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UNITY Festival 2021

Skimstone Arts presents the intergenerational and international Unity Festival A Music & Story Festival Celebrating Community, Nature and Social Action Friday 5 March 2021, Launch Event at 5pm Saturday 6 & Sunday 7 March 2021, Events from 10am to 5pm We're inviting festival lovers to join us for UNITY Festival, a weekend of free, online live music, stories and workshops celebrating community, nature and social action which will take place from Friday 5 to Sunday 7 March. This Festival is an opportunity for people of all ages to come together to form an online community and experience all that a good festival has to offer. Music fans are being invited to head to the Main Stage where they’ll be able to enjoy live performances from Skimstone Arts' bands and special guests including Newcastle rapper Kay Greyson who will be headlining the Main Stage on Saturday night with her fuse of modern hip-hop. British-Nigerian jazz-folk-soul singer-songwriter and guitarist Bumi Thomas will be headlining the Main Stage performing songs from her EP Broken Silence live to close the Festival on Sunday night. If you pop into the Music Tent you will be able to have a go at everything from family friendly rhythm workshops with David Stickman Higgins and a special songwriting workshop with Skimstone Arts’ musicians Liz Corney and Quinn Green to learning the art of African dance technique with Nii Kwarty Owoo. There’s even the opportunity to work with rapper Kema Sikazwe and aspiring young performed Daniel to get a taste for freestyle rap or to join in a live virtual sing-a- long with the brilliant Bethany Elen Coyle. Visitors interested in simply relaxing and unwinding can head to the Chill Out Tent and be immersed in shared stories, nature and fantasy. The Festival begins on Saturday and Sunday with the chance to join Martim Dinis, founder of Portugal’s Madam Teatro, for a relaxing and mindful workshop to warm-up in readiness for the days activities. Participants can then join actor Samuel Lamptey and script writer Nii Kwartelai live from Ghana to help create a new story inspired by Black Star a specially commissioned story about what it means to be a star, a black star of any age that can change the world.

The beauty of nature will be brought to life by Skimstone Arts’ Artistic Director Claire Webster Saaremets in Footsteps in the Forest a guided fantasy where people will be encouraged to use their imaginations to go on a journey through an old forest. Environmental activist Azra Tanović, co- founder of Rootically a revolutionary approach to urban gardening, will be talking about the importance of how urbanisation should include nature and there’s even the chance for food-lovers to grab some simple ingredients and celebrate the importance of making and sharing food with Peter Saaremets and Byker resident Penny. Budding animators are being invited to grab an object that’s important to them and join Sheryl Jenkins to learn how to use animation apps to make an animated GIF. Anyone interested in listening to a story can join Magpie in Magpie’s Corner and be taken on a journey of imaginative mythology, or there’s the chance to join musician Kema Sikazwe and Byker residents as they talk about where inspiration can take you in songwriting. This jam-packed weekend of free, fun and engaging events will begin with a live radio broadcast via Skimstone Radio on Friday 5 March at 5pm. Presented by Claire Webster Saaremets and Kema Sikazwe this will be a chance to find out everything you need to know about the Festival and how to get involved. As Claire Webster Saaremets, Artistic Director of Skimstone Arts explains: “We hope that this Festival provides a sense of community and togetherness that has been sorely missed during the last 12 months. With opportunities to take part in Open Mic sessions, the chance to join us for lunch and listen to a podcast on the Festival Green or, for anyone who doesn’t have access to the internet, there’s also the opportunity to give us a ring at lunchtime to hear a song, poem or story shared live. UNITY Festival is the culmination of a three year Reaching Out programme which has seen Skimstone Arts engage with people of all ages across Newcastle and the North East to create original music, film and photography with regional and international artists that has been celebrated at festival events and more recently on our very own internet radio. This Festival marks not only the end of this exciting programme of activity but celebrates the new adventures we have planned for the future as we continue to support local, international and diverse artists and those at risk of isolation, to create work with, for and about the world that matters to them. So what are you waiting for? Come and join our community!” UNITY Festival launches on Friday 5 March at 5pm with events taking place from 10am to 5pm on Saturday 6 March and Sunday 7 March. For more information about UNITY Festival and how to get involved visit www.skimstone.org.uk/unity-festival-2021 UNITY Festival has been made possible with funding from Newcastle Culture Investment Fund, Arts Council England, Youth Music, WellNewcastle Gateshead, Big Lottery Community Fund and the Quaker Legacy Fund.

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