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As part of the Artbomb arts festival  this Opened on August 5th and running through September 29th next to the Unitarian Church, Birdsong featured newly commissioned works by 14 local artists. The title of this exhibition highlights what we heard during lockdown: the absence of the usual hustle bustle sounds emitting from humans, with the replacement of birdsong. The works explore the impact of Covid 19 as the artists capture our condition through different artistic approaches. Artists featured in this exhibition include Sarah Villeneau, Mandy Keating, James Lockey, Ian Byatt, Sacha Gray, Vicky Morris, Raj Madaan, Angela Robson, Amelia Londsdale, Les Monaghan, Natasha Clarke, Sarah Smizz and Warren Draper.

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Public Art Forum 

Aptly titled Public Art to Street Art, this one day forum featured presentations, workshops and roundtable discussions which took place on Friday the 6th of August at the Unitarian Church. Convenors were Mike Stubbs (Doncaster Creates) and Helen Pheby (Yorkshire Sculpture Park). An event for artists, curators, urbanists and writers to challenge how we think of art in the public realm. Featured in this Forum were renowned public art curators Tamsin Dillon and Laurie Peake, street artists Jola, STATIC and Natasha Clarke, as well as sculptors Sophie Ernst and Lewis Morgan. Other artists involved included artist/architect Matthew Rosier, whose public art installation is featured outside of the Tate.  Studio Polpo, who currently represents the UK at the Venice Architecture Biennale.  Together these celebrated individuals discussed creative connections, social agency, effective responses and the relevance of contemporary urban interventions to form a critical understanding of people and place. As ‘high street collapse’ provides new opportunities for reimagining urban space, how do new forms interface with public art policy and the work of regenerative arts programs?

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Film Screenings

Film screenings and discussions followed by Q&A sessions with the filmmakers which investigate questions surrounding cultural identity, perceptions of race, colonialism, the climate emergency, gender and sexual identity. With films created by Fluidity and Bi-Polar Abdul, Chooc Ly Tan, Angela Robson and Lorna Collins and Wayne Sables and a special film screening by Eelyn Lee of her new film Casting Fu-Manchu.

Film installations also featured include those by Ryan Harstone, Rasha Kotaiche and Filippos Tsitsopoulos.

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New promenading performance work and experiments were presented on Hallgate by Gillian Dyson, Warren Draper, Sacha Gray and ‘Jackhno’ of Buffland Beat Collective. Additionally featured at The Leopard was Garden Sessions, an independent live music event produced by singer-songwriter August Charles. In a time where live music was put on hold, Charles saw an opportunity to spotlight musicians digitally by producing a series of youtube videos featuring performances in Doncaster’s Walkers Nurseries gardens. As lockdown lifts, Charles collaborated with Olivia Jones and Jez Matthews to produce a live event on Saturday, August 7th. Protesting the status quo, the event had a variety of artists performing and producing a culture clash of music and exploring sound in different formats. Musical guests included Tim Cook and Simmeon Naphtali, Jordon The Ego, GSD and August Charles.

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A series of creative workshops took place during the festival, where participants explored creative ways to create art games, experiential work and participatory explorations. In conjunction with the Birdsong show a series of workshops and professional development days have continued to run for the public and College students.

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Parallel State

Interwoven into the forum was the Parallel State in collaboration with Olivia Jones and Doncopolitan, who invited a number of people to respond to the following provocation: What Does a Northern Town Look Like in the Parallel State and what happens in it’s public spaces? All citizens in the Parallel State are equal and not bound by geographical restraints and prejudices. Without a north:south binary, how will Doncaster’s past inform this reimagined version of itself? If Doncaster were self governed, what would it look like? How would it interact with other urban and rural communities? What would its public spaces look like? The day included speakers, performances, thoughts from young people and a backroom polling station.

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