Carol Leeming MBE

"A quality I admire the most is that Leicester talent, despite naysayers and huge obstacles, seeks to overcome and to excel regardless"

What do you do?

Currently, I am a part-time Lecturer in Performing Arts at De Montfort University as well as an Arts Consultant for Creative Creatures Arts Collective, working with children & young People.

I am a multi-awarding-winning, freelance, inter-disciplinary artist working in literature, performing arts and digital media. Some previous commissioned roles have included as a published poet, playwright, resident assistant director at Curve, performer, musician, composer, film maker, curator and mentor.

How did you get to where you are?

I was a youth and community worker and later found great success in the 90s music industry as a singer/songwriter with hit records and international touring including a song in the UK hit film Trainspotting. I used to do some creative writing whilst touring the world.

In 2000s, I left the music industry and returned to Leicester. There I successfully pursued creative writing as a poet, a playwright and also as a theatre producer and director. I used all my experience, what I had learnt in the music industry, with regard to performance, art direction, film media etc. I continued my arts career adding roles as an advisor, mentor, champion, advocate and curator with Leicester African and African Caribbean performing artists, programming them in mainstream venues and large-scale festivals such as Haymarket Theatre, BBC Music Live National Festival and BBC African Live National Festival.

Later I carried out the above roles across the East Midlands with BAME and culturally diverse artists, both in visual and performing arts. I am an Alumni of De Montfort University. I trained as a youth and community worker, as a theatre maker with Out of Order Theatre company, attained certificates in Music Programming/Sound Engineering at Kingston University Gateway School, a certificate in Creative Industries Business Adviser at Arts Council England/Creative Skills Council at Arts Training Central.

Why do you love what you do?

I never actually realised I was a polymath until I was hailed as such by academia. I just found I learnt very quickly, I found it easy to do lots of different disciplines excellently. I am wholly passionate about the arts, I’ve seen the way it can change lives for the better. Importantly I am committed to ‘giving voice to the voiceless’ in my work. Those who are silenced, excluded from the mainstream in particular how intersectional it works i.e. racism, sexism, class, homophobia/transphobia, ageism, and able-bodism. My interest is to explore artistically and creatively, how can members of our society survive and thrive, despite the above pernicious intransigent systems. My work is therefore politically informed and inspired by so many artists and creatives such as writers Ntozake Shangwe, Sue Townsend, Joe Orton, Toni Morrison to musicians Chaka Khan and Grace Jones, composer Errollyn Wallen MBE, visual artist Sonia Boyce and film director Amma Asante.

Additionally, I have always been wildly curious, I love all forms of arts, humanities, and sciences overall. In particular post-colonial studies, African Diaspora and global cultures both past and present. I love to learn new things and enjoy being in the artistic creative zone.

Why are you based in Leicester?

Leicester is my place of birth. I grew up in the city within all its cultural diversity, particularly the different periods of migration of the various people of the world which have enriched the city immeasurably. Through my travelling of the world, I have come to appreciate more and more what makes this city so unique. I have always championed Leicester, especially from the moment I returned to the city at the end of the 90’s, for personal reasons, my Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. At that time, it was a much different city, say from the lively vibrancy I experienced in the 70’s/80’s when I had lived there. We have now come forward and become more positive about the city.

We still have a way to go to champion and invest in Leicester’s culturally diverse talent beyond the usual suspects. Leicester as a city at the heart of the nation and often has been overlooked. Leicester has had different heydays from its market town, the industrial and social history, the 60s/70s/80s, to the many excellent contributions to world sciences, arts heritage and sports that Leicester folk have made. A cursory glance at a list of famous Leicester folk will demonstrate this from contemporary dance, MOBO music, genetic science, TV media, social sciences and much more. It is the Leicester spirit.

A quality I admire the most is that Leicester talent, despite naysayers and huge obstacles, seeks to overcome and to excel regardless.

What next?

I have a new poetry collection due for publication later this year, along with a new album of songs, and other personal writing arts projects

Another of my projects, with partners, successfully launched Monday March 3rd 2020, Boho Muse will take place on the first Monday of every month. It is a Poetry & Live Music & Open Mic platform, the night titled Boho Muse, takes place in a glamorous, luxurious venue, with in-house pa. resident pianist, in cosmopolitan Narborough road. We had a wonderful diverse number of Leicester poets and musicians participating, as well as an appreciative diverse audience. We are looking to make contact with more musicians and poets to perform going forward.

Social media accounts to follow:

Facebook: Dare to Diva

Twitter: @stardiva