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Freedom Festival draws crowds for three day arts spectacular

  • Date: 3 October 2011
  • Area: North
Two people standing inside an illuminated inflatable structure, the figures appear darkened against a backdrop of blue light

Mirazozo, Architects of Air. Credit: Courtesy of Visit Hull & East Yorkshire

Freedom - Hull's annual festival of the arts - has celebrated a successful year with an estimated crowd of over 75,000 people filling the streets of the city from 1 - 3 September to enjoy a host of performing arts, including cutting edge street theatre, world dance, and live music from nationally and internationally renowned artists.

The festival was established as lasting legacy of the Wilberforce 2007 campaign which commemorated the pioneering work of Hull-born William Wilberforce MP and the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery. It aims to create new experiences for audiences through arts activity. It also celebrates cultural diversity across a breadth of artforms and plays an important role in bringing new visitors to the city.

This year's event took place across a number of sites throughout the city. These included Queen's Gardens - home to the Wilberforce monument - and the new creative hub of Hull's Fruit Market cultural quarter, which was transformed into a bohemian hub complete with pop up bars, cafes, and a world food village.

Festival highlights included French street-theatre company Luc Amoros's Blank Page, a spellbinding live performance set on a giant scaffold canvas of squares. On these squares performers created, destroyed and recreated images, using up to 300 kilos of paint in an ever changing artwork set to a special soundtrack. Elsewhere, Hull's Freedom Gardens hosted the hugely popular Architects of Air installation Mirazozo - a multi sensory luminarium that has toured the world, including shows in Prague and at Australia's famous Sydney Opera House. Mirazozo is a stunning 55 metre long inflatable maze of winding pathways, ambient lights and majestic domes just waiting to be explored.

Janet Reuben, Chief Executive, Visit Hull & East Yorkshire said: 'Freedom was a fabulous opportunity for residents and visitors to experience some of the most fascinating performances imaginable. The festival built upon its foundation as an inclusive event that offers something for everyone and gives local people the opportunity to showcase their talents. The support Freedom receives from the Arts Council is a huge boost to arts in Hull and East Yorkshire.'

Karen Durham, Relationship Manager, Regional Planning, Arts Council England said: 'The Arts Council are delighted with the success of this year's festival - the range of arts activity and events across the city really did provide opportunities for everyone to take part in great art. We are particularly pleased that local creative businesses, arts organisations, artists, musicians and performers were supported and given a platform to be seen and heard. We look forward to working with the festival over the coming months and to building on this success ahead of next year.'

Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said: 'Major events of this nature are invaluable to the tourism industry and for all those associated businesses which benefit from the additional footfall. Everyone involved should be proud of what they have achieved.'

Freedom 2011 was supported through the Arts Council's open application funding programme Grants for the arts. The scheme awards National Lottery funding to support innovative and engaging arts projects. As of next year, Freedom will go on to form part of our National portfolio, ensuring that their role as a key feature of the region's cultural calendar will continue.