After nine years of transformative leadership, Mikey Martins, the CEO and Artistic Director of Freedom Festival Arts Trust, is set to embark on a new chapter as the Festival Director of the prestigious Oerol Festival on the island of Terschelling in the north of The Netherlands. Mikey's departure marks the end of an era, but the Freedom Festival is poised for an exciting future, building upon the solid foundation he has laid.

The Freedom Festival 2024 will take place from Wednesday, August 28th, to Sunday, September 1st, promising to build on the festival's rich legacy and set the stage for continued success.

Since Mikey's appointment in 2015, the annual Freedom Festival has evolved into one of the most esteemed international arts festivals in the country. Renowned for its impactful exploration of themes related to social justice and commitment to arts participation, the festival under Mikey's stewardship has become synonymous with the celebration and examination of the concept of Freedom.

Mikey’s strategic vision and commitment to relevance were particularly evident during the challenges posed by the pandemic, where the Arts Trust successfully transitioned to an online programme, keeping the spirit of Freedom Festival alive.

His legacy extends beyond the flagship festival, with the introduction of The Awakening, a spring equinox celebration, and the presentation of the UK premiere of the Hull Vigil in 2021-22, a performance that involved 730 participants watching over the city for an entire year.

The impact of Freedom Festival Arts Trust on the local community and economy has been substantial. In 2023 alone, an estimated £4 million was spent within the local economy, showcasing the festival's significant contribution. The Freedom on Tour programme also saw international companies touring outside of the city, expanding the festival's reach and influence.

Since 2015, the organisation has supported over 400 artists, commissioned more than 120 new creative projects, engaged over 9,000 local participants, and involved more than 700 volunteers in various events.

Mikey Martins' final curated event will be the 2024 festival, featuring a lineup of innovative acts sure to captivate audiences and enhance the festival's legacy.

Trish Dalby, Vice Chair of Freedom Festival Arts Trust, expressed gratitude for Mikey's invaluable contribution: "Mikey leaves a strong and committed team who will continue the energy and vision that he has brought to the Freedom Festival. We wish him every success in his next adventure, knowing that he has been instrumental in making Hull’s Freedom Festival a pivotal cultural event in the national and international cultural diary.”

Cllr Mike Ross, Leader of Hull City Council, added: “I would like to put on record my thanks to Mikey for all the tremendous work he has done leading the Freedom Festival since joining us here in Hull 9 years ago. The festival’s international stature and reputation has grown significantly in that time, which is testament to Mikey’s dedication to making this one of the best arts and cultural festivals in the country. Freedom is now so much more than just the annual summer event. It has helped put Hull on the map nationally and internationally, while also seeing a boost for the local economy. While we will all be sorry to see Mikey depart, we wish him well for the future and know the festival and Hull has benefitted from his time with us.”

The board and senior management team, in collaboration with Mikey Martins, are actively planning the next steps for the festival and the organisation. The announcement of new leadership is eagerly anticipated and will be shared shortly.

Freedom Festival Arts Trust extends heartfelt thanks to Arts Council England, Hull City Council, University of Hull, Wykeland, KCOM, and all core supporters, partners, and funders for their ongoing support over the years.

Mikey Martins, the CEO and Artistic Director of Freedom Festival Arts Trust expressed his gratitude and said: "I am immensely proud of what we have achieved together at Freedom Festival, and I am confident that the organisation will continue to thrive under new leadership. I am grateful for the support of the community, partners, and sponsors, and I look forward to watching the festival's continued success.”