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UNITY Festival 2022 is here!


Skimstone Arts presents UNITY Festival 2022 
A FREE family festival of music & arts celebrating community, nature and social action
 Friday 4 March 2022, 5pm - Launch Event, Brinkburn Street Brewery
 Saturday 5 March, 10am to 6pm - Brinkburn Street Brewery & St Silas’ Church, Byker
 Sunday 6 March, 10am to 6pm - Brinkburn Street Brewery & Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books

We'd like to invite you to join us for UNITY Festival 2022 a free family festival of music and arts celebrating community, nature and social action. Taking place in and around the beautiful surroundings of Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley, Byker and Ballast Hills Park families will be able to take part in over 30 free events from Friday 4 to Sunday 6 March.


On Friday 4 March at 5pm visitors will be able to join our Artistic Director Claire Webster Saaremets and media presenter Steve Drayton at Brinkburn Street Brewery, Bar & Kitchen in Newcastle's Ouseburn Valley to find out everything you’ll need to know about the Festival and how to get involved. This event will also be broadcast live via Skimstone Arts’ internet radio station Skimstone Radio which can be accessed by visiting our website.


Brinkburn Street Brewery, Bar & Kitchen will host the Main Stage for UNITY Festival 2022 on both Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 March from 10am to 6pm with additional events taking place at St Silas’ Church in Byker on Saturday 5 March and at Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Book on Sunday 6 March from 10.45am to 4pm.


As Skimstone Arts’ Artistic Director Claire Webster Saaremets explains:


“We're so excited to welcome people of all ages and walks of life to this year's UNITY Festival where we can come together and take part in a jam-packed programme of free events. From playful percussion, joyful African dance workshops, a pop-up choir and world class music to recycling plant pots, printing festival flags, making origami butterflies, a special film screening and a Youth Music Showcase, there's something for everyone and a chance to make a difference to the world.”


On Saturday 5 March and Sunday 6 March at Brinkburn Sweet Brewery festival-goers will be able to begin the day in style with a gentle and playful body and senses warm up with movement director Martim Dinis at 10.10am. The energetic David ‘Stickman’ Higgins will be inviting families on a rhythm adventure at 11am before UK based Ghanian musician and choreographer Nii Kwarty Owoo will be encouraging people to feel alive and dance with their soul in a joyful exploration into African dance techniques at 1.30pm.


There’ll also be a chance to listen to new music by young aspiring bands from across the North East as Skimstone Arts’ band Reality Boots, Sanding Up-Right from North Tyneside and Jack Drum Arts from County Durham share new songs inspired by climate change and humanity in a Youth Music Showcase at 2.45pm.


On Saturday 5 March at 10.45am visitors to St Silas’ Church in Byker will also be able to explore the joy of singing in a unique pop-up choir and share new songs celebrating community, nature and social action created especially for UNITY Festival with community musician Bethany Elen Coyle. Anyone wanting to get hands on will be able to join North East Wilds and learn how to turn waste-wood into beautiful plant pots at 1.30pm or make a specially printed flag with printmaker Catherine Hodson to celebrate UNITY Festival and pledge an action for a better world at 2.45pm.


Headlining the Festival at Brinkburn Street Brewery on Saturday 5 March at 4.15pm will be international Kurdish composer Rzgar Hama Rauf as he shares new music featuring traditional instruments and human voice specially composed for UNITY Festival 2022 live from Kurdistan, Iraq. Audiences will then be able to watch TV presenter, author and President of the RSPB Miranda Krestovnikoff as she shares stories and experiences about her work with the RSPB, nature and the environment as she joins the Festival live from Bristol at 5pm.


On Sunday 6 March at Brinkburn Street Brewery the fun will continue with a chance to drop in and join Will Benson from Children’s Charity Kids Kabin and have a go at making a clay pot between 10.45am and 2.45pm. Anyone 10 years old and over interested in finding out more about different ways to write a song are being invited to join Skimstone Arts’ Lead Musician Peter Saaremets and Music Leader Susie Jones alongside members from Skimstone Arts’ young band Reality Boots and members of Standing Up-Right at 2.45pm. At 3.30pm film fans will be able to see the World Premiere of a new film short Boxed In which recognises humanity beyond the warehouse world created by John-Paul Goossens and Phillip Melody, supported by videographer Shaho Omar.


On Sunday 6 March at Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books families will be able to get their face painted like their favourite animal with Monica Wilson or get their hands decorated with Henna art which promotes luck and happiness with artist Gurbax between 11am and 4pm. There will also be the chance to make a nest “on the wing” using spell-poems from Lost Spells, a pocket sized treasure from Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris, with one of Seven Stories Storycatchers. Printmaker Catherine Hodson will also be heading to Seven Stories to help families create their very own UNITY Festival flag at 1.45pm and 2.45pm.


Headlining the Festival on Sunday 6 March at 4pm will be Frida and Ivy, two of Newcastle’s most popular drag queens, as they take to the stage with an inspiring and hilarious performance exploring who inspired them to become superheroes today courses of Drag Castle. Bringing UNITY Festival to a close at 5.30pm is Asasaa Ensemble with an electrifying performance of music, infused with global and afrocentric sounds, vibrant rhythms and infectious joy.


And if that’s not enough throughout the weekend there will also be the a chance to see a new photography exhibition Change of Life in the yurt at Brinkburn Street Brewery. Created by Byker residents the exhibition captures places that are special to them on a Byker to Ouseburn trail, that show dreams beyond our everyday lives, working with photographer Ako Ismail.


For more information about UNITY Festival 2022, which will take place from Friday 5 to Sunday 6 March 2022, and to download the full programme of events visit https://www.skimstone.org.uk/unity-festival-2022


UNITY Festival 2022 has been made possible with public funding from Arts Council England as well as funding from Youth Music, Community Foundation Tyne & Wear, Garfield Weston Charitable Foundation, Big Lottery Community Fund, Well Newcastle Gateshead and Newcastle City Council.

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