The Information area to debate vital issues at The Downs Festival 2017


14 August 2017




The Downs Bristol has announced a line up of keynote speakers to address issues affecting UK society and thought-provoking panel discussions for its Information Area at the 2017 festival on 2nd September. 

Alongside a musical line up headlined by Elbow, a combination of on-stage talks and panel debates will take over The Information Stage, Venue and Tent, enabling ticket holders to engage with social and political debates, ideas and experiences. The speakers have been carefully selected from a range of backgrounds to reflect Bristol’s diverse cultural landscape and unorthodox nature.

Building on the success of the Information at last year’s inaugural event, 2017 sees the area expanding into three distinct parts.  The Information Stage for speakers and performers, the Information Venue for panel discussions and talks, and the Information Tent for charity and current affair exhibitors.

Rapper, poet and historian Akala will be headlining at The Information Stage. A supporter of Musicians Without Borders and an advocate of offering young people valid political choices, audiences will know his music as well as his moving TEDex and university talks. Suhaiymah Mazoor-Khan, a third generation British Pakistani woman and author of The Brown Hijabi blog will tackle topics such as politics, race, gender, feminism and Islam.

The creative minds behind satirical show The Revolution Will Be Televised, which poked fun at the political establishment will also take to the stage. Journalist, satirist, comedian and director Heydon Prowse and fellow writer and actor Jolyon Rubinstein won a Bafta for the show, which, among other stunts, saw them present the then Chancellor George Osborne with a GCSE maths text book. Spoken word artist Vanessa Kisuule addresses feminism through her poetry and will deal with topics such as attraction, social action and the influence of writers on their subjects.

Throughout the all-day festival on September 2nd, panel debates will air some of the burning issues of the day to inform and inspire discussion. Panelists will look at the future of the UK, how Brexit and austerity will affect the coming years and if we can shape a new, fairer society with this opportunity? Under the title of ‘The Future’s Yours; Design new systems for the world you want to inhabit’ a panel will look at how the landscape has changed since movements like Grime for Corbyn and how to motivate future youth politics. Another panel will look at how grassroots movements can inspire change and how much impact an individual and their votes can have.

Addressing Bristol’s growing homeless crises the Information Stage will invite the city’s homeless representatives, the volunteers who support them and the key staff who work alongside them to address solutions to the homeless issues in the UK and how people can get involved. Lastly a panel of music industry reps and musicians will debate the role that music and festivals can play for positive change in society despite being on the surface self-indulgent and consumptive events.

At last year’s Massive Attack concert on The Downs guest speakers Kate Tempest, Giles Duley and Hassan Akkad explored the subject of the refugee crisis. This year a broad range of topics will be discussed including austerity, homelessness, engaging young people in politics and how festivals impact on culture.

For more information and ticket details see the festival’s official website.

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