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Our story

"Great indeed are our opportunities; great also is our responsibility."
- William Wilberforce

Rise! By L' homme Debout, Freedom Festival 2018. Image by Tom Arran.

Excellent arts and culture can change lives and communities, by transmitting fundamental human values and inspiring all ages to embrace and celebrate our freedom.  Our ambition is founded on the legacy of Hull-born freedom advocate, William Wilberforce.

Freedom Festival Arts Trust was born in 2013 as a not-for-profit organisation & Charity to deliver the Freedom Festival and an all-year programme of work. The festival, which was then in its 6th year, was originally established as part of the 2007 William Wilberforce commemorations, celebrating the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade. 

Since then, the Freedom Festival has become one of the UK’s leading international arts festivals, with audiences in excess of 100,000 people descending on the city of Hull each year to experience and participate in a bold, radical and ground-breaking programme of work.

Hull. A community with culture.

We champion the city of Hull, commissioning world-class art and nurturing local talent, while consistently being able to evidence a tangible and enduring contribution in the social well-being, cultural offer and economic standing of the city. 

We are committed to championing artists and activating public space, altering perceptions of venue-based programmes and deepening engagement. We achieve this by remaining relevant, ambitious, agile and critical to the community in which we reside and the sector which we serve. 

We continue to nurture a more collaborative culture, seeking every opportunity to connect artists, audiences, art forms, human rights advocates, academia, local businesses, creative partners and civic authorities that support and work with us and our communities. 

Freedom Festival 2017 - Saturday-546
Saturday Co Chameleon Witness This Festival Gardens (c) Tom Arran (12)
Freedom Festival 2016 - Friday Teaser-27

Rooted in freedom.

As an international arts organisation, we are a gateway to exceptional international makers, providing an exciting opportunity for the city and for creatives in the city to network, collaborate and to be inspired. 

Building on the foundations of William Wilberforce’s legacy, all our work is rooted in our commitment to building a stronger and fairer society. By operating in public space, we are able to create incredible moments and opportunities for people from all walks of life to come together, to cross paths, engage, strike up a conversation and discover and experience something new. 

Through our festival and year-round programme of work, we explore ways in which to amplify voices, illuminate human stories and allow people to inspire and be inspired by others.

A gateway to exceptional international makers, providing an exciting opportunity for the city and for creatives in the city to network, collaborate and to be inspired.