The BIg Tent Ideas Festival is really gathering a head of steam with the formal backing of the City of York Council this week.
The council were keen to support Big Tent’s mission of stimulating regeneration and supporting left behind communities.
We do this by providing a platform for those outside the Westminster bubble, and beyond the ‘usual suspects’, to showcase the innovation, creative thinking, opportunities and challenges which could transform our communities.
We are a registered charity set up by Science Minister George Freeman MP, and Tony Blair’s former Head of Office, Baroness Morgan, to be an independent, non-partisan space for constructive political engagement and civil disagreement.
Our Festival is very informal with a mixture of panel discussions, discovery tours and interactive events, designed to create opportunities for York residents and visitors to engage with senior policy makers from across the political spectrum.
That is why we are delighted this year to have already confirmed speakers including George Freeman, Stephen Kinnock, shadow levelling up minister Sarah Owen, and local MPs Julian Sturdy and Rachael Maskell.
As we have always done, we also look forward to including speakers from the main parties on the local council, but obviously this year we will need to await the outcome of the local elections before we can confirm our council speakers.
We place huge value on simply bringing people from different political viewpoints together to talk constructively and positively.
Nonetheless, we also aim to leave a practical legacy: attracting inward investment, increasing volunteering, and providing a platform to influence political thinking, to the benefit of the host city.
To this end, this year we are:
- Working with JRF to develop a stream of programming to look at ways to reduce long term poverty.
- Working with the developers of York Central and York Riverside to promote models for sustainable growth.
- Ensuring platforms for local people through, in particular, our Speakers Corner and art wall, which are open to all.
- Working with the York and North Yorkshire Growth Hub to bring new investment to York businesses through our pitch pit (dragon’s den), which last year generated £70k for businesses in Bristol.
- We have arranged for York’s refugee communities to explain their experiences of UK immigration policy – good and bad – directly to politicians with responsibilities in this area.
- We are bringing new ideas for York’s anti-racism strategy.
- We are providing a Community Fayre for local voluntary groups to engage new clients, volunteers and users.
- And, for the first time ever – thanks to the support of the council and others – we will be providing tickets free to all.
In conclusion, we are incredibly proud of what we do and incredibly grateful that the council is supporting our work.
We are looking forward to working closely with them to make this our best festival ever.
Coming along on 17 June? Book your ticket here.