In response to the Covid-19 crisis and following careful consideration, Freedom Festival Arts Trust has announced that the city’s annual Freedom Festival will not take place outdoors in September as planned, but with an exciting, wide-ranging broadcast and online programme which can be enjoyed at home.

Mikey Martins, Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive of Freedom Festival Arts Trust, said“While we’re deeply disappointed Freedom Festival 2020 will not be taking place in the streets and squares of Hull as it has done for the past 12 years, we’re excited to bring art and culture directly into peoples’ homes this September, through intimate, playful and thought-provoking experiences.

“We made the decision to move our festival for audiences to enjoy and experience online and via broadcast on the BBC because we recognise our role in the local and global fight against coronavirus and responsibility to protect our audiences, artists, team and city during what is an unprecedented time for us all.

“We take pride in the many ways we connect with communities, our internationalism and our ability to respond to what is happening in the world, proudly producing a festival where audiences expect the unexpected. With notions of freedom having to be re-examined at this time and in the pioneering spirit of William Wilberforce, who inspired the festival, we’re excited to be creating an alternative programme that takes on those challenges and will be presented online and via the BBC during what would have been festival weekend.”

Martyn Weston, Managing Editor at BBC Radio Humberside, said “The BBC in this region has been proudly involved with the Freedom Festival in recent years so we are delighted to be working together as a new broadcast partner. Although it will be a very different experience this year we are looking forward to delivering events live on BBC Radio Humberside, via our website, as well as the BBC Sounds app. We are excited our unsigned music show BBC Music Introducing will be part of the festival for the first time and we are looking at ways we can showcase content made by people at home via our new BBC Upload programme.”

From Friday 4 to Sunday 6 September, Freedom Festival will continue to bring audiences together through a lively and thought-provoking programme of regional, national and internationally renowned artists, including live music, spoken word and poetry, talks and interactive debates, digital installations and playful and artistic activities that can be experienced and enjoyed at home. This has been made possible thanks to a new two-year partnership with the BBC and its invaluable technological experience to showcase an interactive, digital programme of activity. More details about Freedom Festival At Home will be announced soon.

Although uncertainty remains as to the time when large-scale outdoor events will safely be able to take place again, Freedom Festival is continuing to plan and develop other projects for public space ready for when the conditions are right for audiences to gather together.  Expect Freedom Festival at its finest, from intimate to epic moments where audiences and artists will once again meet.

Freedom Festival is working towards presenting outdoor work in early 2021 – public health conditions permitting – and a full festival in early September 2021.

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. What we’re proposing is something multi-layered, surprising and experimental – as you would expect from Freedom – as we play with new artforms.

“We are a resourceful and sustainable non-profit organisation and are incredibly proud to be part of such an innovative and creative sector. While we’re disappointed the festival can’t take place in its usual format, we’re excited to try something new and are delighted to have the support of the BBC as our official media partner. The BBC have always been great supporters of the festival and this partnership will cement this relationship further.

“Despite these challenging and heart-breaking circumstances, we are creative producers and our passion for bringing hope and joy in the form of world-class art to the city is unwavering because we truly believe art can enrich our society and that it will always find a way.

“As a festival that has always celebrated and responded to global issues, as soon as the world is ready, we will delight audiences with the outdoor spectacles we know they love – with surprises in the pipeline for early next year.”

Anthony Baker continued: “This is such a difficult time and like many other festivals and event organisers, we have spent many weeks carefully considering the impact of the pandemic and social distancing realities. The wellbeing of our team and audiences has to be our first priority, alongside the sustainability of our festival. We are incredibly thankful to Hull City Council, Arts Council England and our local sponsors and partners for their continued support.”

Since the lockdown commenced, the festival team has been publishing creative content online for people to enjoy at home, with free digital content for families to explore. Visit the festival website to download the free Freedom at Home resources.

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