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West Midlands Culture Response Unit (WMCRU) has announced a free one-day festival celebrating arts & culture in the West Midlands.
Midsummer Festival on Saturday 20 June will bring together many of the region's arts institutions to celebrate Summer Solstice via a range of live, archived and pre-recorded cultural activities.
Some performances - from companies including the RSC, ACE Dance & Music and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group - will never have been seen before.
The festival is the first event organised by WMCRU - a group created to co-ordinate, develop and deliver an action-orientated response to the Covid-19 crisis in the short, medium and long term.
Led by Cultural Central, WMRCU has brought together more than 100 arts organisations across the region with the aim of ensuring the visability, viability and recovery of the Cultural Sector in the West Midlands.
Inspired by annual Midsummer celebrations, the one-day festival will feature work influenced by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and will also respond more generally to nature with open-air events in a wide variety of settings across the region. A live performance of short excerpts at Warwickshire's Compton Verney, which was the setting for the 1968 film adaptation of Dream starring Dames Judi Dench and Helen Mirren, is just one of the performances that will be streamed throughout the day.
Other performances include: Wild, a daring dance-circus production from Motionhouse; a series of rural recordings from Pentabus Theatre, including Here I Belong by Matt Hartley and Crossings by Deirdre Kinahan; and Rosie Kay’s City - Breath - Water, a poem of dance responding to the beauty and harshness of the city of Birmingham.
Award-winning dance & music ensemble Sonia Sabri Company will showcase some of their highlights, with Sonia and fellow artistic & music director Sarvar Sabri also taking part in a live conversation.
Ex Cathedra will present a selection of seasonal music, from a birdsong-inspired commission to numerous summer favourites, inviting festival-goers to don their best holiday wear and sing along at home as they take a musical Summer Holiday 'somewhere beyond the sea'.Designers from the Royal Shakespeare Company will run a workshop on how to create your own fairy bower at home, inspired by the wonderous woodland bed of Dream's Titania, queen of the fairies.
The day will draw to a close with the Midsummer Vogue Closing Party, hosted by DanceXchange vogue tutor Jason Andrew Guest. Jason will inspire audiences to strike a pose in a 15-minute tutorial followed by a 30-minute DJ set and dance party.
As well as the Summer Solstice, the festival programme will also take inspiration from Refugee Week (15 - 21 June), with Midsummer Festival taking place on World Refugee Day.
Refugee Week is the UK’s largest festival celebrating the contribution of refugees and promoting understanding of why people seek sanctuary.
Highlights include an Ace Dance & Music tribute to Ira Aldridge, celebrating his life and achievements as an African-American actor in the UK.
Ikon Gallery and Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham will present Soapbox - 20 quickfire, home-produced soapbox videos based on the week’s theme of Imagine - and digital film screenings of refugee stories from Birmingham Opera Company.
The director of Culture Central, Erica Love, said: “The WMCRU believes that as a region we should respond to this unprecedented threat in a typically generous, loud and collaborative manner, which is exactly the spirit of Midsummer Festival."
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Arts & culture organisations are at the heart of our communities throughout the West Midlands, with the tourism, hospitality & cultural sector supporting more than 135,000 jobs in the region and contributing around £12.6billion a year to the local economy.
“At such a critical time for the sector, it’s more important than ever that we proudly come together to show what our region has to offer, and the Midsummer Festival will do exactly that.”
Midsummer Festival will take place on Saturday 20 June and can be accessed via: makeitwm.com
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