Freedom Talks 2023

The Art of Change


With a focus on creative practice and its potential to impact and raise awareness of issues impacting social justice, climate adaptation and as always to stay true to our roots, we will be looking closely at modern-day concepts of Freedom from a creative perspective.

Freedom Festival Arts Trust in partnership with key colleagues from the University of Hull, historians and journalists working with The Guardian newspaper's Cotton Capital and Legacies of enslavement projects, partners of the InSitu Network from Oerol Festival (Netherlands) La Strada Festival (Austria) colleagues from The CircusCentrum (Belgium) Ell Circo D'ell Fuego and Cirkus in Beweging and our friends at Outdoor Arts UK have all come together to co-design this 4 day year’s annual Freedom Talks programme, it's going to be a very inspiring and informative few days!

The Freedom Talks (formally Symposium) is not just a place for Creatives, Academics, Artists and Festival Professionals, but for anyone from any sector who is interested in the impact of arts-based research, arts and festivals in public space and the impact socially driven arts practice can make in modern-day society.

It is a place to meet, network, listen to extraordinary stories of creative practice and experience extraordinary interactive content as part of this year’s multi-disciplinary International Arts Festival.

 Reserve tickets to our sessions

 Freedom Festival Symposium offers a space to be inspired, motivated, challenged and to discuss.



Day 1

Thursday 31st August – 1pm - 5pm (BSL Interpreted)
Middleton Hall @ University of Hull 

Session 1 : Creativity and Climate adaptation awareness Part 1

Panel discussion on Creativity and Climate adaptation awareness Part 1, chaired by Louise Smith, Director of Aura. Featuring Dr Kate Smith of the Risky Cities project, Dr Gill Hughes focusing on the Ideas Fund, Dr Jones leading on the Youth-led Adaptation to Climate Change project and local artist Fred Garland, the driver behind the Turning the Tide project working with the University.


Session 2: Academia, Journalism and Creativity: The Guardian's Cotton Capital & Legacies of Enslavement Project

Dr Cassandra Gooptar, University of Hull historian and researcher, in conversation with Ebony Riddell Bamber – Programme Director of the Guardian legacies of enslavement project and Courtney Yusuf from the 'Today in Focus' team about their experience of working on the Guardian’s ‘Cotton Capital’ special series and the impact and breadth of the creative collaborations behind it.


Day 2

Friday 1st September – 10am - 5pm (BSL Interpreted)
Middleton Hall @ University of Hull

 Session 1: Creativity and Climate adaptation awareness Part 2 - building long term alliances: International Perspectives

Kees Lesuis (Oerol Festival, Netherlands), Werner Schempf (La Strada Festival, Austria) and Kate Wood (activate Performing Arts, UK) talk about national and international long term creative projects which have affected policy, community attitudes and raised awareness of climate adaptation in the Netherlands and Austria

Session 2: Creative responses to the (mis)representation of migrants 

During 2022/2023 Via Berlin toured the extraordinary theatrical work  'Acts of Citizenship', the company worked together with researchers from the University of Amsterdam to research fundamental questions about empathy, influence and how we engage with one another. During the performance (together with Berlage Saxophone Quartet), the audience served as test subjects for exciting new research.

Dagmar Slagmolen (Director of Via Berlin) Matthijs Rooduijn (UVA scientist) and Gaida Dirar (Artist) discuss ‘Acts of Citizenship’ and the collective behind the ‘Tomorrow’ exhibition and work of the Freedom Women Collective.

Session 3: How Creative Practice Can Impact Mental health and Recovery

Dr Angel Urbina Garcia is chairing the discussion on Creative impact on health and well being - a focus on young people where Andrew Smith (Wilberforce Institute) and Joris Herweyer (Project Coordinator of TaRMaK / Ell Circo D'ell Fuego) discuss their projects and their impact on children’s wellbeing.

Session 4 - Key Note Presentation

Luis J Rodriquez

Luis served as the official Poet Laureate of Los Angeles between 2014-2016. For Luis poetry is soul talk, a prophetic act, a powerful means to enlarge one's presence in the world.

Luis is a novelist/memoirist/short story writer/children's book writer/essayist as well as a community & urban peace activist, mentor, healer, youth & arts advocate, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He is also co-founder of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural, providing arts and events in the San Fernando Valley.

At the end of Luis's talk, Trini Rodriguez will lead us in a healing circle. Trini Rodriguez is herself a successful author, advocate for undocumented people's rights, and poet but also a facilitator of sweat-lodge and healing circles in Chicano, Mexica and Diné traditions. She has reclaimed her Indigenous roots in order to embrace healing as a practice for a better world.

 "I met a fella named Luis Rodriguez, a writer and a poet, who had a ... cultural center in Los Angeles. These are people I've known and worked with for a long time. These are the people trying to fill the holes that should long ago have been filled by government. Those are the people who give me optimism. They're relentlessly hopeful, and they face it all on the front lines on a daily basis.”
- Bruce Springsteen from Rolling Stone magazine, November 15, 2007





Day 3

Saturday 2nd September – 10am - 1pm (BSL Interpreted)
Social - Humber Street, Hull City Centre

Spotlight on Flanders
Session 1 : Overview of the Flanders Circus Arts sector
Session 2: Impact of Circus on health and well being 

Spotlight on Flanders Is a partnership project with Circuscentrum, funded by VLAIO (Brexit Adjustment Reserve) with the aim to invest in long-term cooperation between Flanders and the UK in the circus field.

The projects puts Flemish circus creations in the spotlight and brings together Flemish and UK circus professionals to facilitate exchange and share examples of best practise with a view to foster new collaborations in the spirit of learning from each other.


Day 4

Sunday 3rd September – 10am - 12pm (BSL Interpreted)
Social - Humber Street, Hull City Centre

Outdoor Arts UK Fundraising Workshop
We live and work in hugely challenging times – cash is tight everywhere you look and for those working in the arts, just the thought of seeking new funding can cause major panic or a minor brain freeze. And let’s not forget environmental issues, international conflicts and wonky global politics… 

So, if you are feeling lost in the lands of applications and spreadsheets, these free informal sessions are designed to be a friendly space to share your frustrations, explore ideas together and reignite your funding mojo… 

After some breakfast treats and some short presentations for inspiration and example, we will gather in small groups to talk as broadly and creatively as possible, share our funding woes and, hopefully, start to find a way through the woods. 

These free sessions are for artists, companies, arts organisations and festivals of any size or any experience. While we focus on outdoor arts, other local creative organisations are very welcome to join in.

With contributions from Mikey Martins, Artistic Director & CEO of Freedom Festival, Kath Wynne Hague - Director of Culture, Place and City Centre, Hull City Council and Nesta Sheehan, Producer at Back to Ours and Angus MacKechnie, Director of OutdoorArtsUK.

RESERVE YOUR FREE PLACE HERE for Day 4 with Outdoor Arts UK >>> OutdoorArtsUK Funding Focus
(Please note this is a separate reservation process from the rest of our talks)


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