As the UK’s first Festival of Sanctuary, it is fitting that the 10th annual Journeys Festival International began with the re-awarding of the ‘Festival of Sanctuary’ title which is granted every three years by the national City of Sanctuary organisation. Thanks to Reverend Pete Hobson, Chair of Leicester City of Sanctuary, who presented the certificate at the festival opening. It’s fantastic to see the team’s hard work recognised again with this award and was a heart-warming opening to a wonderful festival weekend.
At its core, the Arts Council England funded Journeys Festival International explores migration and the world around us, providing creative platforms and opportunities for artists from around the world. This year, the festival delivered a three-day celebration of international arts and performances across Leicester’s city centre, celebrating its 10th birthday.
The festival also featured the finale of the three-year long Creative Europe funded programme Liberty EU, which has also been exploring cultural connections and creativity across borders, but with a particular focus on young artists. This year’s Journeys Festival International was a perfect place to celebrate and share some of the fabulous projects and commissioned work created by the Liberty EU partners.
Audiences in Leicester were treated to artworks, exhibitions, projects and performances by artists from Turkey, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Finland and the UK. There were significant contributions from local participants to exhibitions and local performers who featured in the large-scale outdoor performance of Rush by Southpaw Dance Company on Saturday evening.
Across the weekend, over 20 performances and projects were available for people to enjoy and included a festival newspaper created by artists and the local community, comedy shows, dance performances, international live music, artificial intelligence games and a huge variety of shows performed in the city centre streets for free.
With over 100 visiting artists and almost the same number of event support staff, crew, Art Reach team and volunteers, delivering a varied programme of activities over the entire weekend certainly held its challenges. Thanks to a fantastic production team and help from key partners in the city, we were able to create a backstage festival hub for the performers, technicians and team members to come together, get fed and watered plus provide a space to rest between performances on one of the hottest weekends this summer. This was hugely appreciated by all involved and certainly helped everyone to give the festival all the energy that delivering on a city-wide scale requires.
We also invited the All In group to the festival, a Leicester-based initiative whose members explore the city’s cultural venues and events to see which improvements can be made for accessibility and inclusivity purposes, so we can learn first hand how to improve our access facilities and information. We shall continue to work with All In as we strive to improve inclusivity for each edition of the festival. We also aim to build on this year’s success of gaining the Attitude is Everything Standard Bronze Charter for accessibility and inclusivity for audiences.
From a crowded Clock Tower to fully booked shows at Curve Theatre and Leicester Guildhall, the weekend was a great success. The sounds of laughter, applause and music carried through the city streets as people from around the world and living in Leicester came together to experience and deliver a truly international festival weekend. The sheer scale and brutal beauty of Southpaw Dance Company’s show Rush performed against the derelict backdrop of Crown House in Lee Circle shows why developing and celebrating international communities is now more important than ever.
Journeys Festival International 2022 has seen a plethora of amazing productions that have engaged audiences of all ages, bringing free cultural activities to audiences in Leicester. Delivering a festival of this scale, the Art Reach team wants to thank all the wonderful people who have been involved in making this weekend special!
Our festival will return in 2023 but until then, why not join us for a night of myth, music and love at Dido’s Bar. Click here to read more.