Achates contributes to the vibrancy of the cultural ecosystem through its sponsorship of initiatives and events, including the annual  Achates Philanthropy Foundation Prize.

The 2021 Achates Philanthropy Foundation Symposium

Join us for a series of nightly conversations with creatives and thought leaders challenging the cultural sector to think differently.

Across the week, we will ask UK and international guest speakers to reflect on urgent issues – from the cultural implications of addressing climate change, to the myth of social mobility in the creative industries.  These events will explore our renewed understanding of the role of art in society and offer a space for discussion about the nature of change and how it can come about.

This artist-led programme of events is curated by the writer and theatre director, Javaad Alipoor (The Believers Are But Brothers, Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran).

Bringing together leaders from across the arts, these provocative discussions are for anyone who wants to be part of bringing about real change.

All events are free and online, but booking is required.

All events will be captioned by


Book below for your place at any of our five, free events:

Climate Economics – Monday 15 November, 7pm

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As the Global North finally wakes up to the reality of climate change, it is now seeking to alter the way in which art is curated and consumed worldwide, through initiatives such as reducing international travel and promoting digital engagement. But this sets a challenge for artists in the Global South many of whom seek opportunities in the Global North to raise the perceived and economic value of their work. Where do climate and social justice meet in the arts?

Chair: To be announced


  • Shoshana Polanco is a creative producer. Based in Buenos Aires, her area of expertise is international collaboration with a focus in Latin America.
  • Fehinti Balogun is an actor and writer. He conceived, wrote and performed in Can I Live?, a brand new digital performance about the climate catastrophe from Complicité. TV and film credits include I May Destroy You and Dune.
  • Róise Goan is the Artistic Director of Artsadmin.


The Social Mobility Myth – Tuesday 16 November, 7pm

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The arts have been one of the vehicles by which the myth of social mobility has been promoted, yet the cultural ecosystem remains a mirror of society with roles largely dictated by socio-economic background. Can the arts become a beacon of change?

Chair: Syima Aslam is the founder and Director of the Bradford Literature Festival.


  • Dr Dave O’Brien is Chancellor’s Fellow in Cultural and Creative Industries based in The University of Edinburgh’s School of History of Art, and co-author of the book, Culture is bad for you: inequality in the cultural and creative industries.
  • Dr Mariam Rezaei is an award winning composer, turntablist and performer. She is Artistic Director of TOPH, a producing mixed arts space in Newcastle.
  • Abdul Shayek is Artistic Director and joint CEO of Tara Theatre.


Keynote Lecture: All that’s been revealed… – Wednesday 17 November,  7pm

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The pandemic represents a period in which our world views have undergone seismic shifts with social and environmental justice movements finding renewed momentum. However, as the old methodologies of liberalism have failed to achieve these goals, both left and right have moved to more strident and authoritarian positions which form the basis of the so-called ‘ culture wars’.

As curator and guest artist for the inaugural Achates Philanthropy Foundation Symposium, Javaad Alipoor will give the Keynote Lecture, All that’s been revealed…, exploring the role of art in achieving justice with understanding.

Chair: Claire Armitstead is associate editor, culture for the Guardian. She presents the weekly Guardian books podcast and is a regular commentator on radio, and at live events across the UK and internationally.

Keynotes speaker: Javaad Alipoor is a British-Iranian, Manchester-based and Bradford-built artist, writer and founding Artistic Director of The Javaad Alipoor Company. The Javaad Alipoor Company takes stories beyond the stage through powerful multi-platform creations that explore the intersection of politics and technology in the contemporary world. Javaad was Resident Associate Director at Sheffield Theatres (2017-18), Associate Director at Bradford’s Theatre in the Mill (2015-2017) and is an alumni of Arts Council England’s Change Makers programme. Javaad’s plays include The Believers Are But Brothers, Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran (both published by Oberon) and Made of Mannheim, and his writing on international politics, cultural policy and art has been featured in The Guardian, The Independent and The Stage.



The Hidden Artist – Thursday 18 November, 7pm

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Whilst the arts have become much better at articulating the case for the economic and social value of art, as well as its benefits for wellbeing, the space for talking about art itself and its intrinsic value seems to have shrunk.  How can we move beyond a zero-sum approach to these ideas?

Chair: Javaad Alipoor is a British-Iranian, Manchester-based and Bradford-built artist, writer and founding Artistic Director of The Javaad Alipoor Company.


  • Andrew Barnett OBE is Director of the UK Branch of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
  • Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a writer, editor, socio-cultural commentator, broadcaster and recipient of Ghana’s national ACRAG award for poetry and literary advocacy.
  • Third panelist to be announced


The Lives of Artists – Friday 19 November, 7pm

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The pandemic has brutally revealed how we undervalue freelancers and, in particular, those working in front of house and technical roles. How do we create an arts infrastructure in which artists aren’t valued at the expense of their co-creators at a time when it has become clear that the mixed economy we have relied on for so many years is now failing?

Chair: Javaad Alipoor is a British-Iranian, Manchester-based and Bradford-built artist, writer and founding Artistic Director of The Javaad Alipoor Company.


  • Andrew Glassford is a Manchester-based freelance theatre technician and production manager who set up a project to make homes more eco-friendly after losing his job in the arts industry during the pandemic.
  • Darren Pritchard is a performer, choreographer, teacher, producer and director. He’s a celebrated Vogue performer and the Mother of the House of Ghetto in Manchester.
  • Kully Thiarai is Creative Director and CEO of Leeds 2023, and the former Artistic Director and Chief Executive of National Theatre Wales.


All that’s been revealed…in partnership with Battersea Arts Centre, Beatfreeks, The National Centre for Writing, The People’s Orchestra, Theatre503, Union Chapel, Manchester International Festival, Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

All events in the Achates Philanthropy Foundation Symposium are available free of charge online both live and on-demand post-Symposium.


The annual Achates Philanthropy Prize will return in 2022.

For more information about the history of the Prize, please visit  and subscribe to our  mailing list


The 2021 Achates Philanthropy Foundation Symposium is sponsored by Achates.