The LIFT Festival 2016 programme was officially launched on 8th February at an event at the Saatchi &Saatchi offices in Fitzrovia attended by press, patrons and supporters of the LIFT initiative. Maryam Philpott reports from the lively launch.
Started 35 years ago, this biennial event brings together a selection of international theatre, performances, art and culture to celebrate the diversity of London. This year’s festival will see around 30 events takeover well-known and unusual spaces across the city between 1 June and 2 July, with acts from 14 countries including Argentina, Canada and Japan on topics as diverse as war, pop culture and the refugee crisis.
LIFT Board member Richard Huntingdon officially opened proceedings, explaining that the purpose of the festival is to bring together the “amazing and the impossible”, so the LIFT team scour the world for interesting and meaningful contributors. Highlights from this year’s programme include Everything By My Side by Fernando Rubio which allows strangers to get into bed and hear ‘dreamlike’ stories told by seven women. The Barbican will host Isabelle Huppert in Krzystof Warlikowski’s radical interpretation of Phaedra(s), while the Royal Court hosts Minefield by Lola Arias, an exploration of the effects of the Falklands War 33 years later, considering the consequences of military engagement on individuals and servicemen from Argentina and Britain.
For those with more eclectic tastes, Australia brings us Depart a creepy circus-theatre performance set in Tower Hamlets Victorian Cemetery, while Japan sends Miss Revolutionary Idol BerseRker by Toco Nikaido which celebrates Japanese pop culture, promising stage swarming and ritualised dancing. As Artistic Director Mark Ball explained LIFT is all about a “sense of adventure” and more than ever the 2016 festival contains a raft of new works which are the “lifeblood” of the initiative. They may be riskier and harder to produce, he continues, but it is central to LIFT’s purpose in seeing London with “fresh eyes”, and understanding its diversity as a world-leading city of culture.
As Artistic Director Mark Ball explained, LIFT is all about a “sense of adventure” and more than ever the 2016 festival contains a raft of new works which are the “lifeblood” of the initiative. They may be riskier and harder to produce, he continues, but it is central to LIFT’s purpose in seeing London with “fresh eyes”, and understanding its diversity as a world-leading city of culture.
Giving something back to London is clearly of first importance to the LIFT team, and the event also announced asix-year project focused in Tottenham to help young people to develop careers in the arts and engage their community. This will include three international artist placements in London, working as mentors for school children and emerging performers, while children from local schools will act as “uplifters” during the festival, designing their own awards categories as well as creating the trophies themselves.
The LIFT Board Chair Bernard Donoghue concluded the speeches with emphasis on the importance of the festival in creating and promoting London’s cultural interdependence with the rest of the world, and in a time of political uncertainty, the value of European Union Funding under the Creative Europe Programme as well as the Arts Council UK to sustaining initiatives like LIFT. The arts, he concluded, do have an economic justification but “they create people and help them thrive” as well as prompting “intellectual awareness” of communities they could not otherwise have known.
Connecting to others then seems to be the common theme in the 2016 programme, to create empathy and understanding within our own city. So whether you want to learn about attitudes towards migration, see the first transgender choir or listen to the songs of Taylor Mac, the 2016 LIFT Festival has something for everyone. And it may just make us more aware of those around us.
LIFT 2016 runs from1 June – 2 July 2016. For more information visit www.liftfestival.com
Images:Maria Baranova and Cyclone