This weekend The Next Term Festival will take over Rogue Artists’ Studios at the former Varna St Primary School staging a free two-day programme of art and debate that asks, “What is the future of education?”

Initiated and developed by artists Joanna Roy, Jessica Loveday and Sophie Mahon, the festival includes a dynamic combination of workshops, ‘Sofa debates’, performances and installations. The festival is the result of a year-long research project that saw the three artists working with young people from local communities as well as teachers and educators from around the UK.

“The idea for this project grew out of our collective experiences of working in various educational settings – all three of us shared immense frustration with what was happening in our schools and wanted to use our platform as artists to help to bring about change,” says Roy.

Passionate about a need for radical education reform, the artists have devised a programme for all ages and a wide audience consisting of members of the local community, artists and educators. They have also hope that local politicians will attend.

Free workshops include Digital Knitting with Sam Meech, Glitch Art with Vicky Clarke or Sophie Mahon, Origami Paper Planes with Ciara Grant or Nikky Storyteller and Lyric Writing with Keisha Thompson, who also performs her Spoken Word live on both days. On the Saturday Angel Sweeney will lead a number of debates around topics on art and education in schools.

Rethinking education

Says Roy: “The festival and project does not only respond to the cuts to creative subjects from schools, but the entire mindset with how we think about our education system.

“The areas that our artworks respond to are things that many educators and young people have been voicing their frustrations about for years, only to continually fall on the deaf ears of government policy makers.”

To this end, the festival seeks to promote the creativity that the Next Term Festival organisers see as being lost from the national education system.

Creating ‘an alternative world’ through immersive artworks and video projection and its own curriculum of events, the festival explores topics as diverse as the culture of testing, mental health and navigating disinformation online.

“Everything in the space has grown directly from first-hand research and input from our community partners, therefore the message is really coming directly from them,” says Roy.

“Our job, as the artists, has simply been to translate these hugely important perspectives through the work and activities taking place.”

The Next Term Festival takes place on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 March 2018 at Rogue Artists’ Studios in Openshaw, Manchester

1. Outreach programme, The Next Term Festival

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