New Suffolk Black-led cultural programme wins more than £25k in funding

Imani Sorhaindo - Suffolk Black community leader and business owners -By John Ferguson Photography

Aspire Black Suffolk, the new Black-led cultural programme set to launch in the summer, has won more than £25,000 in funding for a variety of activities taking place in the county. The funders include Arts Council England, DanceEast, Sizewell C and two Suffolk county councillors.


The programme is set to run in association with the forthcoming Power of Stories, the exciting exhibition featuring three original Black Panther costumes, which is planned to take place at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich. Subject to Covid-related restrictions, The Power of Stories will open this summer.

Using the Power of Stories as inspiration, Aspire Black Suffolk aims to create a long-lasting impact and legacy in Suffolk, predominantly among young Black people, and send positive ripples across the broader community. This will be achieved through a host of activities in areas such as education, arts, culture, heritage and personal development.

The first programme of its kind in the region, Aspire Black Suffolk is set to launch in time for Windrush Day (Tuesday 22 June) and the start of The Power of Stories.

Activities will be open to all who want to learn about Black culture, and include:

  • African cooking classes
  • African storytelling
  • Black history talks
  • Black Suffolk photo exhibition
  • Dance performances
  • DJ sets
  • Family drumming workshops
  • Film screenings
  • Live music, Q&As and poetry
  • Mural by Art Eat Events
  • Participation of West Suffolk College and Suffolk One students in educational activities
  • Personal development workshops
  • Presence at The Saints summer market
  • Yoruba language lessons
John Ferguson by John Ferguson Photography

The Black Suffolk photographic exhibition will display a unique collection of new portraits by Ipswich resident and award-winning national press and documentary photographer, John Ferguson. Set to go on show in central Ipswich this summer, the images will portray the diversity within Suffolk’s Black community, instilling a greater sense of pride and belonging, whilst helping to break down racial barriers.

As other event facilitators and organisations raise more money, the events list will grow. Further funding is needed for Windrush Day activities, and workshops for young women in styling, confidence, and hair heritage.

The people behind the initiative include leaders and educators from the county’s Black community, and allies, who are dedicated to elevating awareness and honouring the contribution of the local African-Caribbean community.

Elma Glasgow is Aspire Black Suffolk’s project manager and publicist. She says: “We’re proud and thrilled to have secured this funding, which in these challenging times, speaks volumes about how important Aspire Black Suffolk is regarded by our backers. We’re grateful for their generosity, and for the support of Colchester and Ipswich Museums who have supported funding applications.

“The funding will enable local, Black-led organisations and individuals to celebrate the multiple facets of African-Caribbean culture in Suffolk and showcase our significant role across all areas of society. We’re in the process of finalising our events, and we can’t wait to announce the details – watch this space for updates!”

Anyone interested in getting involved or providing funding should email: