Skip to main content

Beckford’s Tower and State of Trust announce three new online events

20th July 2023 9 min read
Share this post

Beckford’s Tower is pleased to announce three new online events as part of its ongoing collaboration with State of Trust. These events, which will be free for anybody to enjoy via an online livestream, will be based on the important themes of the transatlantic slave trade, Tacky’s Rebellion, and the novel “Cane Warriors” by Guardian Prize winner Alex Wheatle. The facilitator for each event will be renowned journalist and broadcaster, Terry Baddoo.

The event dates, speakers and topics will be as follows:

During each event, online attendees will have the opportunity to ask the panellists questions. The recruitment of panellists is being funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the wider “Our Tower” regeneration plan.

With the support of Beckford’s Tower, State of Trust are developing an interpretation for dance-theatre of the novel ‘Cane Warriors’, which will launch in March 2024. Initial performances of work in progress will take place at Beckford’s Tower, the University of Bedford and Arnolfini Bristol. Cane Warriors tells the story of Tacky’s Rebellion, an uprising of Akan people fighting for their freedom that took place in Jamaica in 1760, and included enslaved people on a plantation owned by the Beckford family. This ongoing collaboration puts a spotlight on the link between the Beckford family and the rebellion.

The online events this year, as with the in-person performances next year, will encourage all viewers and attendees to engage with one of the most troubling aspects of William Beckford’s legacy: his ownership of enslaved people, which funded his lifestyle and his vast collections. The aim is to build awareness around the effects of enslavement and colonialism on the culture and psyche of modern Britain and improve community relations through greater understanding of the shared history.

Today Beckford’s Tower is owned and run by Beckford Tower Trust, part of Bath Preservation Trust. The landmark, a Grade 1 listed monument, is on the National ‘At Risk’ Register, sparking the major ‘Our Tower’ project to restore the Tower, transform the museum, and open up the landscape thanks to a £3million grant from the Heritage Fund. A second grant of £100,000 is enabling Beckford’s Tower to deliver the Cane Warriors project, that will complement the wider work taking place at the Tower. Built between 1826 and 1827, Beckford’s Tower was intended to house the collections of books, furniture and art that were owned by William Beckford, whose wealth was gained from his ownership of plantations and enslaved people in Jamaica.

Commenting on the new project, Director of Museums Claire Dixon said: “The transparent acknowledgment and portrayal of William Beckford’s ownership of enslaved people is a top priority for us as we prepare our new interpretation for the Tower. His exploitation of human beings directly funded his building and collecting, so it is absolutely vital that we make clear in the new exhibition, and that we engage audiences with these difficult but integral themes ahead of the reopening. Georgian Bath was heavily involved with the transatlantic slave trade, and the story of William Beckford gives us an opportunity to start a conversation about the wider involvement of the city, and the country, as a whole. We’ve approached some really exciting speakers for these new online events, and by making the talks free-to-view and “barrier-free” we hope to attract a wide cross-section of local, national and international communities.

“I would like to thank the Heritage Fund, and National Lottery players, for their support.”

Deborah Baddoo MBE and Steve Marshall, the Directors at State of Trust and State of Emergency Limited, said: “When Alex Wheatle first approached us, nearly three years ago, with a view to our making a dance interpretation of his novel, we didn’t realise what an uphill struggle it would be to achieve funding. Thanks to Bath Preservation Trust, and the synergy between the story and the history of Beckford’s Tower, we are now able to start working on what we believe will be an important work of African contemporary dance theatre. This production will allow us to pursue a long-term artistic vision, which began with the foundation of State of Emergency Limited in 1986, and to hone our skills as directors and performers. For us ‘Cane Warriors’ is the natural progression of all that has gone before.”

Alex Wheatle, author of Cane Warriors, said: “The real story of Chief Tacky’s rebellion has been passed down through generations of my mother’s family who resided in Richmond, St Mary’s parish in Jamaica – very close to the plantations where Chief Tacky and his Cane Warriors toiled and planned their Easter rebellion in 1760. I was simply compelled to relate this story to the wider world and I’m very proud that State of Emergency will tell the story in the art form of dance. Indeed, the Cane Warriors will be honoured.”

About the Panellists

Alex Wheatle

‘One of the most exciting writers of the black urban experience’ – The Times

Alex is an award-winning black British novelist of Jamaican heritage who has been described as one of the UK’s most exciting writers. Having spent much of his childhood in a Surrey children’s home, at sixteen he became a founder member of the Crucial Rocker sound system. He began writing lyrics about his observations of everyday Brixton life and by 1980, was residing in a social services hostel in Brixton, South London. Alex was briefly incarcerated following the Brixton riots. In 2008, he was awarded an MBE for services to literature in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. His debut novel, Brixton Rock, was adapted for the stage and performed at the Young Vic in July 2010. In 2016 he won the Guardian Prize for young people’s fiction.

Deborah Baddoo

Having trained at the University of Surrey, Deborah Baddoo went on to gain an MA in Performance Arts at Middlesex University. Deborah went on to open Pyramid Dance Studio in London in 1985 and in 1986 she became Artistic Director of State of Emergency. Throughout her varied career she has pursued a passionate, long-term vision to support the development of Black dance and choreography nationally and internationally, and in 2010 she was awarded an MBE for services to British dance. Her productions include Dance for Life (1991), The Mission (2003-9), Desert Crossings (2010-11), Love&Sex (2013), Choices&Consequences (2015) and Where is Home? (2016-18).

Amanda Egbe

Amanda Egbe is an artist, filmmaker, researcher, and senior lecturer in Media Production at the University of the West of England (UWE). Her research and practice focus on archives, digital technologies, the moving image, activism, and race. She has exhibited work nationally and internationally at festivals, conferences, and galleries.

Steve Marshall

Steve Marshall is a singer, song writer and producer who, in 1983, co-founded Pyramid Arts Development, a seminal music and arts centre in Dalston, East London. He set up State of Emergency with Deborah Baddoo in 1986, which was the beginning of a long association with dance-theatre. Creating original soundtrack and score led to story development and directing for dance theatre including Where is Home? (2016-18) and Coleridge Unbound (2022). Notably, Steve has produced and recorded extensively with Jamaican legend Lee “Scratch” Perry. Working with Lee led to recording and mixing projects with Keith Richards and George Clinton, and two Grammy nominations.

Michael Joseph

Since completing his training at Rambert School of Ballet & Contemporary Dance, Michael has consistently worked as a choreographer, dance artist, teacher and DSLR dance filmmaker – nationally and internationally. In 2008, he left his position as Assistant Artistic Director with Union Dance after 23 years to establish his career as an Independent Dance Artist. His work has been influenced and inspired by an eclectic mix of various choreographers, and he has had the privilege to work with Bill T Jones, Doug Elkins, Rafael Bonachela, Laurie Booth, B Boys, Axè (Capoeirista), Tom Jobe and Derek Williams.

Terry Baddoo

Terry Baddoo is a veteran, award-winning journalist. Born and raised in London to English and Ghanaian parents, Terry was a familiar face to British audiences during the 1980s and 90s before relocating to the USA, where his success continued. During a storied career, he has covered numerous iconic news and sporting events, like those listed on 케이카지노, as an anchor-reporter for some of the world’s leading media outlets, most notably CNN and the BBC. He is currently a producer and scriptwriter for the USA Today Network.

Dr Amy Frost

Dr Amy Frost is the Senior Curator of Bath Preservation Trust, which operates No.1 Royal Crescent, Beckford’s Tower, the Museum of Bath Architecture and the Herschel Museum of Astronomy. An architectural historian, she specialises in British architecture of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. She is a leading expert on the life and aesthetics of the British collector, writer, and owner of enslaved people William Beckford (1760-1844) and sits on the committee of the International Beckford Society. Amy is also a lecturer at the University of Bath, School of Architecture and a founder member of the not-for-profit Bath-based organisation Architecture is.

Rob Mitchell

Rob Mitchell is a creative media educator, producer, writer and spoken word performer, working with film and video, print, radio, events production, learning workshops, online and interactive digital media. He co-founded media production company Firstborn Creatives, in 1999. Firstborn’s education arm, Firstborn Studios has gone on to contribute strongly to Bristol’s community media sector. His work in community radio includes Bristol Community FM, Ujima Radio and Imperial Voice Radio. Rob is co-producer of internationally acclaimed The Mayor’s Race (a documentary feature film by Loraine Blumenthal about Marvin Rees’ bid for power in the city of Bristol). Since 2019, he has worked with Black Families Education Support Group in Bath.


About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund

Since The National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised over £46billion for projects and more than 670,000 grants have been awarded across the UK – the equivalent of more than 240 lottery grants in every UK postcode district. More than £30 million raised each week goes to good causes across the UK.


Share this post