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Best of Worcester Award for Staff Member

Congratulations to Dr Daniel Somerville, senior lecturer in Drama and Performance and Course Leader for BA Drama and Performance in the School of Arts, who has been awarded the Mayor of Worcester’s Best of Worcester Award 2020.

The award is in recognition of his contribution to the LGBTQ+ community of Worcester and was presented by former Mayor of Worcester, Cllr Allah Ditta, at a socially distanced ceremony on the steps of the Guildhall.

Dr Somerville shared the award with community organisers Amanda Hickling and Andre Oldfield.  The three recipients are the founders of Worcestershire Pride and have overseen the governance and events of the voluntary organisation from 2016 to 2019.

The organising committee of Worcestershire Pride was formed in 2016 in response to the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Florida, and in order to support the organising of a vigil for the LGBTQ+ community to express their solidarity with victims and their families.  At this event, the rainbow Pride flag was flown from the Guildhall for the first time in Worcester’s history.  The organising committee then went on to host the first Worcestershire Pride festival in 2017 and Worcester’s first Pride parade in 2018, with the festival and parade continuing in 2019.  The University of Worcester has supported Worcestershire Pride each year since 2017.

Alongside these activities, Dr Somerville also directed an arts and culture festival showcasing queer art and performance. As part of these activities he presented a public lecture on queerness in opera at the Hive in 2017 and his PhD practice research output Admiring La Stupenda at Worcester Arts Workshop in 2018. Many students and alumni have presented work at the Worcestershire Pride festival and Dr Somerville has mentored them and facilitated their involvement.

Dr Somerville’s position as treasurer and Director of Arts for Worcestershire Pride also informed his practice research activities concerning queer performance, autobiography and the identity of the opera queen.  This has recently culminated in a post-doctoral practice research output called Pavarotti and Me which explores queerness in operatic performance.

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