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The Reckoning: Kwame Kwei-Armah and Idris Elba on the Arts and Black Lives Matter

In this special event, Intelligence Squared brought together two leading voices from the arts

This event has now finished and is available to watch on demand.

A great reckoning is taking place in the wake of the brutal killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed his death. Companies and organisations are looking afresh at how they can do a better job of combatting institutional bias and racism. Employees are increasingly speaking out about their experiences and calling for change.

In this special event this Thursday June 25, Intelligence Squared is bringing together two leading voices from the arts, Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of the Young Vic, and Idris Elba, star of The Wire and Luther, to discuss what should happen and is likely to happen in the world of culture as we move forward. Given all the promises made and broken over the years, will things be different this time? Will there be deep structural change so that we see more Black and Brown people – not just on the stage or screen – but in positions of real power and decision-making? And once lessons have been learned, what do people actually need to do?

Join us and have your chance to put your questions to them live in the Q and A.



Kwame Kwei-Armah

Artistic director of the Young Vic theatre

Artistic director of the Young Vic theatre since 2018. He is also an actor, playwright, singer and broadcaster. From 2011 to 2018 he was the Artistic Director of Baltimore Center Stage, and he was Artistic Director for the Festival of Black arts and Culture, Senegal, in 2010. In 2016 he was awarded the Urban Visionary Award by the Center for Urban Families for his work in the Baltimore community. His plays include the award-winning Elmina’s Kitchen, which transferred from the National to the Garrick Theatre in 2005. His series of eight short films, Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle, was shown on BBC4 in 2019. He is a patron of Ballet Black and a visiting fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University. The Young Vic’s production of Hamlet, starring Cush Jumbo and Ruth Negga, has been postponed until the theatre can reopen after the pandemic.

Idris Elba

Award-winning actor, writer, producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and DJ

Award-winning actor, writer, producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and DJ. He is known for roles including Stringer Bell in HBO’s The Wire, DCI John Luther in the BBC One series Luther, and Nelson Mandela in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. In 2013, Elba founded his production company, Green Door Pictures, to champion diversity of thought. Through Green Door, Elba released the documentary Mandela, My Dad and Me, produced the TV mini-series Guerrilla and created, produced and appeared in the 2018 Sky comedy series In the Long Run.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Writer and broadcaster

Broadcaster, writer and social advocate. She is author of You Must Be Layla and the critically acclaimed essays It's Not About The Burqa and The New Daughters of Africa.


Speakers are subject to change.