Around 1200 festival-goers gathered in Queen Square in Bristol at the weekend (10th/11th June) for an extraordinary gathering, embracing people across the political spectrum and outside the political system. The Big Tent Ideas Summit and Festival brought together leading politicians – local, national, and international – business leaders, campaigners and, most importantly, the public for two days of discussion on the issues that mattered.
The Summit began with Mayor Marvin Rees and Neil O’Brien MP, Minister for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announcing a £95 million grant to kickstart a transformative regeneration scheme in the city centre, setting the scene for a day of debate and shared experience on city-led regeneration. Other speakers included Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Minister for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Tobias Ellwood MP and Asier Abaunza, head of regeneration in Bilbao.
The Saturday festival sessions covered a huge range of topics including Ukraine, housing, health and education reform, and new media. Participants heard how Ambition Lawrence Weston set up a community owned wind turbine, why consumers need to make a connection between the plastic they use and the plastic poisoning the ocean and how second mortgage schemes could make homes more energy efficient.
Shadow Cabinet members, Anneliese Dodds and Thangam Debbonaire, were joined in person by former and current Lib Dem leaders, Vince Cable and Ed Davey, and virtually by Cabinet members Alok Sharma and Kwasi Kwarteng. They were welcomed by Radix Big Tent Board members and MPs George Freeman, Minister for Science and Innovation and Stephen Kinnock, Shadow Minister for Immigration.
“We are thrilled with the success of Big Tent in Bristol this year,” said Radix Big Tent CEO, Ben Rich, “and hope to leave a real legacy for the city.
“Our angel investors were presented with a range of exciting business propositions from local entrepreneurs which we believe will lead to real investment and support for local business. Government Ministers heard great new ideas on topics from housing to climate change which we will hope will have a real influence on policy. Meanwhile, everyone was entertained and inspired by some of Bristol’s best artists and performers and they showcased the best of the city’s arts and culture. I particularly welcomed the contributions that young people made: the Bristol Youth Mayor Anika Mistry is a great advocate for increased youth involvement in democracy and we were delighted that Babbasa TV finished our day with a live production of their Let’s Talk programme.”