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Lynn Simmonds – ArtReach (UK) – Partner Interview

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Author Jo Mcleish - The Media Room

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LIBERTY EU builds on many successful collaborative European projects that have been delivered by some of the partners involved in the programme. It has also been a fantastic opportunity to forge new links to organisations that feel passionate about the work that LIBERTY EU aims to present.

LIBERTY EU’s strength is its creative and innovative network of cultural and youth organisations, and the passion this network has to explore opportunities for, and to commission artists from many artistic disciplines and backgrounds.

LIBERTY EU is a 3-year programme of work, and whilst we have had to explore commissioning work for online platforms due to Covid-19, we are still confident that we can fulfil the outcomes of the programme – one of which is artists physically connecting and collaborating across borders and performing to live audience in public spaces…something we are all missing at the moment!

What is its focus?

LIBERTY EU is about giving voice to young people – young artists in particular. LIBERTY EU’s programme wants to give young people an opportunity to express their views on issues affecting the continent and societies today through art and creativity. We hope that some of the young artists commissioned through the programme, and featured on the website’s Artist Portfolios, are able to use it as a springboard to develop their work, their reputation, and to connect to cultural commissioners and producers across Europe.

This project is also about engaging new audiences to culture taking place in public spaces. The six strands of LIBERTY EU (for more information, see About Us) are about experiencing art in public spaces and connecting these spaces to community or cultural venues or online platforms. For instance, you might discover the start of theatrical performance in your local plaza and be intrigued to follow it into a city theatre, library or pub. It will all be free to experience.

How has Covid-19 impacted the programme?

The central themes of LIBERTY EU are at the fore of people’s minds – in particular thoughts around freedom and democracy today. Many of us experienced a loss of freedom due to Covid restrictions, but this is nothing compared to what millions of people face every day – regardless of a pandemic. Some of the work supported by LIBERTY EU in 2020 challenged our new notions of ‘freedom’ and it needs to remind us to give voice to those who continue to campaign for freedom from their struggles, and to young people who will shape this continent for a better and fairer future.

Obviously, restrictions on live events have had a huge impact on the programme, and where possible, we have tried to work with artists to present their work on different platforms.

Although the Pandemic has meant some of our activity stopped, we know that throughout the last year characterised by ‘lockdowns’, people have found ways in which to engage with artistic offerings, and artists have been innovative and reactionary against this backdrop. A year on, what will be interesting to see is if Lockdown has influenced peoples’ programming ideas and ways to engage with culture. For us, will we have found new ways for culture and art to reach out and connect to more people?


Images of VOICES (The Visitor Procession) featuring SBC Theatre and One Table and Five Chairs, or Actually Six -featuring Artstudio at Journeys Festival International Leicester 2018 by Matt Cawrey Photography

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