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UNITY Festival 2021

1 weekend, 26 free events, enjoyed by 1000+ people across 23 countries.

From Friday 5 to Sunday 7 March 2021 Skimstone Arts presented the intergenerational and international UNITY Festival 2021, a music and story festival celebrating community, nature and social action.

Bringing the outdoors indoor we invited festival goers to enjoy a weekend of FREE, online live music, stories and workshops. Those who headed to the 'Main Stage' were able to enjoy live performances from Skimstone Arts’ bands - Reality Boots, Skimstone Ensemble and special guests sound recordist and composer Chris Watson, Newcastle rapper Kay Greyson and British-Nigerian singer-songwriter Bumi Thomas. Music lovers were encouraged to pop into the 'Music Tent' to take part in a host of singing, songwriting, drumming and rapping workshops and anyone interested in relaxing and unwinding could head to the 'Chill Out Tent' and be immersed in shared stories, nature and fantasy. 

This community of festival-goers were encouraged to meet at the 'Festival Green' for lunch and to download a specially designed festival wristband to prove they were there. From festival first-timers to vegan burger veteran's this was an experience aimed at all ages not to be missed.

UNITY Festival 2021 began with a Festival Launch Party broadcast live via Skimstone Radio on Friday 5 March at 5pm which attracted 2,296 listeners. This was an opportunity for people to join presenters Claire Webster Saaremets and Kema Sikazwe to find out everything they'd need to know about the Festival and how to get involved.

On Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 March over 1,000 festival-goers joined our community to take part in a host of free events via Zoom. Saturday 6 March began with a talk from sound recordist and composer Chris Watson at 10.30am and closed with a special set from Newcastle rapper Key Greyson at 4pm. On Sunday 7 March at 4pm the Festival was brought to a close by British-Nigerian singer-songwriter Bumi Thomas.

UNITY Festival 2021 Feedback:

This was amazing, I learned a few things I never really thought about, thank you for this amazing experience Unity festival, I can’t wait to see what’s coming next!Festival Attender

"I would say that the ‘cherry on the cake’ it has been the UNITY Festival. I have been positively impressed from the brilliant team effort and great delivery of the event. I personally developed technological skills in getting trained for a more in-depth use of Zoom to be able to stewarding during the weekend of the festival. Also personal skills in being able to support the sessions online. This has been a completely new experience, especially engaging with people that I have never met before. It definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone." Annalisa Burratti - Project Coordinator

But I think as well it really felt like a festival, it felt like you were with people, it felt like you
were part of a community, which I think especially for those of us who have been in lockdown
for months it has been really important and really beneficial.
Bethany Elen Coyle, Associate Artist

We are all part of the same thing like this, a oneness binding us all together, it’s amazing. And
it’s so human, that’s the main thing that I take from this Festival, this human quality... I got contaminated by this love and sense of togetherness and oneness.
Martim Dinis, Associate Artist

The people who attended, some of them wouldn’t have attended an in person festival because of various reasons, but we were able to offer this. Sometimes people are isolated, and may not be able to move about or they have social anxiety, and this is an alternative we’ve made happen, and it’s really good.Nii Kwartey Owoo, Technical Manager

UNITY Festival 2021 was made possible with funding from Newcastle City Council, WellNewcastle Gateshead, Community Foundation Tyne & Wear, Arts Council England, Youth Music, Big Lottery Community Fund and Quaker Legacy Fund.

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