Southbank Centre launches pre-General Election festival

Southbank Centre tackles British history ahead of the General Election
Southbank Centre tackles British history ahead of the General Election

The last 70 years of British history, focusing on society, culture and politics, is being explored up until the General Election as part of London's Southbank Centre's latest festival.

The Changing Britain season, which launched last Friday (30 January) and runs until 9 May, will re-imagine and scrutinise the nation's recent past, taking stock of the shifts in policy, law, attitudes and culture from 1945 to present day.

The festival will feature three immersive weekends leading up to the General Election exploring the changing landscape of politics, economics, welfare, immigration, culture, feminism, education and defence. The weekends will focus on separate time periods, including 1945 to 1979 (18-19 April); 1979 to 1997 (25-26 April) and 1997 – 2015 (2 May).

Each weekend will feature a diverse programme of talks and debates, alongside film screenings, music and performances, on-site installations, social dances, workshops and other pop-up activities.

Following the election, Southbank Centre is dedicating a day to artists and audiences who will give a message to the new government about the importance of creativity, including the London Sinfonietta. They will perform two sets of newly commissioned works co-curated by Matthew Herbert and the Royal Philharmonic Society on 9 May.

Other highlights will include an exhibition in partnership with Counterpoints Arts, which will explore the stories of migration to the UK over the last 70 years, and three concerts from the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Jude Kelly, artistic director of Southbank Centre, said: "May 2015 is not only election time but the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, out of which the 1951 Festival of Britain was born – a festival of idealism, optimism and imagination created to pave the way for a better future for the country.

"At a time when the appetite for politics and politicians seems to have waned, it is a pivotal moment to take stock and ask if we still believe in the values that were put in place after the war."

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