Why we’re talking about . . .

Festival of Brexit: what to expect from £120m ‘cosmic adventure’

Newly announced events include a ‘physical manifestation’ of British weather

Theresa May’s plan for a “showstopper” nationwide celebration following the UK’s departure from the EU is set to become reality next year, organisers have confirmed.

Ten “collectives” - made up of artists, scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians - who successfully pitched ideas have got the go-ahead to plan events across the country for the  £120m festival, which was signed off by Boris Johnson last year.

‘Not about Brexit’

The event was dubbed the “Festival of Brexit” by Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg after then prime minister May first announced the plan back in 2018.

But “organisers are keen to downplay any political aspect to the event”, says The Independent.

Festival chief Martin Green told The Guardian last year that the main goal was simply to bring the nation together with “a bit of joy and hope and happiness”.

Shrugging off the Brexit tag, he added: “It’s a nice line and it makes you look, but I’d argue if you dig down … what on Earth would that be about?”

Exactly what the event is about remains unclear, however, with The Telegraph pointing out that “although it is already four years in the making, the festival still has no name and is going by the working title of Festival UK*2022”.

After announcing the collectives picked to lead the planning, Green told the paper: “We didn’t want to name it until we knew its content, and we didn’t know its content until we asked the creatives of the UK what it is. Now we know the content of the ten projects, we’ll go into the branding of it."

What will these projects involve?

The exact nature of the celebrations is to be kept under wraps until later in the year, but organisers have hinted at an eclectic mix of events. 

Indeed, details released this week “suggest that, if the festival is not left-wing, it is certainly left-field”, says The Telegraph.

The festival team have described one of the projects as “a cosmic adventure exploring immersive experiences, new technologies, science innovation, social media, youth culture and the power of the imagination to change perspectives, dismantle boundaries and ignite the creative energy of towns across the UK”.

Another is billed as “an experiment in mass participation, co-creation, shared histories, sustainabilities, installation, performance and spectacle through the lens of nature, multiculturalism and ritual and reclaiming space”. 

One of the collectives is out to “empower” the nation by encouraging people to grow their own vegetables in reclaimed spaces.

And another team is hoping to brighten Britons’ lives with “a physical manifestation and celebration of the British weather”.

Culture secretary Oliver Downden says the festival - being funded by the government - “will make 2022 a year to remember, bringing the nation together as we build back stronger from the pandemic”.

“These ten showstopper projects will wow audiences in towns and cities across the country, and show off the UK and its creative genius to the world,” he added.

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