Freedom Festival from home, programme announced

Hull artist Downtown Kayoto photographed at The Deep. Photo: Tom Arran.

A festival where audiences expect the unexpected, Hull’s annual Freedom Festival will bring a flavour of its international arts festival direct to homes this September, responding to these unprecedented times with a programme broadcast digitally and via the BBC during what would have been the festival weekend. 

While there won’t be any epic spectaculars unfolding in the city this year, get ready for intimate moments where audiences and artists meet in the first of three events taking place over the next 12 months, with thought-provoking, playful and powerful performances addressing the world we live in. 

From Friday 4 until Sunday 6 September audiences can turn on, tune in and enjoy a curated programme of world-class art and culture from the comfort of their homes. 

Featuring international talent alongside local acts, expect robot selfies, timely debates which tackle issues of our time and bedtime stories the kids will remember for years. 

Mikey Martins, Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive of Freedom Festival Arts Trust, said: “In these unprecedented times we’re excited to bring extraordinary art and culture celebrating local and international talent direct to peoples’ homes this September, through intimate, playful and thought-provoking experiences and a much-needed celebration of humanity.

“We take pride in the many ways we connect with communities, our internationalism and our ability to respond to what’s happening in the world. With notions of freedom re-examined the programme explores the recent challenges we’ve faced and the reality of a post-COVID-19 future.  

“While we’re deeply disappointed Freedom Festival 2020 won’t take place in the streets and squares of Hull as it’s done for the past 12 years, we recognise our role in the local and global fight against coronavirus and our responsibility to protect our audiences, artists, team and city. This is one of three events we have planned in the next 12 months and we’re really excited for everyone to experience a somewhat different but equally joyous Freedom Festival as we navigate these challenging times.”

Submit your selfie and see if it’s selected to be drawn by robots on an empty Hull Truck Theatre stage as creative company Kaleider, who brought PIG to the city in 2018, aims to bring a sense of togetherness to a community physically separated for a long time. 

There’ll be surprises for some of the city’s young people as Luke Jerram’s sound illuminated artwork Lullaby is delivered at dusk to streets in the city, giving residents a bedtime story to remember.

Experience a look at trust and privilege in the age of Brexit in the third of Luke Wright’s trilogy of political verse, co-commissioned by Freedom Festival. 

Across, a spoken word collaboration by Lucas De Man and Company New Heroes, addresses the hopes and fears of three artists for our post-COVID-19 world.   

In a new partnership with BBC Introducing, tune in to hear incredible local artists perform in some of Hull’s most iconic locations never normally open to musicians. Would Emma Fee ever play a gig amidst the wonderful acoustics at The Guildhall where the council leader usually calls meetings to order? Or what about Hull singer Downtown Kayoto, playlisted by BBC Radio 1 in July, performing beats and words against the backdrop of The Deep?

Mikey added: “There are certainly a few perks to an online festival: no time-slot clashes, you don’t have to queue and you can create your own interval at any time you like! Plus, you can watch from the comfort of your own home.

“With freedom such a timely topic, we wanted to curate a talks programme addressing issues such as race and identity politics, the impact of COVID-19 on modern day slavery and surveillance capitalism. We’re delighted to partner with The Wilberforce Institute to bring influential speakers to the talks programme. 

With The Big Malarkey Festival unable to go ahead this year, Hull Libraries’ team behind the festival will present The Reset Lab at Freedom Festival, exploring what changes young people want to see in our post-pandemic world. From workshops with award-winning illustrators and authors to discussion and debate, the Lab will ask what should we keep and lose from lockdown and what can be built back better?

Anthony Baker, Executive Director and Joint CEO of Freedom Festival, continued: “The topic of freedom in today’s new world is crucially relevant and we’ve been determined to respond to the current issues. As you’d expect from Freedom, what we’ve curated is something multi-layered, surprising and experimental as we play with new artforms. 

“To enhance the experience of our digital programme, we’re really excited to launch a new app for 2020. The Freedom app will make it even easier for people to view our programme and save performances to their schedule. Download to tune in live, listen to podcasts, join debates, submit feedback and listen at a later date. We’ve wanted to do an app for a few years so this is the perfect opportunity so we can build on it as the festival returns to the city centre next year. We’re more than just a festival and the app will enable us to keep our audiences and artists informed of exclusive events and participation opportunities year-round. 

“We’re a resourceful and sustainable non-profit organisation and incredibly proud to be part of such an innovative and creative sector. While it’s a shame the festival can’t take place in its usual format, we’re excited to try something new and delighted to have the support of the BBC as our official media partner. 

“We’re incredibly thankful to Hull City Council, Arts Council England and all our local sponsors and partners for their continued support. Despite these challenging circumstances, we’re creative producers who believe art can enrich our society, support economic growth and provide people with entertainment. By hosting a festival we’re not only supporting the artistic community locally, nationally and internationally, we’re spreading the work of Freedom Festival even further as this year audiences across the world can tune in to our festival to see what Hull has to say!”     

To stay updated about news from Freedom Festival, download the app, visit www.freedomfestival.co.uk and sign up to the newsletter.

[Laura Andrew – Home PR]