Organisers of an arts festival intended to champion the benefits of Brexit were today accused of hijacking the event to push ‘woke’ causes such as ‘gender fluidity in childhood’ and ‘how imperialism shaped the British garden’.
The taxpayer-funded £120million ‘Festival of Brexit’ celebrations were announced in 2018 by then-prime minister Theresa May, who promised a ‘year-long festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ – before they were transformed into ‘Unboxed’, an eight-month ‘celebration of creativity’ with a series of events across the UK.
Unboxed has so far seen 238,000 visitors, compared to the organisers’ initial ‘stretch target’ of 66million. Now, a 17-day programme of talks in Birmingham called ‘PoliNations’ will be held in an urban ‘super garden’ and feature discussions on subjects which include the ‘possibilities of decolonial practice within art and horticulture’.
Among those speaking will be drag queen Yshee Black, real name James Bartholomew, who will hold a Saturday morning ‘story time’ on September 17 billed as a ‘family friendly event that celebrates the imagination and play of the gender fluidity in childhood, while giving kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models’.
Those who enjoy the talk from 9.30am to 10.30am are then encouraged on the organisers’ website to attend an event called ‘Yshee’s Drag Party’ if they feel ‘inspired’ at 9pm that night, where Yshee will be ‘joined by a talented group of local creatives from the world of drag, dance and cabaret for a sequin covered night to remember’.
Before then, there is a talk tomorrow by organic food grower Claire Ratinon and artist Sam Ayr on ‘possibilities of decolonial practice within art and horticulture and how this might encourage wider change in society’.
Then this Saturday afternoon, there will be a lecture at 1pm on ‘decolonising the garden’ by Goldsmiths University art and ecology