Festival Of Brexit Can Play Powerful Role In Healing UK Organiser Says


Festival Of Brexit Can Play Powerful Role In Healing UK Organiser Says

The organisers of a £120m national festival to be staged in 2022 have put out a call for creative minds to come up with “daring, new and popular” ideas to bring the UK together after Brexit.

The event, dubbed the Festival of Brexit when it was announced by then-prime minister Theresa May in 2018, now has the working title Festival UK 2022.

Chief creative officer Martin Green is looking for “big ideas” that can help heal the divisions surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU, and showcase British creativity to the world.

He will pick 10 – physical or virtual, happening anywhere and anyhow – to form the festival. They could be staged by people in the worlds of science, technology, engineering, the arts, maths, or a combination.

“This project was conceived to happen after our exit from the EU and acknowledges that we have been going through, and are going through, a divisive time,” Mr Green tells BBC News.

“Creativity has always proven itself brilliant at finding more of what we have in common than what we don’t. So the idea that projects can bring people together is a really timely one.”

Asked whether such an event can realistically heal divisions that have come to the fore in recent years as a result of political processes, Mr Green replies: “I would say that I imagine it has a powerful role to play.”

Mr Green was the head of ceremonies at the London 2012 Olympic Games and director of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture in 2017. Both went down as resounding successes and were, he says, examples of the unifying power of creativity, be that for a country or a city.

He also cites the acclaimed World War One centenary events masterminded by artists like Jeremy Deller and Danny Boyle. None of those projects were overtly political. “And neither is this,” Mr Green says. “Creativity, creative acts and big projects can sit to the side, above and below ‘Politics with a big P.'”

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He adds: “Remember, coming together and bringing people together isn’t about asking people all to think and believe the same thing. It’s about understanding each other and appreciating each other’s differences and commonalities.”

When she announced the festival two years ago, Mrs May said she wanted it to “celebrate our nation’s diversity and talent, and mark this moment of national renewal with a once-in-a-generation celebration”. Opponents questioned whether it was a moment that merited celebration.


Nevertheless, Mr Green believes creativity is “the best asset we have in finding ways forward and understanding the world we live in”.

Festival Of Brexit Can Play Powerful Role In Healing UK Organiser Says


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