Stand Up For Diversity: Speaker Biogs

Maja Antoine-Onikoyi

Director of Maja’s Education Project CIC
Youth & Diversity Adviser at Essex Book Festival

Maja Antoine-Onikoyi is a student at the University of Essex, and the company director of Maja’s Education Project CIC: a non-profit organisation that donates books on topics that cover Black history, injustice, microaggression and fiction written by black authors. After being seen on BBC, ITV, Dazed magazine and more, Maja now works with businesses as a diversity consultant to improve the quality of content that accurately represents and reaches people of colour.

Delaine Le Bas

Cross disciplinary artist

Delaine Le Bas was born in Worthing U.K 1965. She studied at St Martins School Of Art London. Delaine is a cross disciplinary artist. She worked with her late husband the artist Damian Le Bas on their installations Safe European Home? and in 2017 producing the stage artworks and costumes together for Roma Armee. Delaine created Romani Embassy in 2015. Her works have been included in Prague Biennale 2005 & 2007, Gwangju Biennale 2012, ANTI – Athens Biennale 2018 Venice Biennale 2007, 2017 & 2019, Critical Contemplations Tate Modern 2017. In 2019 she created the costumes for Rewitching Europe which premiered at Gorki Berlin in November 2019. She also had archive works, a new installation and performance commissioned by Gorki for 4.Berliner Herbstsalon DE-HIEMAITZE IT! which opened in October 2019. Delaine is currently one of the artists for When The Crack Begins Within 11th Berlin Biennale and Guest Professor at UdK – University Of The Arts Berlin. | Delaine Le Bas is represented by

Tom Cross

Artist & Creative Catalyst for libraries

Tom Cross was Essex Cultural Diversity Project’s commissioned artist in Aylesbury Library, in partnership with Farnham Maltings.

Tom Cross is a visual artist who uses animation and drawing to explore ‘story’ and the effect it has on our daily lives, and his work is informed by being a dyslexic, neurodiverse artist. He has a wide participatory arts practice, working with and within many organisations including schools, theatres, museums and libraries. He has been commissioned by national organisations such as the Bodleian libraries, Royal Shakespeare Company, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Natural History Museum and National Maritime Museum as well as running projects for the Foundling Museum and The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. He has also worked as a Creative Catalyst for Create Gloucestershire, helping two libraries in the Cotswolds develop their cultural offer. He runs creative wellbeing projects for vulnerable people of all ages. He graduated from Wolverhampton Polytechnic with BA (hons) in fine art and a Postgraduate Diploma in animation from St Martin’s School of Art.

Soap and Porridge commission |

Sarah Moth

Customer, Partner & Outreach Engagement Lead
Essex Libraries

Sarah is the Reader Development and Access lead for adults for Essex Libraries. Working across the county, responsible for reader development activities and working towards making Essex Libraries accessible, welcoming and safe spaces to all customers and potential customers. She’s an advisor to the Essex Book Festival, a lifelong reader and a passionate advocate for the importance of public libraries.

Gurinder Singh Mann

Historian and Director of the Sikh Museum Initiative

Gurinder Singh Mann is a Sikh Scholar and historian with an MA in South Asian Religions from De Montfort University, Leicester. He has delivered lectures across the world for 20 years, and has appeared on radio and TV giving his views on heritage issues as well as theological matters. He has researched and discovered many Sikh artefacts and relics, and set up the Sikh Museum Initiative. He has made much headway utilising new technologies including 3d modelling and augmented reality to showcase and preserve Sikh heritage. He curated the exhibition Anglo Sikh Wars: Battles, Treaties and Relics (2017) Contemporary Sikh Art Exhibition (2018) and is the Digital Curator of Anglo Sikh Virtual Museum (2018-2020) the world first 3d Sikh museum. Gurinder is also author of three books: Sri Dasam Granth: Questions and Answers, and the Oxford University Press published: The Granth of Guru Gobind Singh: Essays, Lectures and Translations and his latest British and the Sikhs: Discovery, Warfare and Friendship. He is co-convenor of the International Sikh Research Conference (ISRC) which takes place at the University of Warwick every year.

Alongside Taran Singh, Gurinder has been involved with the Festival of Norfolk & Punjab, which explores the story of Maharajah Duleep Singh and his family, who lived in Thetford. | | British and the Sikhs: Discovery, Warfare and Friendship

Ben Paites

Collections and Learning Curator – Community, Colchester Museums

Ben Paites is part of the team responsible for creating content for exhibitions and events across all three museums within Colchester. He is also the lead on community engagement, establishing partnerships and working with groups across the town. He will be talking about some of the ways in which the museums have been working with the community in recent years to improve representation within the displays. In particular, how events such as LGBT History Month and Black History Month have led to more permanent features within the museums’ programme.

Lasana Shabazz

Interdisciplinary performance artist

Lasana Shabazz is Essex Cultural Diversity Project’s second commissioned artist in Buckinghamshire, in partnership with Farnham Maltings. Lasana is an interdisciplinary performance artist, writer and director whose work delves deep into identity politics, deconstructing ideas of race, sexuality, class and gender, queering the norm of what is considered acceptable by mainstream and popular culture. The artist feels it is key to connect with an audience and take them on a challenging journey, making them feel vulnerable and uncomfortable, whilst also exploring the narratives, experiences and emotional footprint of marginalised groups. Their work incorporates theatre, dance, spoken word, visual art, music production, make up, costume design and construction. They work in art galleries, theatres, arts festivals, museums, educational institutions, black, queer and QTIPOC (queer trans intersex people of colour) art spaces nationally and internationally.

They originally trained as an actor at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, which culminated with their first artist residencies with theatre company MC Theater and Imagine IC in Amsterdam, Holland. Since then they have delivered arts residencies and commissions with many organisations including Tate Britain, Victoria and Albert Museum, Manchester Art Gallery, Cripping the Stage (Toronto) and Bushwig (New York). Lasana has over 10 years’ experience delivering arts, educational and community projects, working with a range of participants including NEET young people (Not in Education, Employment or Training), and children, young people and adults aged 4 to 75.

High Wycombe Library Commission

Taran Singh

3D artist, Director at Taran3D

For the past 15 years Taran has researched and developed immersive applications with 3D and game technologies for a range of industries, including the museum sector, whose work has been instrumental in creating the world’s first 3D museum: the Anglo Sikh Museum. He is an expert in all forms of 3D technology, leading a team through an impressive range of projects instrumental to the growth of Taran3D as well as inspiring new talent into the industry. Taran is also a talented and experienced digital and clay sculptor with a special interest in the human form.

Alongside Gurinder Singh Mann, Taran has been involved with the Festival of Norfolk & Punjab, which explores the story of Maharajah Duleep Singh and his family, who lived in Thetford. |

Beth Wilkey

Essex’s Museum Development Officer, Colchester Museums

Beth is the Museum Development Officer for Essex, working across the county providing museums and heritage sites with information, support and advice on any area of museum work. Museum Development is a national programme funded by Arts Council England to deliver a vision of thriving museums, by being challenging, approachable, ambitious agents of change. Museum Development professionals work in partnership with others to raise standards, drive excellence and help museums to diversify their governance, workforce, users, income, collections and public programming. Beth works to support museums and heritage sites in Essex to achieve this, in collaboration with many exceptional individuals and organisations.

Simone Xue

Colchester Chinese Culture Society, ECDP Trustee

Simone Xue is chair of Colchester Chinese Culture Society, and has worked on many cultural events and projects within schools, museums and libraries, as well as within the wider Chinese community. She is currently developing links with cultural and heritage organisations in Jiangsu Province, China, in particular the Changzhou Museum, Arts and Cultural Centre. This work will support collaborative ways of working, potential cultural exchanges, and a forthcoming Festival of China and Essex. The work is funded by the British Council’s UK-China Connections through Culture Grants.

Colchester Chinese Culture Society website