Pawlet Brookes MBE is the founder, CEO and artistic director of Serendipity Institute for Black Arts and Heritage. An experienced and highly respected senior leader and producer, Brookes has been at the forefront of the development of Black arts in the UK since she was appointed Marketing Manager at the Nia Centre (Manchester) in the 90s, then Artistic Director of Peepul Centre (Leicester) and ultimately Chief Executive of Rich Mix (London).
Brookes has been the Arts Council assessor for a number of Black arts capital projects, such as Bernie Grant Arts Centre (London) and National Centre for Carnival Arts (Luton). She has over 30 years’ experience as a cultural leader with expertise in partnership building, international programming and cultural diversity. She is the trailblazer behind several initiatives with arts and cultural organisations both in the UK and internationally.
As founder, CEO and artistic director of Serendipity, Brookes has pioneered the establishment of an annual dance festival in Leicester since 2011, Let’s Dance International Frontiers, and coordinates the high profile annual Black History Month Leicester. With Serendipity she has produced two heritage initiatives Lost Legends: 30 Years of Black History Month in Leicester (2016-2017) and Archiving the Past: Reflecting the Future (2018-2020). Under Brookes’ leadership, Serendipity was recently awarded £760k to support the development of a new project Unearthed: Forgotten Histories, one of the largest grants given by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to a Black arts and heritage organisation.
Brookes has produced several large-scale projects including two for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, Ballare: To Dance with classical composer Phillip Herbert, and Follow the Light, a carnival parade as part of the Olympic torch relay in the East Midlands. In her extensive career, she has worked alongside a wide range of international artists, directors and companies from Soweto Kinch to Nina Simone, Steven Berkoff, Scottish Ballet, Geraldine O’Connor, Ballet Black, Mahogany Arts, Daksha Sheth, Phillip Herbert, Mica Paris, Akala, Gil Scott Heron, Aswad, Kyle Abraham, Germaine Acogny and Philadanco.
Brookes has edited over 18 publications focusing on Black arts, heritage including Serious About Dance – Let’s Talk (2005), Hidden Movement: Contemporary Voices of Black British Dance (2013), Reflections: Irrepressible Voices of Black British Cultural Resilience (2020), Creating Socially Engaged Art: Can Dance Change the World? (2021) and BlackInk: Arts, Heritage and Cultural Politics, a magazine published annually for Black History Month.
Brookes is currently a member of Arts Council England’s Area Council and an associate lecturer at Falmouth University, has been a speaker at a number of international conferences, including being the UK representative at a UNESCO conference in Stockholm. Brookes was a finalist for the 2009 National Regeneration and Renewals Award for Cultural Leadership and recipient of BME Leader of the year at the East Midlands Women’s Awards 2018 and One Dance UK’s Outstanding Programme Award 2018 for Let’s Dance International Frontiers. Brookes was awarded an MBE for services to the arts and cultural diversity in the 2022 New Year Honours. In 2023, she was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Northern School of Contemporary Dance.