wins cash boost for freedom celebration

Monday, 5 February 2007

Hebden Bridge Arts Festival promises to bigger and better than ever this year with the news this week that a bid for funds has been successful.

The Festival, which is non-profitmaking and relies on grants and ticket sales, was awarded nearly £10,000 by the Arts Council.

This grant, along with £2,800 from Calderdale Council, will help pay for a special programme of events celebrating the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade

The Freedom!Freedom? programme is just one part of this year’s festival, which will be the usual fantastic mix of music, drama, dance, film, art and comedy.

Canít chain up me mind - Davina Wright sings in the opening event for this yearís Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.

“We’ll not only be commemorating this important political and cultural event, but we’ll also be celebrating the idea of freedom in an exciting and innovative programme of themed events linked to the main Hebden Bridge Arts Festival,” explains festival organiser Enid Stephenson.

Opening the Freedom! Freedom? programme will be internationally renowned Grand Union Orchestra, performing their brand new work Can’t Chain Up Me Mind at Hebden Bridge Picture House on Saturday, June 30.

The orchestra is made up of well-known jazz players including Claude Deppa (trumpet, percussion), Tony Kofi (alto and baritone sax), Andy Grappy (tuba) and Emmanuel Tagoe (African drums). The title comes from a lyric by the Caribbean poet Valerie Bloom. She, Nuno Silveira from Angola and South African actor and playwright John Matshikiza have written the lyrics, and the music is by Tony Haynes. 

Celebrating freedom – Brian Abrahams joins the Grand Union Orchestra on June 30 at Hebden Bridge Picture House for the opening event in this year’s Hebden Bridge Arts Festival

Can’t Chain Up Me Mind exemplifies the thoroughbred (but essentially mongrel) jazz tradition – reliant on individual and collective improvisation and highly-charged vocals, with a strong emphasis on two centuries of African, Caribbean and Latin-American music. The performance follows the migration of jazz across and around the Atlantic with the slave trade, its emergence as a music of protest, and its present-day dance rhythms.

There will also be schools workshops linked to the performance.

“The benefits of the Freedom project will be enormous – for audiences, for the future and growth of the Arts Festival, for the performers and artists involved, for the town and for Yorkshire as a whole,” says Enid Stephenson.

“We believe strongly in the power of the arts to address current issues. And there is nothing as universally topical as the subject of freedom. We need to learn from our history and to face current realities. But we do not forget the importance of entertainment, of laughter and of families coming together to enjoy – and learn from – arts events.”

The Arts Festival is now hoping Hebdenroyd Town Council, which has been very supportive in the past, will be able to donate much-needed funds for other aspects of the programme.

Information about Hebden Bridge Arts Festival 2007, which runs from June 30 to July 15, will be available later this spring. In the meantime, if you’d like to be kept in touch with what’s planned, e-mail or visit



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