Liverpool’s Black Arts festival, BlackFest heads both online and to city venues this September for a week long programme of diverse and thought-provoking entertainment and events.
After two highly successful programmes in 2018 and 2019, BlackFest returns for its third annual festival this autumn with an exciting line up of music, theatre, film, performance, poetry, spoken word and panel discussions; many of them free to stream online.
The festival opens on Monday 21st September with Locks, an online discussion about prison systems and racial profiling, featuring writer, rapper and founder of RiseUpCIC, Ashleigh Nugent; international performer Tayo Aluko; and writer, D. Hunter.
The event, in partnership with UNITY Theatre, will also feature author and Death Row prisoner, Keith LaMar who will be sharing his story and experiences of life in prison, explaining how he is defending his innocence on Death Row, and sharing extracts from his book, Condemned.
On Tuesday 22nd September, artist and historian, Susan Goligher will lead an online conversation on the role of grassroots Art Practice and Protest, alongside fellow artist, Ekua Bayunu, and Manchester School of Architecture’s Ola Uduku. This is followed by Children Authors; a talk on the lack of diversity in the publishing industry, notably amongst child authors, featuring Phina Oruche and Patrick Graham.
The Wednesday of the festival features an online showcase of Spoken Word & Poetry, with an electric line up of talented poets, including special guest, Zita Holbourne, whilst Thursday features Black LGBTQi Matters; a talk about LGBTQi and Black Lives Matter, featuring a number of guest speakers, in partnership with Homotopia.
Saturday 26th September sees an electric line-up of Liverpool’s finest Black artists and musicians come together for a safe, socially distanced party at Constellations. Old Skool New Skool will showcase Merseyside talent such as, Tabitha Jade, Sub-Blue, LeeTz and Shak Omar, followed by DJ sets from DJ 2Kind and Hannah Lynch. The night will also include a discussion with the artists, hosted by Jennifer John and Yaw Owusu.
The festival concludes on the Sunday with Diversity Dialogues; an explorative talk on Liverpool’s slave trade history, featuring a panel of special guests including Dr. Leona Vaughn, Zita Holbourne, Ellis Eyo Thompson, historian Laurence Westgaph, Stephen Nze, the recently appointed chair for Liverpool’s Race Equality Taskforce, Tracey Gore and the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Anna Rothery.
With the aim of educating people, encouraging diversity and promoting Black Arts, BlackFest aims to educate, empower and improve equality in the arts scene. The festival answers a crucial need in the city’s cultural offering, celebrating Black Arts, and bridging the gap between institutions and the marginalized communities they represent.
BlackFest’s Artistic Director, Jubeda Khatun, said: “We’re really excited and proud to host BlackFest 2020. Despite the restrictions of Covid19, we’ve decided to go ahead with our events as we feel our message is even more important in light of Black Lives Matter and everything that’s happened this year. We have some incredible special guests this year and we’re looking forward to a thought provoking and inspiring week.”