Mulberry Schools Trust’s first Partnership of Equals conference took place at the QEII Conference Centre on Friday 12 October 2018. The conference brought together 400 young people from schools across London and further afield to discuss and explore themes of gender inequality, with the arts as a key focus for the day. Following an opening discussion between Grayson Perry and Jude Kelly, students explored gender in dance, helped by a panel which included choreographers Shobana Jeyasingh and Matthew Bourne.
In the afternoon, the focus was on Shakespeare and students had the chance to watch an open rehearsal facilitated by Director Carrie Cracknell, before hearing from a panel of actors and directors including David Lan, Paapa Essiedeu and Jade Anouka. Keynote addresses to the conference were made by Edwina Dunn of the Female Lead and Baroness Shami Chakrabati. In addition to contributions by guests, there were also several student performances, including a dance performance by Mulberry School for Girls in collaboration with Heston Community School, and a Shakespeare performance by Mulberry Academy Shoreditch. Many students submitted poems on the theme of gender inequality, which were published in a special anthology. A selection of winning poems was performed at the conference itself, alongside a performance by renowned poet Dave Neita.