Josh Mock is a cellist, composer, and conductor currently studying Arabic and Farsi at SOAS, University of London, where he is the LGBTQIA+ officer elect for 2020-2021. You can find his work on his website, SoundCloud, and on YouTube.
Art has always been a vehicle for protest, dialogue, and activism. It’s true that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but it’s even truer that a picture - as well as other artistic expressions - can speak thousands of words when words themselves are dangerous, topics are too taboo to even utter, and censors try to ensure that only a single narrative can be heard. Art gives voice to communities and issues that struggle to be heard amidst the noise of the world.
Artistic institutions thus have an important role to play in ensuring that diverse voices are heard and given space to express themselves. But this is sadly more often the exception than the rule. A survey of the 22 largest American orchestras showed that women composers accounted for only 1.8% of the total pieces performed in the 2014-2015 concert season.* According to a report commissioned by Arts Council England, museums appear to rarely actively collect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) related material.** People from BAME communities make up only 11% of staff at publicly funded national portfolio organisations (NPOs), 4% at major museums, and 9% of staff at Arts Council England. People who identify as disabled only make up 4% of staff at NPOs and major museums and 6% at Arts Council England.***
Celebrating LGBTQIA+ art is a passion and mission of mine. As a white, cis-gendered, able-bodied man, I recognise the enormous privilege I have within the LGBTQIA+ community and therefore the responsibility to open up platforms to marginalised groups and to encourage conversations about how we can better represent these communities in arts spaces. That’s why I’m involved in launching Crossbeam - an LGBTQIA+ arts initiative focused on highlighting intersectionalities within the community and how we can better support each other’s art, visibility, and well-being.
To celebrate pride month, I’ve curated a series of blogs from LGBTQIA+ artists and those who hold LGBTQIA+ art dear to them. It is my hope that by sharing the stories of diverse artists, we can appreciate and celebrate all those who strive to use art as a vehicle for LGBTQIA+ inclusion, activism, and advocacy.
Happy Pride Month!