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Highlights from the Anne Peaker Lecture 2020

Highlights from the Anne Peaker Lecture 2020

“What you realise by writing and creating original works is that the power of the imagination is bigger than any setting that any of us can find ourselves in.” – Lemn Sissay at the 2020 Anne Peaker lecture

The eleventh Anne Peaker lecture honoured the work and legacy of Anne Peaker, a pioneer of arts for, and by, people in the criminal justice system. In 2020, we were delighted to welcome Lemn Sissay, author, poet and broadcaster, as keynote speaker to speak on the theme Beyond Survival: Creativity in Confinement. Over 230 people joined us at the lecture, which was the first Anne Peaker lecture to be held online. Lemn’s inspirational talk on what creativity has meant to him was both moving and hugely entertaining.

Thank you also to Brenda Birungi, aka Lady Unchained, who hosted the event with such warmth and energy. Brenda told us, “I’ve never chaired anything before. I’ve hosted my own event, Unchained Nights, but this was different in so many ways. As someone with lived experience of the criminal justice system, there are many things I never thought I could do. Having a life after a prison sentence was a mystery, but now I prove every day that it’s possible. My conversation with Lemn was so inspiring I almost forgot there were other people listening – I could honestly speak to him all day. I hope that I did enough to prove to anyone who had doubts about just how much creativity can help create opportunities for people with lived experience.”

Jamal Khan performs his poem Caged Revolution at the 2020 Anne Peaker lecture.

Congratulations also go to Jamal Khan, Sam Drinkwater, S_Man, Tek and Noble for their fantastic performances and inspiring activities, which brought a powerful, creative energy to the event and had the audience dancing in their living rooms.

Lemn Sissay + Brenda Birungi

Last but not least, thank you to all of the guests who joined in from around the world, asked questions, drew, commented, danced, laughed and cheered. As Lemn said, “People apologised about this being online. But this is as real as it gets. Us coming together and communicating about things that matter during a pandemic.”

The lecture was broadcast via National Prison Radio to prisons across England and Wales on the 30th November.