‘Much to be Done’ – FREE performances in Peckham

Join us for “Much To Be Done” at 3:30PM and 5:30PM on Sun 12th Sept at 10th floor, Multistorey Car Park, 95a Rye Lane, London SE15 4TG.

Our free pop-up performances at Bold Tendencies in Peckham on the weekend of the now cancelled London Pride 2021 link directly back to the Stonewall riots in 1969.

Bold Tendencies is a not-for-profit organisation based at the former Peckham Multi-Storey Car Park which produces an annual programme of visual art, live music, dance and opera. Bold Tendencies is a committed supporter of the LGBT+ community and the car park was home for our first few in-person rehearsals as we eased ourselves out of lockdown. 

The rooftop, where we will be performing, is home to the billboard artwork “Untitled” (1989) by Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1967-1996). First displayed in Sheridan Square in New York across from the Stonewall Inn, “Untitled” is a commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising that followed a police raid on the bar in 1969, sparking widespread demonstrations in response to human rights injustices and the lack of government action surrounding the AIDS epidemic. In 1989 an estimated 200,000 participants in the Gay and Lesbian Liberation Day March passed in front of this billboard. This work has an enduring power and relevance as a symbol for inclusive civic values and the celebration of free public space in the city. 

Untitled” (1989) by Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1967-1996)

Gonzalez-Torres participated in hundreds of group shows across the world during his lifetime. Working during the height of the AIDS crisis, his work motivates social action by conveying subjects of love and loss, sickness and rejuvenation, gender and sexuality.

Performing in the context of “Untitled” will magnify the voices of our choir, deepening the historical context in which our songs will be heard. Not only will this create unity between different times and struggles, celebrating the artistic achievements of those who have battled against oppression and loss in their lives due to their sexuality; but in particular it will amplify the call by London Pride for a national AIDS memorial to remember those who died from the virus and those who cared for them. 

Taking part in this year’s LGBT+ festival will be one of our first public performances since January 2020. As well as giving our second performance of Much To Be Done (the finale of Iain Bell’s opera Stonewall, specially arranged for The Pink Singers), we will be performing a number of old favourites and new uplifting songs that resonate with the LGBT+ community and living authentically. 

The weekend of 11-12 September will now see different community groups, pop up events and parades come together to celebrate pride across the city and provide an opportunity for the LGBT+ community to be visible, to light our voices and do so in unity and safety.

Performing Live in East London!

Join us for our concert “Chosen Family”: 4pm Sunday 19th September at St Matthew’s Church, Bethnal Green, London E2 6DT

It’s so good to be back and giving live performances again! Join us in Bethnal Green and hear old favourites as well as beautiful new arrangements of songs that resonate with the LGBT+ community and living authentically.

Repertoire in this 60-minute performance will include Together in Electric Dreams, Run, Strong, Brave, Proud and Chosen Family. We’ll also be giving our second performance of “Much To Be Done” from Iain Bell’s opera Stonewall which was specially arranged for The Pink Singers.

Tickets

Tickets are £10  and are available online in advance and on the door.

All proceeds will go to St Matthew’s Church, a stubbornly LGBTQ+ affirming church which has kindly provided us with a free rehearsal venue during the summer.

Every September St Matthew’s host celebrations on or near the Feast Day for St Matthew, their patron saint. They are delighted to have The Pink Singers as part of the programme this year.

Become a Trustee

The Pink Singers is the longest running LGBTQ+ choir in Europe. Established in 1983 to march in London’s Gay & Lesbian Pride we’ve been singing ever since. Over the years we’ve grown and are now an established charity. Our aim is to share the joy of music and singing within our community and use our voices to raise awareness of LGBT+ issues and fight for equality. 

We are currently looking for two new people to join our group of trustees to help support and grow the choir as we emerge from the pandemic and head full steam towards our 40th birthday!

Who we are looking for

We don’t have one ideal person in mind, but rather are looking for fresh and diverse voices to join us who can bring new perspectives, experience or expertise that would help us achieve our ambitions for the charity.

Some of the opportunities and challenges we see for us ahead:

  • Embedding inclusive cultures within the choir as we come back together in person after over a year of virtual rehearsals
  • Returning to performances as we and the UK arts scene emerge from lockdown
  • Making our music and performances more accessible and reaching more diverse audiences 
  • Improving our community outreach, music education offering and charitable impact 
  • Strengthening our voice on current LGBTQ+ rights issues and campaigns

If you feel motivated to help with just one of those, we’d love to hear from you. As a group of trustees we already have members with good experience in charity governance, management, strategy, finance, and communications. We feel that people with experience in areas such as performing and the arts, education, service provision, campaigning, activism, fundraising, youth work, and diversity and inclusion work could complement our skills. But most important is just a passion for our mission.

Representation matters to us too. We exist as a choir for the whole LGBTQ+ community so would really love to hear from people that are less well represented with us right now, including Trans and Non-Binary people, Black people and People of Colour, people with disabilities, and young people.

What we offer in return

Community – First and foremost, joining us as a trustee means becoming a ‘Pinkie’ and being part of a hundred-strong community of beautiful, diverse, inspirational LGBTQ+ people and allies who come together to sing, share and spread joy. We are our own chosen family.

Impact – As a trustee you get to influence the high-level and long-term direction of the choir and ensure that it is meeting its charitable objectives to share the joy of music among the LGBTQ+ community and raise awareness of LGBTQ+ rights. Our choir makes a real difference to people’s lives in the UK and around the world.

Growth – The trustees are a friendly and supportive group of seven people, all with skills which we are happy to share. The role would give you the opportunity to develop things such as leadership, governance, management, finance and communications skills and also increase your experience in the music, performing arts and charity sectors. We are happy to mentor people with little or no experience of being a trustee.

Trustee roles are unpaid but we will cover reasonable expenses including travel.

Key responsibilities

  • Attend trustee meetings and contribute to discussion bringing your particular skills or experience to the table
  • Support the volunteer leadership team who run the choir with advice and support
  • Lead on actions or workstreams, engaging with volunteer working groups from the choir members where needed
  • Be a visible and responsible representative of the charity and choir
  • Ensure the charity operates in line with its constitution and meets its legal and financial duties as set out by the Charity Commission

The trustees currently meet monthly for 90 minutes. Meetings have been taking place virtually, this will likely continue though we intend to meet in person in London on occasion. Attendance at the AGM and the occasional visit to a choir Sunday rehearsal or performance are also expected.

Expectations

We are not setting any essential skills for the role as we want it to be as open to anyone as possible, but we expect our trustees to:

  • adhere to the Pink Singers vision, values and constitution
  • contribute the necessary time and support to the choir
  • be committed to equality and inclusion for everyone
  • abide by The Seven Principles of Public Life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership 

Recruitment Process

To express an interest or apply for this role please fill in our Pink Singers Trustee Recruitment Form.

If you are interested in finding out more about the role you can use the form to arrange an informal conversation with one of the trustees or to attend an open trustee meeting to see how we work.

If you are ready to apply, complete the form filling out the three simple questions which will ask about your motivations for applying, what you will bring to the role, and what you hope to get out of it.

Applications close on Friday 20th August. 

We will then shortlist and invite candidates to interview if needed in early September. We hope to have new trustees in place by the end of September in time for our AGM.

If you have any issues with the recruitment form or need to apply in a way that better works for you please email trustee.secretary@pinksingers.co.uk.

To understand more about The Pink Singers please read the About Us section of our website where you can find information about our history, our charitable aims, the current trustees and leadership team.

Thank you for your interest in becoming a trustee of The Pink Singers.

Rebel Dykes

As part of our Pride Month celebrations we have been highlighting the brand new feature film Rebel Dykes, which is a documentary set in 1980s post punk London. It tells the unheard story of a community of lesbians who met doing art, music, politics and sex and how they went on to change their world. It has been recently shown at BFI Flare and the Fringe Film Festival at the Genesis Cinema in Bethnal Green and will be making its way around the film festival circuit this year.

Pinkies meet some of the film’s protagonists

The film is a fantastic portrayal of a fiercely strong group of lesbians, proudly identifying as dykes, who were finding their place in the community and using their voice to fight for the rights of others. The film features interviews with some of the key figures of the community and also plays footage from some of the clubs and main events that occurred at the time. Some of the Pink Singers went to the first cinema showing at the Genesis earlier this month and were extremely excited to meet some of the film’s leading protagonists.

Sally-Anne Smith, Pink Singers Soprano 1, was around in the 1980s and was aware of the group and even features in the film. We asked her for a few words about her experience and what led to her exciting cameo appearance:

Sally-Anne

“The Rebel Dykes is about a loose knit community of lesbians in London in 1986. Many were also involved in the anti-nuclear protests at Greenham Common in Berkshire. Many lived in squats in London. I suppose they would have been viewed as “outsiders” at the time. They lived according to their own politics and beliefs, being a lesbian was not widely accepted. Some of the film is set in “Chain Reaction” which was a Woman Only SM (sado-masochism) bar in Vauxhall. The “SM Dykes” were a visible presence on the Gay Pride marches in the 1980’s. At the time, I think they would have been considered a “sub culture” in the lesbian scene, they were certainly not universally accepted (not that that would have worried them). Lesbian SM was a very contentious issue at the time, it may well still be, I honestly don’t know. Coming from my own personal standpoint of feminism and non-violence, it was not something I really understood. WAS it “Violent” or “Anti Feminist”? So to try and get some dialogue going, there was a debate on the subject with a panel of “Pro” and “Anti” SM woman and a mixed audience. It was a woman only meeting and I went with a bunch of friends (of varying opinions) and when I got there Sheila Jeffreys (if my memory serves me correctly) who was supposed to be on the panel giving the “anti SM” viewpoint was walking out of the building. This left an empty chair and a request for someone to take her place on the panel. My friends seemed to think I would be a good candidate, so I walked up and sat in the empty chair. Can’t remember much of what I said. I was interested in reconciling an issue which was causing contention in the lesbian/feminist movement. I wanted to find out where the “other side” was coming from. This blog ONLY represents my personal impressions of something that happened over 30 years ago. I do not claim to speak for anyone else. But that is why there is a very fleeting clip of myself in the film. Oh, and I did get to go to “Chain Reaction” after all”

The Directors of the film, Harri Shanahan and Siân A. Williams, were interviewed by LesFlicks (a social enterprises raising the visibility and support of lesbian and bisexual films and film makers) during the premiere online showing at BFI Flare earlier this year. Check out the video of the interview and find out more about how they pulled the film together and the importance of the film to the LGBT+ community.

To coincide with the release of the film, the Rebel Dykes community have pulled together the Rebel Dykes – Art and Archive Show which is being shown at Space Station Sixty-Five in Kennington, London, SE11 4PT.  The exhibition opened on June 25th and goes on until September 17th 2021 (Thursday – Saturday, 12-6pm). The gallery describe the exhibition as celebrating “past and present dissident voices, those who stood boldly against homophobia, Clause 28 and a heteronormative, deeply divided and sexist society. And they did it with style and swagger”. Admission is ticketed. Please go along and support and find out more about this wonderful period in LGBT+ history.

Open letter to Pride in London

The Pink Singers have decided not to participate in London Pride this year due to the racism and bullying experienced by Black people and People of Colour within Pride in London and the lack of progress in addressing this so far. 

We remain committed to the Pride cause and hope to see evidence of concrete change within Pride in London that results in an event that is inclusive and welcoming for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community. We will continue to mark and celebrate other Pride events, such as London Trans Pride on 26 June, and use our platform to both raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and showcase the joy and diversity of queer life in the UK and overseas.

In response to our letter, Pride in London invited us to meet with them to discuss the issues we raised. We are grateful for the meeting and the opportunity to ask questions and to hear about their approach to dealing with the accusations of racism and bullying within their organisation. Our position on participating this year hasn’t changed as a result of this discussion but we will continue to engage in discussions with Pride in London and look forward to seeing evidence of positive changes in the future. Specifically we would like to see evidence of a thorough investigation into concerns raised about racism and bullying, and plans to ensure a culture of open communication and genuine engagement with a range of stakeholders in the organisation, particularly people of colour.

Our letter to Pride in London in full:

Dear Pride in London,

We are writing to you following the resignation of Pride in London’s Community Advisory Board on 19th March citing a “hostile environment” for volunteers of Colour and your subsequent promise to carry out a full review of your processes and procedures to address their concerns. 

The Pink Singers is Europe’s longest-established LGBTQ+ choir and was specifically formed in 1983 at the request of the Pride organisers to provide a choir for the Pride March. We have not missed a London Pride March, Parade or Festival since then and we are committed to supporting Pride as a safe and inclusive celebration. 

Since that first Pride, we have established ourselves as a charity and one of the choir’s key objectives is to promote equality and diversity for LGBTQ+ people by example, education and raising awareness; and by promoting activities to foster understanding between people from diverse backgrounds. 

We work to ensure that the choir is a place that welcomes and offers solidarity to all. 

As such, we were deeply concerned to hear of the racism and bullying experienced by Black people and People of Colour within Pride in London. These events have caused us to consider our relationship with you as an organisation. 

We abhor racism of all kinds. We care about the problems that have been raised by Pride in London. In terms of our own inclusivity, The Pink Singers does not fully reflect the diversity of London. We still have work to do to be a space where all LGBTQ+ people feel welcome and at the heart of the community, no matter their “race” or ethnicity. We are therefore putting the voices of the Black people and other People of Colour in our choir front and centre as we decide how to approach London Pride this year and in the future.

We note that, back in March, you acknowledged that you needed to “rebuild trust with Black communities and People of Colour” and committed to a board-level review of your processes and procedures “to bring about tangible and meaningful change”. We are concerned that this review has not yet been published and also that its scope will fall short of the Community Advisory Board’s demand for a full investigation.

You have more recently released a statement apologising to volunteers who experienced racism, bullying and other forms of discrimination. At the same time you set out your ‘Proud of Pride’ plan consisting of actions you would take to address these issues within the organisation. We welcome the apology and the plan, however we are concerned that these actions may not be implemented or go far enough. We will not be reassured until we see evidence of concrete change.

Therefore, we feel unable to participate in London Pride until such time as your organisation can demonstrate in actions, not simply words, that racism has no place in your organisation and that you are truly committed to diversity, inclusion and equality. 

If we can be of help to you in achieving that aim and creating a London Pride that serves our entire community, we stand ready to assist.

Yours sincerely,

Joey Tabone, Charity Chair

Zoë Burdo, Trustee

Helen Drew, Trustee

Rusty Livock, Trustee

Alice Milton-Doyle, Trustee

Benjamin Peters, Trustee

The Pink Singers