BLM

Our Response

LOCKDOWN AND BLACK LIVES MATTER

It feels like the arts sector was completely shut down during lockdown and in many ways, it was, especially in the theatre and live performance sectors. As many companies and festivals, BlackFest has been working hard to move online and has supported artists by providing consistent work through our digital BlackFest LIVE Lounge and Night in Series.

Throughout the pandemic, we have seen the impact in our communities and how disproportionately Covid-19 has been affecting Black and Brown people. This had a major impact on our work, losing loved ones, and seeing poor mental-health and well-being on the rise throughout the communities. The pandemic exposed and revealed deep-seated trauma within our ethnic and Black communities and the racism in society, that frankly, has always existed.

The death of George Floyd has been so difficult for us. Being a black-led organisation, underfunded with many vulnerable artists and communities that we engage with, our output and attention have been directed to supporting the moral artists and communities remotely while also supporting our board of directors.

The rise of Black Lives Matter during Covid-19 has created greater awareness of the injustices of prejudice and racism, and a sense of solidarity has become more prominent, but the work is not over. BlackFest will not stop working towards support and equity for Black creatives.

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amina atiq
dazy!
vivi

Black Lives Matter Soundscape.

At BlackFest we have been in deep reflection and contemplation during this time. We wanted to create a meaningful, creative response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Our artistic director Jubeda Khatun decided to use the strength of our varied creative community of artists, to curate an anti-racist soundscape that embodies the ebb and flow of collective personal responses. Through the medium of poetry and spoken word pieces, the sense pain and of resilience are given expression through voices of the artists that we have engaged who are from Black and other backgrounds but who are active in campaigning for racial equality and restorative justice.

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Micro Commissions

We were able to create micro commissions for 22 artists, mentoring their way through the process. International and UK artists, from many different backgrounds, joined forces, and spoke creatively and freely on the term black and BLM means to them. This was heartfelt, provocative and came with many important messages, such as, ‘Love me for the colour of my skin,’ ‘Black is the valley from which humanity’s deepest truths flow,’ ‘Inspire like Obama, Abbott or Sir Learie.’

Artistic Vision

Our artistic director asked the artists to write a positive piece of poetry about what Black means to them. It didn’t have to be long, it could just be 5 lines. Linguistically this challenged the artists to create a positive pieces of poetry that saw themes around Blackness which envisioned, celebrated, Black and safe together, Black and protection, and uplifting darkness, yin and yang away from the negative narrative we are so conditioned to see.

This was inspired by the pandemic, which has been described by many as “a cocoon of complete darkness that we are living in, and one day we will emerge as a butterfly”. In the blackness is when the caterpillar transforms, metamorphosis takes place and the butterfly emerges. This sense of transformation is why this process soundscape was so important. Jubeda not only challenged the artists to write such poetry, but also asked them to see the darkness, Blackness, not in the way we have been conditioned to think, but to shift it to a greater purpose. To change the narrative and in language, visually speaking, Black is charged with positive connotations around it. We wanted to affirm its truth.

Artist's Response

We received a varied response to the original brief, and some of our artists were angry and full of pain. We quickly realised that we needed to hold space for this expression and that there weren’t many safe spaces in which our artists felt they could express their raw emotions. Everything our artists were feeling was valid, the hurt, the pain, the anger was part of this journey that we took with them, and it was a challenge to write positively as the media has conditioned a negative narrative, that is so deeply seated. This is when we returned to the artists to write another poem, which celebrated Blackness.

Final Piece

We collated all the creative responses so we now have an eclectic piece with everything felt during the height of reaction to George Floyd’s murder and what we want to see going forward – we have the empowerment, the pain. catharsisism, anger, beauty, sadness, hope and justice. Change the narrative and see pieces of work that are authentic and challenge the status quo. One where we write a narrative completely free.

Composed with powerful words of inspiration, spirituality, pain and frustration it’s also a soundscape with words to uplift for black celebration. By creating the soundscape the hope was to be able to pull all of these emotions together and push the story towards a reminder of the essence of beauty of power attached to blackness – Breezy idegoyke.

“Opening with a questioning of blackness, and setting the tone of our struggles, the tribal and native rhythms were introduced to help remind of ourselves of geographical origin, Africa.

The soundscape progresses to being reminded of the struggles of living outside of that environment today. What can sometimes feel like a dark, heavy burden weighing heavy on the heart is matched with big drops and heavy kicks in the sounds space. From there we enter depths of blackness to which we emerge into beautiful brightness. To support the spiritual feeling that was also present in the narrative it is matched with the synthesizers and light pads sounds to make the scene very wide and atmospheric. To draw it to a close, it was a reminder of diversity on the narrative and explanations of blackness, using different expressions and different languages. To finish we closed out with music in jazz form, this was to remind ourselves of the true essence of being black in its wholeness.”

 We are so proud of this piece of work, which encompasses bravery, hope, and real emotion. We are hoping to curate and organise more collaborations and commissions like this in the future, and we look forward to continuing a long and healthy relationship with these wonderful artists who were involved.

BlackFest Soundscape

3 songs / 49 min

  1. Blackness – Various Artists


Produced and Sound engineered by Breezy Idegoke
BlackFest Ltd All rights reserved with copyright ©

Written by..

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Aleasha

When asked about blackness
I see
My humanity
So obvious
So close, it IS my skin
I feel my breath
And I know I am alive

The other black is what happens to you when you leave your house
and learn that you were not always included in all the us’es
That’s the black in their eyes, not mine.

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Blu Boy

If you didn’t see us as a threat

It feels like I look on the screen, and see my people portrayed as thugs, killers, Gang members, addicts, drug dealers.
Yeah it’s a reflection on some
What about scientists, inventors? Or does that not fit the narrative?
Paint us as villainous killers, like we don’t feel compassion
like we come out the womb wanting to commit stabbings,
Like we’re just born violent, like we run round the streets like tyrants
Fighting amongst each other. Spilling our own blood.
Is this picture you’ve painted of us so your police force can justify the forever rising body count of Black corpses.
Yuh lucky we ain’t saying bum down Babylon forces
If you didn’t see us as a threat you wouldn’t come to protest riding horses,
You wouldn’t think Stephan Lawrence’s own friend murdered him!
If you didn’t see us as a threat you wouldn’t clutch your purse, or cross the street when you see us,
If you didn’t see us as less intelligent why would you predict grades that we exceed by far!
If you didn’t think of us as criminals why would stop us for driving a nice car!
like we can’t be lawyers, Doctors, architects
Assume we don’t have that intelligence or potential?

Treat us a like a major threat, gun us down while we’re jogging we can’t even break a sweat!

Yes I’m a black man who’s angry bun a stereotype
I’m angry because I’m hurt, because I’m in pain because I see people that look like my cousins, my mother my girlfriend, myself murdered again and again!
And if we were the monsters you see us as we wouldn’t want justice we’d want revenge!

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Breezy

iDeyGoke

Don’t be alarmed by my people
Salaam salaam with this peace I’m peaceful
Yoruba man got the hammer in agbada
Judging by the look fashion killer on a mazza
Tried to show colour they just want the Yamma Yamma
Beg you don’t vex when we don’t move with no manners
They call me black this they call me black that
Put me for blacklist they say they fear blackout
They don’t mind that the algorithm ain’t for us
Till we’re giving real life warnings
When I arrive in the place they will rival the face
But iDeyGoke
Exposure is not a payment
Till emails get leaked and it leads to blackmailing
You don’t want me dark in your life as a black man
Buchalli dubh but got colour on the kaftan
You don’t think Black Lives Matter
Till your laying In Mater
Black nurse black doctor
Seen a lot posting not much listening
Who’s gone speak up speak out different
Turn the phone off what life are you living
I’ve been on road ain’t got nowt from drilling
Money ain’t power till you uplift vision
So my Netflix now is a money heist mission
Storm the castle take back privilege
But see the traps for new path new visions
Man might just go up the hill Jack a Jillin
I don’t give a damn how no Karen been feeling
No honesty in business no loyalty among thieves
Prayed for clean record, no dirt to touch name
Born as a lion king got thrown into a bugs a life
Mr. Richie Rich think he slick with the contracts
Fa Korede, success coming in
I come from where you fight lions and show face
Tell me who won it’s the belly of the beast that we come from
You ain’t seen no life like this
Opps all looks the same can’t differentiate
Know the real but baby still work the play

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Ashleigh Nugent

Blackness

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Gavin Odhiambo Okello-Davies

Black is absorbing the shockwaves and becoming richer
Black is the valley from which humanity’s deepest truths flow
Black is walking with the ancestors in your step
Black is victory
Black is the Garden of Eden
Black is the Mother Goddess
Black is the fertile soil
Black is beauty
Black is untold fortune
Black is a privilege
Black is Africa
Black is the valley from which humanity’s deepest truths flow

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Maureen Chioma Amadi

I AM BLACK

I AM BLACK
Black like carbon, the element of creation
The blue sky, yellow sun, and red earth to make a nation
They want to tar us with our black
But we are painted ebony like the brilliant night sky with blinking crystal stars
Charcoal, ore, ash and graphite to put my voice to paper
Black gold running slick through my veins under the terra-cotta topography of my skin
I am forever grateful to my maker

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Raven Macguire

Africa is the motherland
Africa is where God laid his hand
for us humans to be born
Africa is where everyone one of us is from
Melanin fades when you don’t get enough sun
If we are looking at history how far back are you willing to go?
cause before psychotic eugenicists and wars, we all had afros
And deep, deep down everyone knows we are all one

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Parri Richards

You can write stories like Anansi or Othello
Lead like Garvey or Selassie
Entertain and enlighten like Oprah or Angelou 
Make music like Beyonce or Big Narstie
Act like Octavia or Viola 
Denzel or Oyelowo 
Punch like Adams, Joshua or Buatsi
Score like Sterling or Aluko
Inspire like Obama, Abbott or Sir Learie
Fight like Doreen Lawrence or Olaudah Equiano
Or race like Hamilton or Linford Christie
Lets be done with the stereotypes of what it means to be black in Western society
And teach our kids the colour of your skin shouldn’t determine who you can and cannot be. Be black, be bold, and most of all be free.

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Coming soon

Umrana Afzal

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Nathan Geering - II

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Manoka Mbolokele

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Maral Svendsen

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Claire Beerjereaz

the pigment in my skin,
all that melanin,
it breeds a side of me, that is held down by society.
The darkness I emit is a brightness they resist.
See black is beautiful, and black is more than this.
The aura in the midnight sky would not radiate so bright.
And the patterns on a cheetahs skin would not be so bold and contrasting.
How would I see a forest in front of me,
if those seeds were not evolved in a dark place to be?
And how would the moon look down and guide me, if the sky remained bright and made my eyes blurry?

See darkness can be good and can give me time to rest.
I can calm my mind at night, and ground myself so I can be my best.
They tell me black is not a look,
but I can see so much through the universes book.
The planets and the unknown deep sea,
they tell me that I can thrive and be me,
because without that darkness those creatures could not live,
and in our eyes those planets, they would not exist.
And neither do I if I can’t be loved for the colour of my skin,
If my history can’t be acknowledged and it can’t be seen.

Darkness can be good, darkness can be positive.
Darkness is the contrast to light but isn’t worse or a negative.
It goes hand in hand with the brightness that exists,
They are complimentary and without the other, there would be no dynamics.

I want that for my skin, for my brothers and sisters,
For them and others to know that darkness isn’t a faulted conception
it just makes us glow,
in a different way but still the same,
equilibrium within the human race

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Gabby Ellison

Does her blackness blind you
As her skin shimmers in the sun
Glistening through the leaves, where berries can be found.

Strands of hair between worlds,
Queen of the colony she stands.
In space
She floats
Charging the universe
Let ink write her story in the night sky

Spray her face on walls
Let her be known
That she is beautiful.
That black is beautiful.

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Susan Goligher

Black is always beautiful

The beautiful darkness of her skin rich in melanin 

Soft and sweet against her offspring’s face.

She is mother to me and of the human race.

Held with the power of love 

Enshrined through her prophetic embrace,

Eternally entwined within those of her blood, 

An exquisite aesthetic enshrines the artistry 

Of her knowledge,

Of the past and history.

Our blackness is not always clear to see

So no-one has the right to make 

Judgement over me.

Her African blood courses through my heart, 

Imparting scared knowledge

And honourable legacies.

From the ancient kingdoms of Mali, Ghana and Benin 

Is where I get my melanin.

A rich cultural heritage,

Innovation and spirituality,

Have equipped all her people

And those across the sea,

‘though hidden in plain sight, 

Woven in rich fabrics and  hair   

That adorn our crowns and form, 

a powerful truth is revealed; 

That we descend from the high-born stool 

of her, from whom we’re born.

From the continent’s ancient kings and queens 

if we just stop and look within.

Mother Africa, Queen of Queens

Knows the power of the seed held inside, 

Contained within our melanin. 

She made us so that all will know that 

Black is always beautiful  

no matter where we live and grow.

Her single most precious gift of all 

Is the grace and power 

Of the melanin within our own skin.

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Blu Boy

Repaint The Picture

Look up at a night sky,
what colour do you see? Black,
which makes the stars shine brighter
than when the city light pollution
obscures the view!
In karate, a black belt is the highest rank
one can achieve!
So believe the black belt is a symbol
of mastery within oneself,
mind and body,
being a symbol of wisdom and expertise!
Black is the colour we wear
when mourning last time I checked,
so never forget,
that the colour black has been
and still is the colour of respect!
The black swallowtail caterpillar
goes into a chrysalis
for 10-14 days in that span of 1 to 2 weeks,
the caterpillar is surrounded by blackness,
helping it grow and blossom
into the butterfly that’s appreciated by society.
Blackness continues to be the caterpillar’s protection
and shield! A shield which gives the caterpillar to grow
Until the chrysalis slowly starts to split and the wings are revealed!
Black is the deepest trenches of the ocean,
something wonderful and full of mystery!
Black charcoal being used as face masks
gives the skin an ethereal glow,
Too hot for summer,
but thick black coats keep you warm in the winter tho!
Black is flavour mixed with elegance!
Like Dave said Black is beautiful black is excellence!

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Kel Nkondock

“Where are you from?”

“No, but where are you actually from?”

Why do you care?

And please, stop touching my hair.

What do you see when you look at me?

Why are you staring like this?

I know some people are just curious, others even want to learn,

But please let me insist, the colour of my skin is not your concern.

People still seem surprised when I talk about racial attacks in the 21st century,

day-to-day hypocrisy and discrimination,

as if it was even possible to erase more than 400 years of oppression.

I still hear people saying to my brother:

“You are a credit to your race”

“Oh yeah, you’re so articulate”

I am tired of hearing

“I believe the most qualified person should get the job”

“Indeed, everyone can succeed in society if they work hard enough”

“Gosh, your name is so hard to pronounce”, they whine

as we watch films full of faces that don’t look like mine.

I can’t wrap my head around the social construction of whiteness,

to me, it just doesn’t make sense,

and if you pay attention, you’ll realise

it doesn’t happen anywhere else.

Look at the kaleidoscopic birds,

all of them of different colours, tints and shades.

Eating the same food, breathing the same air;

Look at them. They don’t care.

These are just a few examples of micro-aggressions,

I could spend hours talking about the lack of diversity,

institutional racism and police repression.

When I turn on the news and see what’s happening,

almost as if we didn’t belong,

almost as if being black is a sin,

It just makes me wonder,

are humans the only race that can’t see beyond their skin

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Dayzy

Dark is the night sky
Shadow to the morning sun

There’s is no moonlight without the heavens sky
There’s is no star shine without atomic space
There is no ugliness in the rays of light
But Beauty that can only be shown in the dark night.
Black is hidden behind the light
But one cannot exist without the other
Yin yang ☯️
Now Read between the lines and you will find my peace

Black is everything.

Black elegance, excellence, opulence

Black is dark chocolate,
brown nuts, Moroccan coffee,
Black is beautiful …
The darker the berry the sweet the juice.

From the dark soil of our motherland where rays of a light beam
Our roots are watered and natured
We are in harmony

Different pigments and complications
Made up of different shades of skin
Created a unity of melanin
With a bond tighter than my 4c curls.

We unite
We live
We are human.

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Stephanie Robinson

Racism has always been a pandemic.
Tainting our perceptions of beauty’s natural image.
I straighten, weave, and wig.
I colour block my baby hair; to taint your vision of my damaged edges, making them look slick to the heavens. To cover up years of damage that have soothed my ego’s intentions for acceptance.
I am forever seeking new products to elevate my curls.
Scared of the backlash of humidity and shrinkage.
I am empowered by the coils and kinks that are my hair’s elasticity.
We shall support black-owned! Miss Jessies, Aunt Jackie’s, Soultanicals. Self-made; Madam C J Walker.
Black absorbing light.
Wearing our natural hair is a practice of acceptance. A celebration.
Changing narratives for the self to influence nations. Perceptive implications are processed and drilled in societal expectations.
Let’s make a change.
I am more than my hair. Black hair produces its own vitamins and oils.
My afro currency.
My braids are a signed treaty.
My headscarf, solidarity.
Big chop new reality.
Regrowth, repeat.
Don’t touch my hair. Afrocentric and proud.
Influenced by the motherland my Bantu knots refer you to my southern African heritage.
My yarn wrapped hair defies gravity.
I alert you to my presence as you smell my shea butter melt into the room.
We are a physical representation of community and strength.
Our hair is interchangeable, political, and powerful.
Racism has always been a pandemic!

L. Beech Ebony

Dark on the outside and black on the inside.
Internal darkness constantly evolving.
Entwined dreams, despair from the growth of an icon.
Overwhelmed by progress and predestination.
A desire to be touched with love and care.
With a need to be welcomed and protected.
But I am no damsel. I get no free rides.
I’ll stand my ground and be my own shining guide.
I’ll champion myself with my own fanfare.
The Black Knight of justice and integrity.
I know the secret lives of Kings and of Queens.
I stored it all, the truth never really leaves.
Keep cutting me down to control, mould and dull.
The lessons are old and yet still they won’t learn.
I am Ebony, enduring with lustre.
Desired by the rich but toxic when crushed

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Jubeda Khatun

Black is used propaganda politicised and weaponised to condition us to be afraid let’s move away from this narrative black Darkness is evil white and light is good and shift to purpose like night and day the way we think is costing human life Black Life

I travel back to the black safe walls of my mother’s womb

where I was nurtured in darkness all curled

In blackness we grow, transform there is comfort

As my creator put my soul in the black transition, I am an infinite being 

In the blackest of places we are reborn

They say the light is at the end of the tunnel

There’s light within black because light reflects light

We forget black absorbs and delivers you the light

Looking up against the black sky Stars shining so bright 

Black holy night almighty you come down our maker our source of light

Creativity is at its height

Blackness you shield our nakedness 

See and bare our weaknesses

Darker the berry sweeter the soul

Black skin all that gold melanin

In fashion black will never be out of fashion you see it has the ability to make you feel sexy slim slick outlines curves and bends always on trend

trend 

Mother earth bears beautiful fruit from the Blackest soil

Stop the noise of capitalist supremacy lets remind ourselves Black is ancestor the race of humanity

Black is beautiful, black is safe, black is protection, black is reflection, black is fertility womb and mother earth the soil, black is holy, Black Is growth Black Lives Matter Always did and will!

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Nathan Geering

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Kel Nkondock – Spanish

De dónde eres?

“¿De dónde eres?”

“No pero en serio, ¿de dónde?”

¿Y a ti qué mas te da?

Por qué me miras con tanto recelo?

Y por favor para de tocarme el peo.

Qué ves cuando me miras?

Acaso te molesta mi melanina?

Sé que algunas personas solo son curiosas,

otras incluso quieren ampliar su conocimiento,

y no se como hacerles ver que el color de mi piel no es objeto de su entretenimiento.

La gente se sorprende cuando hablo de ataques raciales en el siglo XXI,

De hipocresía y de discriminación.

Cómo si fuese posible borrar así como así más de 400 años de opresión.

Gente que dice:

“Pues eres guapa para tener una piel tan oscura”

Yo les miro pensando que probablemente no tengan cura.

“Hablas un español fetén”

No sé, Será porque yo he nacido aquí también.

“No soy racista, tengo varios amigos negros”,

Si empezamos así, mal iremos. Y no me valen debates, discusiones ni peros.

“Tu apellido es muy difícil de pronunciar”, de pequeña mis amigas me decían,

mientras veíamos una película en la que ninguna cara se parecía a la mía.

“La persona más cualificada debería quedarse con el puesto”

“Exacto, si trabajas lo suficiente tu también puedes tener éxito”

Como si todos empezásemos la carrera desde el mismo punto de partida,

Como si tú también hubieses sufrido el racismo en tu piel día a día.

A pesar de que sabemos que la raza es una construcción social

Aún tenemos que salir a las calles a pedir

Déjame respirar.

Por mucho que lo intento no le veo el sentido,

No existe en ninguna otra parte,

Da igual qué te hayan contado, o lo que tú te hayas creído.

Observa, por favor, los pájaros en la calle.

Cada uno con una forma, un color, un distinto detalle.

Volando por el mismo cielo, comiendo de la misma tierra.

Sin caer en distinciones y categorías que no valen la pena.

Sin creerse superiores por no ser negro, gay o mujer.

Igual de ellos también tenemos algo que aprender.

Esto son algunos ejemplos de lo que nos ha tocado aguantar,

pero podría pasarme horas hablando de falta de diversidad,

racismo institucional y represión policial.

Cuando veo en las noticias la violencia injustificada,

Como si tener la piel oscura significase no valer nada

Como si de verdad ser negro fuese estar a otro nivel,

No puedo evitar preguntarme,

Es el ser humano el único animal que no ve más allá de la piel?

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Viviana Aziaka

Black

Do you ever question the origin and nature of words?

Where do they come from? How do we come to associate them with the images we paint in our heads for them? I wonder.

So I dug through some dictionaries, looking for Black:

Some define it as a colour that lacks brightness and absorbs light without reflecting it, other definitions relate it to populations characterised by dark skin.
Is this it? It seems.

But then I dug deeper, and found even more:

Is black even a colour? Someone says no.

“In a technical sense, it’s a shade – and so is white… and nothing can be pure black or white,
except for the depths of a black hole or the most unfiltered of sunlights.”

Is it too crazy to think this could be applied in real life?
What if we learnt to unlearn what we know and apply new meaning and order to this world?

Something to think about before you form your next words.

More Power to You.

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Tia Jennings

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@fest_black@fest_black - 1 day

Music, poetry, performance and more! We're rounding off what's been a difficult year for everyone on a high note w…

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RT : A celebration of Liverpool's rich arts scene from ! Make sure to tune in from 7pm on Saturday 12 December: https:/…

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RT : Completely agree . This is why you should tell the British government not to send a charter plane to Jama…

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We're collaborating with and to bring creatives together for a big celebration of…

@fest_black@fest_black - 4 days

RT : We are so excited to share with you, our completed . A massive thank you to Addae Gaskin…

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RT : Art for social change with and x

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