February 2020 Member's Breakfast

Date: 19 Feb 2020

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Connecting the dots between business and culture in Milton Keynes

Champion of interfaith relations and founding director of Milton Keynes Islamic Arts & Culture (MKIAC) Anouar Kassim MBE recently spoke to members of the Milton Keynes business

community – and encouraged them to break down the barriers between business and culture.

Speaking at the last Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership (MKBLP) event, Mr Kassim acknowledged that, historically, there had been difficulties in engaging with businesses, particularly since Brexit.

“In 2016, Brexit created a wave of negative emotions and people shrunk inwards, however it also provided opportunities for workforce and culture to gel together.”

Considered leaders in their respective communities and responsible for breaking down barriers, Mr Kassim drew parallels between MKIAC and MKBLP and acknowledged the work already being done between both parties to ‘join the dots’ between both business and cultural communities to create cohesion.

A fundamental element in building a bridge between arts and culture and the business community is the work MKIAC is carrying out with educational establishments, including MK College, and innovation underpins the entire project.

“Milton Keynes is all about delivering innovation and young people are the future of our digital life. Through our work with schools and colleges we are educating young people about new technology and innovation through art and culture.”

Through Big Lottery funds, MKIAC has engaged with community schools, teaching pupils mathematics in a creative manner, integrating digital light and coding.

“Through practical skills such as project management and financial analysis, the young people are really enhancing their confidence and employability chances. As well as creating community cohesion, we are fostering the skills business leaders are looking for in its future workforce.”

Recently, this work culminated in the Digital Light: Code Makers at Bletchley Park event which saw the iconic World War II code breaker building lit up with colours, codes, patterns and symbols.

A collaboration between MKIAC, Bletchley Park, digital and calligraphy artists and a whole host of local community groups and schools the event celebrated the intriguing relationship between maths, arts and creativity.

Founded in 2002 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, MKIAC has been celebrated for its efforts to break down barriers within diverse communities. Through his strategic delivery of high-quality inclusive Islamic Arts Heritage and Culture programmes within Milton Keynes, Mr Kassim continues to be a driving forces in creating cohesion between all communities within the city. Now, using the platform of Milton Keynes Business Leaders, MKIAC is further strengthening its links within the business community.

“We need to realise and appreciate how we are all unique, yet connected together.”