The 10th anniversary of Outburst - Belfast's cutting edge international queer arts festival - sees it go global.
Thanks to a partnership with the British Council, this year’s festival – which kicks off today (November 10) - will celebrate LGBTQ creative practice from Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the Americas by exploring the idea of “Home”.
The partnership is a result of Outburst’s Artistic Director, Ruth McCarthy, visiting the Americas in 2015 to learn, share and develop LGBTQ experiences, particularly in Brazil and the Caribbean.
The festival boasts participants from over 15 countries this year in a programme that brings to life both the unique stories and common experiences of LGBTQ people in relation to “Home”, from as far away as Brazil and St. Vincent & the Grenadines, to those in Ireland and the U.K.
The festival opens tonight (Thurs, November 10) with the world premiere of Small Axe: Caribbean Queer Visualities at the Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast.
This exciting new group exhibition of queer work includes artists from Barbados, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and examines queer developments in the Caribbean and its diaspora over the past two decades.
Then on Friday, (November 11) Outburst will host an international symposium on queer arts, welcoming artists, performers, producers and activists from Brazil, Venezuela, Trinidad, UK, Ireland, Jamaica, Colombia, USA, Canada and Argentina. Another part of the collaboration with the British Council, this event will pursue issues such as how to develop global queer arts partnerships and how best to nurture queer arts creativity.
The symposium is followed by the production - O Evangelho Segundo Jesus, Rainha do Céu - on Nov 11-12 at the MAC in Belfast. This powerful reimagining of Jo Clifford’s Jesus Queen of Heaven embodies Jesus in the present time as a travesti woman from the fringes of Sao Paulo.
With more transgender people murdered in Brazil each year than in any other country in the world, this piece asks why we still persecute the Outsider.
Speaking about the production, Outburst’s Ruth McCarthy, said “This performance is an incredibly beautiful and moving piece. By using a familiar story that we all know, our audiences can identify with real issues that LGBTQ people still face.
“It is particularly poignant that the performance is here as we approach Transgender Awareness Week on Nov 14-20 which aims to raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and address the issues the community faces.”
As well as the Americas connection, Outburst and the British Council will explore online the idea of home through a series of digital commissions. They’ve asked some of the most interesting UK artists – including Omagh poet Cat Brogan, Le Gateau Chocolat, David Hoyle, Gerry Potter, and Robert Softley, most of whom will be performing at this year’s festival – to create short films exploring the question: What does ‘home’ mean to us as queer people?
Speaking about the collaboration, Graham Sheffield, Director of Arts for British Council, said:
“We are excited about the work that Outburst Queer Arts Festival has been developing over the past year with British Council Americas and British Council Northern Ireland, to celebrate their 10th Anniversary.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Outburst, one of this city's most exciting festivals, on the discussions and presentations on queer arts practice and the role and development of queer arts as a global catalyst for change, themes that are so important to our work across the world.”
Outburst Arts Festival runs from November 10-19. To find out more about the programme, and buy tickets – visit http://outburstarts.com/.
For more information on their collaboration with the British Council and the online digital project, visit https://nireland.britishcouncil.org/programmes/outburst-queer-arts-festival.