Big Tent Festival Programme Announced

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The programme for the Big Tent Ideas Festival – taking place on Saturday 17th June in Dean’s Park, York Minster – has just been revealed with a packed line-up of front-bench politicians, representatives from six national mainstream political parties and big names from the world of media, business and academia, bringing the national conversation to Yorkshire.

Participants include Government Ministers, members of the Shadow Cabinet, three Former Government Ministers, MPs and Councillors from York and North Yorkshire as well as Greg Dyke, former Director-General of the BBC, Sir Tim Smit, founder of the Eden Project and journalist and campaigner, Melissa Benn.

The Big Tent Ideas Festival is free but must be registered for at Space is limited so early booking is recommended. In a constructive, fun and non-partisan environment, ticket-holders will be able to take part in wide-ranging discussions including

  • What devolution could mean with Cllr Claire Douglas, leader of the City of York Council, Cllr Gareth Dadd, Deputy leader of North Yorkshire County Council, Simon Biltcliffe, leader, Yorkshire Party and Baroness Judith Blake,  Shadow Spokesperson, Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
  • Whether decarbonisation can deliver economic success with speakers including local MP Julian Sturdy and deputy leader of the Green Party, Zack Polanski
  • How we can build a new social contract for the NHS with speakers including former Health Secretary, Lord Lansley, CEO of the NHS Confederation Matthew Taylor and author and founder of The Equality Trust, Prof Kate Pickett
  • The impact of Covid and Brexit on the workforce with Shadow Immigration Minister, Stephen Kinnock MP
  • How we can build a poverty-free York, led by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and with a panel including York MP, Rachael Maskell and Deputy Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Dr Hannah Barham-Brown

The panel discussions are designed to provide plenty of opportunity for audience participation but the day also includes many other interactive sessions for festival-goers to take the opportunity to shape debate. Highlights include

  • The Pitch Pit and Entrepreneurs’ Pit Stop.  Introduced by Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake MP, the Pitch Pit sees local entrepreneurs pitching for real investment and mentoring from the Big Tent’s Angel Investors with audience members able to show their choice and question the competitors. Following this, Science, Innovation and Technology Minister, George Freeman MP hosts the Pit Stop, a networking and advice session for businesses.
  • The influential Times Health Commission will be hearing evidence from expert witnesses and all Festival attendees will have the opportunity to give their own oral evidence to the Commission on health and social experiences and what is needed for healthcare reform.
  • Walking tours of York, led by Invisible Cities
  • Art workshops with an Art Wall for festival-goers to have their say and an interactive project looking at the refugee experience, led by local artist Greg McGee.
  • Participatory drama workshop with Arts & Homelessness International, looking at the challenges around homelessness.

CEO Ben Rich is delighted with this year’s programme. “There really is something for everyone,” he explains. “You can go from a discussion around the value of the City of Culture project – led by the people who are most expert in this, the Directors of the most recent and upcoming festivals – to sessions on what children really want from education and their future, told by themselves and then move on to the role of religion, playing your role with a smartphone quiz and challenging Sarah Owen MP – Shadow Minister for Faith as well as Levelling Up. And if you do feel there’s a topic that we’ve not already covered, you can always book a slot in the Speakers Corner and remind the world about it.”

Tickets for the Big Tent Ideas Festival are free but must be registered here . Check out the full programme here.

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