‘The Festival of Brexit’ will feature a ‘physical manifestation of the British weather’... really

Harriet Brewis
Wednesday 24 March 2021 10:30
news

The festival’s organiser, Martin Green, was head of ceremonies at the London 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Games

(iStock/ Getty Images)

As thousands of Britons dream of a summer of tents, wellies and plastic cups of beer, there will soon be a brand new festival to get excited about.

How does a “celebration of the British weather” and a grow your own vegetables event sound?

Because those are among the highlights to be expected at the so-called “Festival of Brexit” being planned for next year.

That’s not the official name, however. Despite the event – which was commissioned by Theresa May’s government – already being four years in the making, a title hasn’t yet been decided.

It’s currently being referred to simply as Festival UK*2022.

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Whilst details of the £120million project are being kept under wraps until the end of the year, some tasters of what to expect were revealed on Tuesday.

Ten teams – consisting of artists, scientists, engineers,  technologists and mathematicians – have been selected out of 30 hopefuls to run events across the country after successfully pitching ideas.

These include “a cosmic adventure exploring immersive experiences, new technologies, science innovation, social media, youth culture and the power of the imagination to change perspectives, dismantle boundaries and ignite the creative energy of towns across the UK" and “an experiment in mass participation, co-creation, shared histories, sustainabilities, installation, performance and spectacle through the lens of nature, multiculturalism and ritual and reclaiming space”.

One will feature “a physical manifestation and celebration of the British weather” and another will “empower” the nation by encouraging people to grow their own vegetables in reclaimed spaces.

The vegetable project, led by the Glasgow-based Approxima Arts Collective, will be “the largest grow your own’ project of modern times,” Donald Shaw, a member of the team, said.

“It is very much about ambition, imagination and inclusivity.”

Supporters of the festival refute the “Festival of Brexit” moniker, with chief creative officer Martin Green insisting that it’s about bringing people together and celebrating creativity in events that are “open, original and optimistic”.

“We didn’t want to name it until we knew its content,” he explained. “And we didn’t know its content until we asked the creatives of the UK what it is. Now we know the content of the 10 projects, we’ll go into the branding of it.”

Green, whose CV includes the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies and Hull’s City of Culture programme.

He has also praised ministers for staying out of the artistic process, according to the Telegraph, saying: “The Government committed to flinging this out there and let the creatives of the UK tell us what this festival could and should be.”

The festival, which has the backing of Boris Johnson, will be funded by the Government but the devolved UK leaders are also fully on board, according to the Guardian.

Sharing his excitement for the event, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “These ten showstopper projects will wow audiences in towns and cities across the country, and show off the UK and its creative genius to the world.

“Alongside the Commonwealth Games, and Platinum Jubilee, they will make 2022 a year to remember, bringing the nation together as we build back stronger from the pandemic.”

More: How one make-up artist turned the pandemic into a time of creativity

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