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By expressing political ideas with beauty and emotion the arts can be the most profoundly transformative campaigning tools available to activists, trade unionists and political campaigners.

Liberating Arts 2017 built on the highly successful 2016 Art Of The Trade Unions day, and was an all-day programme of performances, cultural discussions, and workshops that allowed activists, trade unionists and campaigners to meet with theatre companies, cultural workers and creative activists from the UK and beyond, to share insights about the central role of culture in our collective struggle for a more equal and just world.

Tony Garnett’s Keynote Speech From Liberating Arts 2017


A great leap forward for combining art, culture, campaigning and struggle.” Paul J Mackney

It was an honour to be there… I’m looking forward to next year already!”  Wes Hinckes

A truly inspirational day… All of the sessions I attended were fascinating… ” Ian Quance

A fantastic day… Lets hope there can be many more events like this in the future… Reuben Irving

The opportunity to spend a whole day with trade unionists, campaigners and creative activists exploring a range of mediums and issues has given me renewed energy. We don’t get time as activists to look at what everyone else is doing and think about applying different approaches to getting the trade union/political message across.” Theresa Easton

It was a really great day, excellent theatre and inspiring speakers…” Yarrow Wolfe

I had a fantastic time at Liberating Arts. All of the workshops I attended were brilliant and I particularly liked the interactive components. Sometimes at left wing conferences, I begin to feel restless and start thinking this is all well and good, but I need to take some action.  In the Art not Oil workshop we actually did take to the streets and staged a performance opposing BPs sponsorship of the arts at the BP Portrait Award exhibition. I came away inspired, with new ideas that I will bring to my activism and artistic practice. Thank you!” Jill Eastland

Congratulations on organising such a successful event… Lots of interesting sessions and plenty of opportunity to engage with a wide variety of people.” Chris Guiton

Thoroughly enjoyed Liberating Arts… passionately heartfelt… I felt at home and not alone!” Claire Shilton

I am very much looking forward to the next Liberating Arts Festival.  I had a great time!  The events were most meaningful, and I met some great people.” Sharon Reives

Congratulations on putting together a great event; I really enjoyed being a part of it, and wished I could have seen more – everyone I spoke to said it had been very interesting and brilliant!” Rosy Carrick

Had a really positive experience at the Liberating Arts Festival and was much impressed by the quality of the presenters and also their dedication to their causes. It was certainly very inspirational!” Vanessa Garside

Congratulations on organising such a successful event on Saturday… Some fantastic speakers and performances… It was thought provoking and I found a lot of the themes being raised relevant to issues I am currently wresting with in my own art practice.  Paul Jones

It was a really useful experience to be able to present current visual artwork to a group of people who were eager to give feedback and response about both its content and context.  I enjoyed the conversations and the opportunity to meet people working in similar ways – who understand the need for and the to challenges to socially engaged artists at the moment.  I was given some gems of ideas to follow up and made some contacts with people who I hope to catch up with again further along the line.  Jude Hutchen

Liberating Arts was an inspirational day. I can’t think of the last time I attended seven events in 13 hours! I listened to poets, heard songs, sang along myself, heard inspiring talks, and learned about progressive theatre and arts practices from all around the world. I was profoundly moved by personal stories of struggle against injustice and oppression, and equally moved by the bravery within these stories too. I had conversations with artists I was meeting for the first time, and made connections to see their work in future. I heard about many important historical links between the trade unions and artists, and the artistic work of trade unionists themselves. I learned about community artists and progressive arts work in many different settings. One of the most powerful messages of the day was that we should remember the strong links that have existed over the decades between artists and trades unions – and this includes the ways in which union members have expressed themselves artistically, and how artists have benefitted from unionisation. This event represents a re-vitalising and reinvention of a longstanding connection. My thanks to the organisers for all their tireless hard work… It was a privilege to be present at this astonishing day. May there be more!” Clark Baim

We Are The Lions Mr Manager – Townsend Productions new show about Grunwicks
Rise Like Lions – Banner Theatre’s new show of songs, stories & satire from the frontline.
Attila The Stockbroker
Robb Johnson
Rosy Carrick on Mayakovsky

Belonging – an investigative feature documentary re-examining where power really lies in the UK.
The Flame Still Burns – The Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign/ Campaign for Press & Broadcasting Freedom
The Great Sit Down: Yesterday’s Witness in America. 1976 BBC 
documentary about
the 1936 Flint Michigan sit down strike.

Tony Garnett – Producer of Kes, Cathy Come Home & Up The Junction.
Kate Evans – Graphic artist and author of Red Rosa
Jude Hutchen – Presents her latest portfolio, ‘A Colour Chart for Killing’
John Smith – The UNESCO report on The Status Of The Artist
Dave Chapple – The politics of Jamaican Ska
Susan Croft – The unfinished histories of alternative theatre

Jamie Kelsey-Fry Media Workshop
Art Not Oil
Bristol Radical History Group

Radical Film & Animation
Theatre, Culture & The Labour Movement
Radical Arts Practice
The Art Of Trade Unions
Play As Resistance


Some photos of Liberating Arts by Bob Naylor.

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A pamphlet, no matter how good, is rarely read more than once, but a song is learned by heart and repeated over and over… If a person can put a few common sense facts into a song and dress them up in a cloak of humour, he will succeed in reaching a great number of workers.”

Joe Hill 1913