Ruth Pitter has been a stalwart of Bristol’s voluntary sector for decades – and in January 2024 was awarded an MBE as part of the New Year’s honours list for ‘services to equality, charity and community’ in the city.
This has included work with Voscur, the umbrella organisation that supports Bristol’s voluntary sector, and SARI, which battles racism and provides support for people who have faced hate crimes. She has also been a pioneer in the local community arts space, co-founding two unique theatre companies – Breathing Fire and Black Women Let Loose – for women of African and Caribbean heritage.
Ruth’s career has spanned a period during which councils have faced massive cuts, with community organisations expanding and competing to fill the resulting gaping holes in services – and often bringing innovation to how things have done. What is the role of the voluntary and charity sector these days? Is it right that things have to be this way in the UK? Do countries like Germany, where the state still takes care of things, offer a better model?
What has been the impact of Ruth’s theatre companies among communities who are much less likely to feel represented in the audience – or the productions – of mainstream Bristol theatres such as the Old Vic?
And as a daughter of the Windrush generation who has spent her life fighting for fairness, does Ruth feel conflicted about accepting an honour that is inextricably linked to empire?
Lock in with Neil and Ruth as they chew over these questions and many more, in the latest unmissable episode of Bristol Unpacked.
‘Speaking is a political act’: Bristol artists push Arnolfini for action over Palestine controversy
The prominent gallery has apologised for cancelling two events from the Palestine Film Festival in November – but an emerging artists-led campaign says it doesn’t go far enough.
Listen: Bristol Unpacked with Watershed CEO Clare Reddington on cinema, class and council cuts
As Bristol City Council slashes spending on venues including arthouse cinema Watershed, Neil asks its boss Clare why funding the arts matters, and whether the sector's reputation as catering mainly to the well-heeled is justified.
Darin J Sallam on what shaped her creative life, her film Farha and the controversy it sparked from the Middle East to Bristol
Sallam’s film has been praised for its bravery in choosing to tackle the events of the Nakba – one of very few films to do so – but was also heavily criticised by Israeli authorities and prompted a boycott campaign
‘Silence is complicity’: director of landmark Palestinian film slams Arnolfini for cancelling screening
In a move that sparked outrage and protest, the Bristol gallery claimed hosting the showing of Farha would risk breaking charity rules on political activity.
Comedian Jody Kamali on his homecoming show about identity, family dynamics and growing up in Southmead
Best known for his Bristolian caricature Terry the Odd Job Man, the comic from Southmead is bringing his new one-man show home after a hit run at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Meet the Bristol artist casting nipples to celebrate bodies
Ellen Downes’ pioneering bodycasting project aims to help women, trans and non-binary people 'connect to' their bodies, while challenging hypersexualisation and sexual harassment.