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DIASPORA! 2024 – Programme launch

  • First of a kind festival for Bristol and the South West, 3-6 May 2024
  • Comprehensive programme now available
  • One Bank Holiday weekend. Almost 40 venues. Over 70 events. Nearly 200 artists.
  • Backed by West of England Mayoral Combined Authority; Arts Council England; Quartet Community Foundation and Bristol City Centre Business Improvement District

Arts & Culture champions Diverse Artists Network (DAN) are excited to present a first-of-its-kind in the South West festival, called DIASPORA!

With the bulk of events taking place across the Early May Bank Holiday weekend (3-6 May) DIASPORA! will be an extensive celebration of cultural diversity through art in all its various forms, for everyone to enjoy.

The festival team has been working tirelessly for some months to secure venues, collaborations and artists, and can now announce the extensive programme of events – available to view digitally via the website and other online channels.

Click here to find out more about the programme

Alongside the dynamic digital programme is a listings version being printed and inserted in the next issue of Vocalise – the Bristol magazine which specialises in grassroots arts, culture, community support and wellbeing – out from 22 April.

With a focus on community engagement, DIASPORA! will platform artists from predominantly underrepresented diasporas who will perform, exhibit, screen, hold classes and talks on music, visual arts, film, theatre, poetry, dance, storytelling, crafts and so much more.

Iconic venues all around Bristol and beyond are involved – including Bristol Old Vic, Museum of Bath at Work, Bristol Cathedral, Bristol Ferries, Tobacco Factory, The Greenway Centre, The Watershed, RWA, The Plough Inn, The Canteen and ACTA Community Theatre. Some venues have programmed DIASPORA! themed shows into their schedules, others have provided space for the DIASPORA! team to fill.

The abundantly diverse programme includes a fireside opening ceremony on Friday 3 May, at Trinity Centre, to celebrate Bristol’s many cultural communities and their various traditions related to fire. Expect dance, music, poetry, folklore, cross-cultural connections and delicious food from the Jamaican Hideaway.

Trinity Centre will also host Alkebulan – African Storytelling Village. An epic day of all kinds of events from Africa’s many diasporas, from storytelling to dancing, hair wrapping to face painting, singing, DJs and, of course, food.

On an international level, Bristol Beacon has programmed Orchestra Baobab, a legendary nine-piece group from Senegal celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2024; and Orchestral Qawwali Project, a one-of-a-kind ensemble who breathe new life into centuries-old traditions through a soul-soothing blend of Sufi, choral and Indian classical music.

Orchestral Qawwali Project will go on to perform at the Royal Albert Hall towards the end of May so it’s an extra special treat for us in the South West to see them on our doorstep!

The DIASPORA! festival founders have compelling credentials underpinning their skills and experience in the delivery of this programme.

Vandna Mehta, Creative Director and Co-founder of DAN is also the founder of Vocalise magazine. She leads the charge in diversifying the sector through her proactive engagement efforts and holds the role of Community Engagement Officer for the Bristol Refugee Festival.

Ruth Pitter MBE is an artist and community activist, who fosters creativity as a vehicle for exploring, expressing, enhancing and celebrating who we are as individuals.

An experienced performer, she’s co-founder of Breathing Fire Play Back Theatre Company and Black Women Let Loose Theatre Company CIC.

Deasy Bamford, Co-founder of DAN, has a wealth of experience in the Arts sector and has nurtured the talents of many artists. She has provided and maintained a crucial bridge between artists and venues, festivals, organisations and educational institutions. She founded the Bristol Refugee Festival, Imayla CIC, and co-founded the Tribe of Doris festival, which ran for 30 years. Not one to rest on her laurels she is currently in the process of founding a new organisation in Cornwall dedicated to championing diverse artists.

DIASPORA! evolved as an idea in response to Ruth’s observation and comments on artists of diasporic backgrounds being overlooked in mainstream spaces and organisations. Building on over six years of DAN’s artistic community development, DIASPORA! seeks to better reflect the cultural diversity and amazingly rich talent across the region.

As Vandna says; “DIASPORA! is a natural progression of all the work we have done at DAN to create more and lasting connections between artists, venues and communities of culture. With our diligent and dedicated festival team, we really hope to make a difference for the region, to build something special, representative and fun for all.”

Deasy and Vandna presented the festival concept to national, regional and local  authorities who recognised the potential, distinctiveness and significance of their proposals.

The West of England Mayoral Combined Authority was first to support and has maintained close contact with the team. The authority is pleased with the progress, affirming, “The Diverse Artists Network is making a real impact diversifying the arts across the South West, pioneering ways to improve access to the creative and cultural industries with their amazing new DIASPORA! Festival that will run from 3rd to 6th May. The West of England Mayoral Combined Authority is thrilled to be supporting this organisation.”

As Deasy says, “With over 70 events, many free to attend, we think we can pretty much guarantee there will be something for everyone across the weekend. Young and old, from every community are invited to come and experience and enjoy all that DIASPORA! has to offer.”

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