Threshold Studios Co-Founder Uzma Johal receives MBE

Threshold Studios are thrilled to announce that Co-Founder and Director Uzma Johal has been awarded an MBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List for services to the Digital Economy in the East Midlands.

The award recognises Uzma’s significant contributions in championing diversity and equality of voices in the arts and media landscape, fostering talent and devising routes into industry for those who are currently under- represented. She has been producing new media art since 1998, and is the Festival Director of Lincoln’s Frequency Festival of Digital Culture, established in 2011.

Uzma’s extensive career in arts and media began in 1994 after graduating from King Alfred’s College, Winchester where she studied Drama, Theatre and TV Production. Inspired by the power of live and recorded media in giving voice to communities, she sought out experiences in both broadcast and community settings.

In 1998, after having to relocate from London, Uzma set up with like-minded creatives, Don’t Look Now, a voluntary artist-led organisation committed to developing local media artists and supporting local communities in Northamptonshire. Its rapid success evolved in the establishment of Threshold Studios, a not-for-profit social enterprise whose mission is ‘Creative Media for Social Change.’

In her role as Co-Founder and Director of Threshold Studios, she has driven the ethos and vision behind the company and has passionately advocated for initiatives that prioritise participation, innovation and development of creativity in the UK.

She served on Arts Council England’s Regional and then Area Councils for eight years championing and advocating for diversity and equity in the arts, especially for new and emerging talent, as well as the opportunities technology affords the sector in connecting with a wide spectrum of audiences and communities.

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said:

“We’re delighted to see Uzma awarded an MBE for her services to arts and culture. Her extensive experience has seen her co-found and lead Threshold’s boundary-pushing work over the last 18 years. Bringing this knowledge and commitment to our Area and Regional Council’s, Uzma has played an important role in helping shape the vibrant cultural landscape of the Midlands. This is a well-deserved achievement and we look forward to seeing what she goes on to achieve next.”

Uzma has done significant strategic development work in arts and education sectors across the East Midlands, delivering digital strategies and facilitating organisations to embrace technology into their futures, as well as brokering partnerships with the Higher Education sector to unlock opportunities for meaningful and sector specific internships and collaborative production in new and emerging technologies.

As Festival Director of Lincoln’s Frequency Festival of Digital Culture, established in 2011 with partners in the City of Lincoln, she has led the festival to become a distinctive feature in cultural calendars, reaching over 17,000 people in 2015, as well as being a key driver for economic development in the region.

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Lincoln, said:

“Frequency Festival of Digital Culture brings people of all ages and backgrounds together to enjoy the work of digital artists from all over the world, with our historic city providing a unique backdrop. Uzma brings great energy, vision and leadership to Frequency, ensuring it continues to enrich the arts and digital ecology in Lincoln and beyond.”

Uzma Johal, Co-founder and Director of Threshold Studios, said:

“I am so honoured and humbled by this news and must acknowledge the amazing Threshold Studios team and board, who have worked tirelessly to realise our ambitions. It certainly takes an army and I am also grateful to our funders, collaborators and partners for continuing to support us in enabling the next generation of digital creatives to take flight.”