Transforming Narratives

Transforming Narratives is a ground-breaking project that aims to establish Birmingham as a global centre for contemporary arts from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The project brings together artists and cultural organisations from across various artforms, who are located in Birmingham and cities in Pakistan and Bangladesh. It allows for new ideas and artistic practices to be shared, leading to the creation of new work that gives previously unheard voices an international platform.

The project has five strands of activity:

  1. Artistic programme
  2. Cultural leadership development
  3. Audience development and engagement
  4. Archiving culturally diverse work produced by minority ethnic artists
  5. Critical exchange and dialogue

Transforming Narratives is managed by Culture Central and delivered in partnership with The British Council and 10 Birmingham-based cultural partners, including Sampad. It is supported by Arts Council England.

Research & Development

We were delighted to undertake research and development with the extraordinarily talented Bangladeshi dancer Sudeshna Swayamprabha Tathoi. In April 2019 we welcomed Sudeshna to Birmingham, where she spent a week’s residency with various artists across Birmingham in a rich and exciting cultural exchange.

As a result, we drew out the narratives of her perspectives of living in Bangladesh, both as a young woman and as an artist. As part of this journey, we were able to understand her perceptive of coming to Birmingham as an artist and how that impacted on her practice, as well as the artists who she met.

The sharing practice between Sudeshna and Birmingham artists helped us to further understand how narratives are formed and how walking the city together can shape practices going forward.

Bangladeshi dancer Sudeshna Swayamprabha Tathoi

Our Projects


As part of our Transforming Narratives Digital Collaborations Programme, we are delighted to continue our workshops with incredible female artists at Sreepur Village, a purpose-built community in rural Bangladesh that provides a refuge for poverty-stricken single mothers and their children and equips them with crucial livelihood skills. 

These workshops provide an opportunity for women to share traditional craft skills, to express themselves and learn about each other’s backgrounds. 

Shakti is the traditional feminine power that symbolises women taking charge of their own lives. Female empowerment lies at the heart of both our work and that of Sreepur Village. 

The women took part in running an online Lantern & Mask Making Workshop over Zoom on Monday 26 October 2020.

Women at Sreepur Village give their final Shakti presentation, showing their Shakti and traditional craft skills

Follow the Shakti Instagram page.

My City My Home

My City My Home was an international creative writing competition for women aged 16+ who were from, or had connections to, Birmingham, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The aim of the project was to give women the chance to tell their own story, in their own voice. We wanted to hear about what made people feel that they belonged, and what made their city their home – from its people, buildings and arts, to their memories, journeys and emotions.

Participants submitted written pieces of up to 1000 words, written in English, Urdu or Bengali. Writing could take the form of poetry, prose, a short story, a letter, a diary entry, anything they liked – we encouraged people to be as creative as possible. The prize was £200.00 for each winner, along with publication of their work, both in print and online.

The competition closed on Wednesday 30 December 2020. Winners are due to be notified in March 2021, and the publication of winning entries and further selected pieces will be launched in Birmingham, Pakistan, and Bangladesh in Summer 2021.

What’s Next?

As the Transforming Narratives project continues to grow, Sampad will continue to deliver a series of ambitious and innovative projects across Birmingham. Keep your eyes peeled on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels to see how we develop our ongoing conversations with Pakistani and Bangladeshi artists.

This project is supported by: