Don’t snark – this ‘Brexit festival’ may turn out to be just the tonic we need | Gaby Hinsliff
I’d rather chew my arm off than celebrate leaving the EU. But this event may help us retell our national story, says Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff
Nor do his plans, as I’d vaguely imagined, involve constructing some great glass palace in which to house sacred relics such as the towering pile of ring binders Michel Barnier brought to Brexit negotiations, while David Davis rocked up without so much as a dog-eared sheet of paper. Instead, the
initial shortlist of creative teamspublished this month suggests something a bit like Hull’s efforts but on a much bigger scale; mixing up the arts, science, tech and culture into a wild melee of creative grassroots projects popping up all over the country, aimed at creating feelgood moments and unexpectedly illuminating collaborations.
When asked what he’s aiming for, Green used to cite the filmmakerSteve McQueen’s recent displayat Tate Britain of primary school photographs from across London, an unexpectedly touching snapshot of a diverse city. Now his shortlisted hopefuls range from dance troupes and performance poets to an NHS project uncovering the reasons for poor health outcomes among deprived children in Bradford and a black activists’ collective from Staffordshire. One never knows, but I’d be frankly amazed if most had voted to leave. headtopics.com
If it all sounds vaguely reminiscent of the London 2012Olympics opening ceremony, which ended up somehow juggling thrilling hymns to the steel industry and to NHS nurses alongside Chelsea pensioners and the Spice Girls, that’s not a coincidence. Green was also head of ceremonies on that gig, and while this one lacks the budget and the big names, the idea that there are as many different ways of telling the British national story as there are individual Britons lives on. (If anything, since the arts and those working in them tend to skew liberal, it’s harder for artistic celebrations of Britishness
notto end up following suit.) We’ll see how well all this survives contact with leavers in government, of course. But the culture secretary Oliver Dowden, a rare surviving remainer in the current regime, has wisely so far allowed the project to slip through political hands into the control of some rather more interesting characters.
Is it going to heal all the wounds of the past four years? Don’t be ridiculous; they are artists, not miracle workers. No festival could by itself reconcile impassioned remainers to this cataclysmic rupture, or uber-Brexiters to the fact that the deal won’t be what they wanted (it never, ever is), or a nation to the loss of jobs and prospects. Only politicians can do those things, and the politician equal to that task is not yet in Downing Street; perhaps not even on the Westminster horizon.
But the last few years have been tough enough as it is, without heaping scorn on the efforts of well-intentioned people to dig through the rubble and find some grounds for hope. My hunch is that as a nation we’re going to be rubbishing the festival right up until the day it opens, and will then surprise ourselves by grudgingly quite enjoying it. If only the same could be said for Brexit. headtopics.com
• Gaby Hinsliff is a Guardian columnist Read more: The Guardian »
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Tell you what. Hold the festival in Sunderland on the grounds of Nissan. Might as well celebrate the loss of jobs Brexit BrexitShambles Seeing as 57% of the UK (according to all latest polls) do not want Brexit, spending this amount of money is not just immoral at a time when Covid-19 has ravaged the financial lives of many, but also unwanted. gabyhinsliff
I am going to snark as much as I can, I want nothing to do with anyone who even considers celebrating Little England. I want my EU citizenship back! No thanks. But gabyhinsliff please do get in touch if you'd like to chat about our work, why this festival is a nationalistic wet dream that we cannot afford, and why we need to say NO to propaganda and YES to an equitable recovery of the arts sector:
“Is it going to heal all the wounds of the past four years?”...... about as much as being “cheered-up” by your burglars sending somebody round to dance on your lawn. Not a good article. Nah. Hmmm Are they going to have nurses dancing with parking meters? Or old folks from care homes dancing with coffins or Tory Chums dressed as gammons dancing with bags of money or Bullies slapping people about or I know lorry drivers dancing with Portaloos. It’s going to be great.
Don’t think so. It's really not Guardian, snark...same thing🤷♂️ It will be the Festival of Europe. Brexit Yes, the tonic we need is a massive rise in coronavirus deaths in celebration of financially shooting ourselves in the foot and demonstrating we are determined to be a very small, bigoted island. I have 2 degrees in history, I don’t want to be given a fake propaganda version of our ‘national story’.
nothing to celebrate here. move along Nigel farage front and centre stage speaking in tongues to a gammon and karen fest. Hahaha. Well balanced article, although separating this from Brexit will be difficult. If no-one from the remain side supports this, it'll turn into the gammonfest we all fear. Try not condemning everything.
It's certainly going to be cancelled through Covid Why would any reasonable person want anything to do with that shite. Must be joking. Utter waste of money Worst idea since... Brexit. The difference between the opening ceremony for the Olympics and the Festival of Brexit is that one was celebrating global sporting endeavour and the other one is trying to distract us from the fact that we are about to jump off a cliff into an economic abyss.
Tonic?! Not a chance will a Brexit ‘festival’ be anything other than a flashpoint for furious people as the stupid project wrecks lives & livelihoods whilst stripping rights & freedoms from 67 million people. Stupid article about a stupid project. BrexitReality It is just another excuse for Farage and the leavers to have a piss up.... as if he or they needed one in the first place.
No thanks, they can ram their Brexshit up thier ass theSNP get us out of this corrupt union asap. indyref2 *secretly snarking*😎😆😱... Ffs I mean really 🤷🏼♂️🤷🏼♂️🤷🏼♂️ What on earth could you possibly find to celebrate after 10 years of austerity inflicted on the poor and working class, culminating in an absolute shameful, negligent, corrupt and fatal mishandling of the covid pandemic, with the brexit shambles imminent.
I will not celebrate being enslaved by fascists See also: Total and utter bollocks!👺 Why have you used the Hull City of culture picture in this article? What's the relevance? gabyhinsliff ignoring the elephant in the room: Britain is not a nation, it's a multi-nation state. That one simple realisation by the government in England and the UK would be in a much stronger place. This sounds like an English imperial festival.
Bread and circuses, but without the bread BrexitReality Very strong “I didn’t read the article” vibes in the comments on this one. I can see what the author is trying to get at and I’m sure whatever is produced would be great but it misses the wider point which is that a great deal of the country will have no reason to celebrate Brexit. Still, it’s an opinion I guess.
We cannot let brexit become some kind of warped post-Covid tonic. There is nothing to celebrate here. Spend millions to celebrate getting poorer and more isolated Woo hoo! Bread and circuses - a tried and true act to distract the public from real issues. Leaders who are leading badly tend to pull these kinds of stunts. Brexit is going to be super painful and this is just an aspirin.
Gammon Gala No, because it be will just Spitfires, Nelson and Victoria. Gammonfest doesn't represent anything about the Britain I love. No I will prefer to snark. A parade of Union Jack waving Gammon chopped individuals is nothing to cheer. Shame Brits can't have their wild party at the preferred place, Budapest.
Patel and Farage will be running the 'hook an immigrant' stall Sorry but this is dumb I first read 'tonic' as 'toxic'.... Checks out. 👍 Christ a United Ireland can’t come quick enough It’ll be very late and wildly over budget. No it won’t Rather just have a tonic with a gin in it tbh, then forget about he whole sorry affair! Brexit
UK capitalist media join in xenophobic cheering horrible