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Additional Freedom Square workshops for Slough and Leicester

Posted 19 February 14

Alinah Azadeh’s exciting design for Freedom Square has been an important installation feature as part of Night of FestivalsTouring in both Nottingham and Boston. In both locations large numbers of local participants, of all ages, have contributed to the installation by designing their own flags with images and words to share what freedom means to them.

ArtReach is delighted to share that additional funding support now means even more local participants can take part in building the installation when Night of Festivals Touring reaches Slough and subsequently Leicester. Workshops will take place in schools, community locations and libraries to maximize the range of local people engaging. The installation will also be extended to include other parts of the Night of Festivals site as well as the performance Dome.

We look forward to a rich and varied Freedom Square reflecting the participation of communities from four very different locations.

Ali Pretty commission to enhance Leicester event

Posted 12 February 14

ArtReach is delighted that the Joyce Carr Doughty Trust, through City Arts Nottingham, has committed to supporting a special additional ingredient as part of Night of Festivals Touring in Leicester.

Kinetika Artistic Director, Ali Pretty, renowned for her exceptional textile design as part of major events (including the Atlanta Olympics, the FIFA Club World Cup and the Paralympics London Closing Ceremony) will customize a 40 metre length of silk with special designs complementing the Night of Festivals theme.

Ali will work with local participants in Leicester to share her design and making skills and the team will together paint designs on the extended silk “canvas” during the first day of Night of Festivals on Saturday 16 August. It is hoped the finished design will be installed for a short period in Leicester and will then be available for other complementary events such as World Young Artists later in the year.

Mixin’ it up at Boston’s Night of Festivals – a poem by Lila Randall

Posted 11 November 13

Shake up routine. Speak through strings.

Staff opened sodden dome doors

To the Night of Festivals in

Central Park, Boston.


Suro Susso: a Gambian kora player

had the audience in awe as the

kora translated his stories of

Africa, love and expression.

The melody of the kora were his words.

Meanwhile his face seamlessly

glided from one exquisite expression

to another, as if detailing emotions

of stories told by the kora.


His friend joined, the stage now a

drumming frenzy. Two daughters

rolled eyes as daddy owned the aisle

with afro. Dreadz followed fingertips,

feet pushed back towards grass-roots,

movements from a homeland. They

swayed the flags above them;

commissioned bunting shouting

definitions of freedom.


Another audience member took his

turn. Unsynchronised – passionate

nonetheless, his shoulders shimmied

the length of an old lady sitting in the

front row. His fast jabbing encouraged

Suro, kids and adults, until it was time

for tea.


Shake up routine. Find va va voom.

“Around about eleven, my idea of

heaven is a nice cup of tea” sung

two puppeteers. Children joined in

with the adventure to find

Granny’s lost va va. Magic wands –

stars wrapped round sticks. Bright masks

and a bit of Spanish philosophy had kids

humming and clapping along.


Shake up routine. Scream out YEE.

From 16th Century Psalms

to modern folk, Cantus Polinicum,

a Polish choir, lulled the elder

generation deep into their seats,

only to be roused by a high-pitched

“yeee” that rounded off most songs.

Their set was completed with a sweet

rendition of ‘can’t help falling in love with

you’, at this point youngsters shyly

formed their own choir.


After a day of eclectic events it was time

for the yurt, heated by thirty bodies.

The floor and walls were painted by

tales of emperors and fools, the hour

only interrupted by a fat rain drop that

came in to listen and perch on an

un-welcoming head.


Shake up routine. Wear natural hair.

After a reception of wine and tapas

the charming Rachel Young cranked

open a controversial topic; stereotypes of

‘the strong black woman’. Demanding

emancipation from the word ‘strong’

and judgment on hair styles, she

emphasised femininity by repeatedly

buffing up her breasts then bottom.

Handmade afros were placed upon

heads and everyone punched fists in

a circular motion whilst stating

‘I’m a strooong woman’ – including

the men.


The festival ended with a rambunctious

finale, and a host that jested the

poetry and sounds of Tongue Fu would

start a fire in our hearts, soul – or groin.

Tongue Fu are three musicians who, upon

request of the poet, can combine musical

genres to create a new sound to suit the tone

of their guest performer. The poets ordered

columbo on foxtrot and suburban,

Quentin Tarrantino, even reggae and

dating websites. Wellies, fur hats and

hooped earrings were feelin’ it. With

involuntary noises the crowd salubriously

participated. Heads continually bobbed like

nodding dogs in a car window, cruising

along the beat.


Shake up routine. Try something new.

Great Carnival Workshops in Boston!

Posted 02 October 13

Over seventy members of the community are taking part in Night of Festivals in Boston this October (12th and 13th) with many working with the amazing Mandinga Arts, bringing additional new Animal Farm costumes and puppets as part of the vibrant carnival interventions taking place throughout the weekend. Paraiso Samba are also helping create a new local samba troupe who will perform at the Festival on Sunday afternoon.

Last weekend our participants were introduced to the costumes they will be wearing during the performances and took part in intensive animation workshops led by Mandinga. New recruits are joining us all the time and there is still time to take part. If you are interested in participating as a carnival performer, samba drummer or in helping create a new visual arts installation, then please contact: or

For the full programme of carnival interventions and events please see the programme for Boston and download the programme PDF.

Night of Festivals local viewpoint – It’s funny to see bottoms in the rain in Nottingham!

Posted 26 September 13
But with the glistening and bling from the samba dancers costumes, the rain wore a multi coloured mask. I arrived at Market Square in unison with the procession, a crowd was hastily drawn from beneath the arch ways of the Council House and nearby bars.
The dancers began a sequence of three steps, which were intermittently interrupted by outstretched arms and shimmying shoulders. Fingers curled to beckon the crowd. They tussled their chic head dresses which were made from colourful feathers; black, orange and turquoise, yellow and blue or pink and black. The King and Queen wore golden outfits with green details. The Queen held a flag and elegantly swayed as she sung along with the band, and the King jiggled his legs, causing the sequins to rattle in time with the drum. Looking around I noticed that it was the young men in the audience who were joining in, by frantically throwing their feet towards the wet ground and splashing their neighbours. The diversity of the ladies performing meant that everyone could engage. I have a penchant for eavesdropping and overheard a mother comment that it was refreshing to see a celebration of bodies, as opposed to our ‘cover yourself up’ attitude and dance moves which look more like a regime. A little girl next to me flailed her arms and legs as high as her cheek bones then shrieked and burst into hysterical laughter “look at those bikinis!!”. The male dancers donned head pieces with long red tufts symbolising a comb, these along with their raised chest, reminded me of a rooster taunting its hens. Their synergy as a group and flamboyant energy appeared to be received by the crowd somewhat like a field that turns golden for just a moment as a breeze clears an overcast sky.
When the Paraiso samba group proceeded to do another loop around the centre, I snuck into the story telling yurt. Small moroccan lanterns dangled from the roof, fairy lights surrounded and tribal paintings decorated the beams. I counted 18 people leaning back on floor cushions. The story tellers captivated the audience even above the carnival clamor. The first story was conceptual and abstract – yes she made this possible, with a main character named ‘Duck Egg’. The second story teller told of a golden arm, and kept everyone under suspense until the teller pounced towards the audience and made them recoil in fright. The third resembled greed and money, the mumbling commentary made it clear that we’ve all run into Mr Wonga before.
Free to thrive, free form, free to by myself. Bunting, revolutionary bunting, hung from the ceiling in the white dome. At 7.30pm Tongue Fu commenced and our host ‘Chris’ invited us to jump aboard the ‘Tongue Fu choo choo train’. The band are well known for their music and spoken word improvisational shows. The first poem was ‘let the pig out’ which translated to ‘let your inner creative out’. Strangely our sequence of clapping had to be a sloppy wet foot stamp, a clap, followed by whooping and hollering, which sounded ever so slightly like a pig at a trough – munching his way out. Members of the audience went home with CDs and books, and showed their appreciation by chatting with the artists at the end.  Friday was rounded up with an enchanting display in the square of a ‘musical bike’ playing Buena Vista Social Club, and being followed by ‘day of the dead’ ladies, who held umbrellas with striking red fairy lights.
An Acapella Trio from London performed on Saturday, and certainly added another dimension to the music. The group were inspired by a women’s rights festival and worked with four composers to create the music for their collection ‘Megaphones For The Unheard’. They had an eclectic audience, from young children and the elderly, to teenagers wearing backwards caps, who all sat in awe at their exploration of voices. When the Acapella Trio finished a gentleman told me he was going to stay for their next ’round’ as the tent had been quite empty for the previous. Having only heard about the event because he had been passing the square, he asked where he could find out more.
The edges of Market Square were filled with people watchers, and many spoke to the elderly gentleman out for a stroll with his Jack Russell and Owl. Romanian gypsy music with an accordion and MC made a fitting background to a smartly dressed lady riding a Nottingham City Council bike up and down for advertising. The quality and energy of the artists, including the loveable Mandinga street art skeleton, made most of the pubic stop whether it was to take a picture or watch for 2 hours. It also gave those that dared, to let the pig out.
By Lila Randall

Successful launch of Night of Festivals Touring

Posted 17 September 13

Night of Festivals Touring’s first stop was in Nottingham last weekend. We brought Old Market Square alive for two fun filled days of live performances, storytelling, moving image, visual art and carnival interventions. ACDarts kicked off the festival on the Friday morning with their energetic gumboot dancing workshops, where primary school pupils (and teachers too) from all around Nottingham had the opportunity to stomp and clap in their wellington boots along to the unique sound of the South African drums. The Festival site was filled with enthusiastic schools on the Friday where they had the chance to watch Sura Susso’s kora performance, Stephen Jon’s performance of Maid in Mariposa, listen to stories from the storytelling cafe in the Yurt and watch short films in the Nanoplex.


There were many highlights of the weekend, from the people of Nottingham dancing in the rain on the Friday night alongside Paraiso Samba to Sandeep Raval’s drum circle and performance in the City Arts Performance Dome on the Saturday. David Hindmarch’s ‘Beyond the Cities Calling’ sound installation complemented the textiles installation ‘Freedom Square’ that beautifully decorated the City Arts Performance Dome, created by artist Alinah Azadeh and participants from all around Nottingham.

ArtReach – now an Arts Award Supporter!

Posted 10 September 13

ArtReach work with and produce an exciting array of artistic & cultural events, festivals and initiatives. Like Night of Festivals Touring, many of these are free access and are suitable for people of all ages and from all backgrounds. We are committed to involving and engaging more people with cultural activity and passionately believe that doing so positively contributes to both home and public life. That is why we have become an Arts Award Supporter.

Through Arts Award children and young people aged 7-25 can explore any art forms including performing arts, visual arts, literature, media and event management. The award builds confidence, helps young people to enjoy cultural activities, and prepares them for further education or employment.

If you, or someone you know is embarking on an Arts Award programme, download this PDF to see how Night of Festivals Touring can contribute to your learning, and help you achieve your Arts Award goals!

Countdown to the weekend starts now!

Posted 09 September 13


With only just over a week to go until the big Night of Festivals event (13th/14th September), we thought we would take this opportunity to  talk about a few of the events we have happening in Old Market Square, Nottingham, next weekend and for you to let us know what you’re looking forward to seeing or ask us any questions about the programme.

Stephen Jon: Will be immersing the City Arts Dome with the heroic tale of The Maid of Mariposa on Friday 13th. Inspired by the arts of Latin America this installation theatre piece will encompass live action and shadow puppetry to enact the tale of our heroine’s adventures against monsters on land and sea! Suitable for all ages.

Ery Nazaramba: ArtReach’s Nanoplex will be screening Ery’s moving image piece Dambudzo across the weekend. The piece shows Ery re enacting the speech made by Dambudzo Marechera at The Guardian Fiction Award November 1979. This engaging piece shows what happens when you don’t follow the script…

Rhythms of the City: Authentic carnival samba band Rhythms of the City will be playing a key role in the carnival interventions happening throughout both days at Night of Festivals. Rhythms will be accompanying Mandinga Arts, performing as the roving “musicians on wheels”!


Posted 23 August 13

Artist Alinah Azadeh, has been specially commissioned for Night of Festivals Touring to create ‘Freedom Square’.

The ‘Freedom Square’ installation will comprise up to 1,200 multi-coloured fabric squares which the artist will be inviting participants to design and create in response to the Festival theme.

Tell us:

Who or what would you like to set free? A person, a nation, an aspect of yourself?

What image, shape or symbol comes to mind when you think about freedom, or being free?

Post your responses for the artist to interpret in Freedom Square at

Facebook ArtreachEvents or email

For further information on Night of Festivals Touring and the opportunity to participate in one of Alinah’s free Freedom Square workshops visit:

Participate in one of our artist led FREE workshops. Nottingham dates confirmed (others to follow). Simply sign up with

Saturday 7th September


Workshop One:  10.15 to 11.45

Workshop Two:  12.00 to 1.30 Families – drop-in sessions 12.00 & 12.45 (ages 5 up).

Workshop Three: 4.00 to 5.30

Sunday 8th September

CITY ARTS (10.30AM to 2.30PM)

Provident Works, Newdigate Street, NG7 4FD

Workshop One:  10.30 to 12.00

Workshop Two:  1.00 to 2.30


Visit Night of Festivals at one of the tour dates and experience Freedom Square for yourself:

  • Nottingham, Old Market Square, Fri/Sat, 13/14 September 2013
  • Boston, Lincolnshire  Sat/Sun, 12/13 October 2013
  • Slough , Town Square and High St ,Fri/Sat 30/31May 2014
  • Leicester, Sat/Sun, 16/17 August 2014

Get Involved with Night of Festivals Textiles Workshops

Posted 13 August 13


Artist Alinah Azadeh  has been specially commissioned for Night of Festivals Touring to create her project – Freedom Square.

Freedom Square will comprise up to 1,200 multi-coloured flags, which the artist is inviting participants to customise by using simple printing / stencilling and drawing techniques.

We want you to join the artist-led workshops happening across Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th September in Nottingham and help create this stunning artwork! The workshops are FREE and suitable for all ages! Simply choose a session from the list below. Places limited. Sign up by emailing: with your name and preferred slot.


Come and develop bold graffiti designs and slogans using block printing and creative writing.
Create your very own series of Freedom Squares, which will hang among the 1,200 others as part of this new work at Night of Festivals Touring.


Saturday 7th September

Workshop One: 10.15 to 11.45
Workshop Two: 12.00 to 1.30 Families – drop-in sessions 12.00 & 12.45 (ages 5 up).
Workshop Three: 4.00 to 5.30

Sunday 8th September
CITY ARTS (10.30AM to 2.30PM)

Workshop One: 10.30 to 12.00
Workshop Two: 1.00 to 2.30

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