What not to miss at DemFest? Well, all of it really. But with only so many hours in the day, we've pulled together a selection of not-to-be-missed events!
If you've only just stumbled across DemFest, here's a bit of background: DemFest is the newest addition to the Gladstone's Library calendar. It’s a festival of democracy, celebrating the values of liberty and free-speech that Gladstone held so dear in his lifetime, and it’s happening from 13th May – 14th May 2016 throughout our beautiful Library building.
With over 20 speakers and events set to fill our rooms, DemFest will be a jam-packed weekend of discussion, debate and diversity (and tea. Always tea.) We've already cherry-picked the talks that we plan to sneak into, and part of us is loathe to tell you about them, lest we can’t squeeze in at the back, but we've decided, after some soul searching, that sharing our excitement with you would be the democratic thing to do. It’s what Gladstone would have wanted.
Our Generation: Making Democracy Work for Young People (Saturday, 14th May, 5.30pm – 6.30pm) is delivered by political entrepreneur and all-round cool cat, Kenny Imafidon. Author of the award-winning, The Kenny Reports, Kenny has been working in politics since the age of 16 and has battled significant odds to become a well-respected political campaigner. His talk explores the ways in which modern-day democracy can further engage young people - and, in turn, how the youth of today can make themselves heard in an increasingly politically-oriented world. This is definitely one for the students!
Democratic Readings (Friday, 13th May, 8pm - 9.30pm) takes place in our beautiful Reading Rooms and is run in association with Museums at Night. Democratic Readings is the latest in our series of Library open-mic nights, previous installments of which have included an Alice in Wonderland-themed Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and readings from the best Gothic and Victorian literature. This time, the theme is democracy - no surprise there! Come along and listen to a selection of diary entries, slogans, and speeches (personally, we’re hoping someone suggests Les Miserables) all delivered by lamplight. And if you fancy taking part, we encourage you to be as creative or traditional as you like. The rules are simple - just pick your favourite written passage on the theme of democracy (from 200-300 words) and send it to email@example.com.
State of Emergency: War, Terror and Democracy (Saturday, 14th May, 4pm – 5pm) is led by Rosemary Bechler of openDemocracy and international human rights lawyer Margaret Owen. This talk will explore how 'democratic' countries (such as the UK) can engage with the plight of those living in, and fleeing, those countries and societies labelled as 'non-democratic.' Do we have a responsibility to help? And in a world where asylum, migration and war are increasingly salient topics, are there any easy answers? Anyone with an interest in human rights should make sure to attend this.
With the EU Referendum set to take place on 23rd June 2016, now is the time we should be talking about the UK's current political climate. Futures of European Democracy (Saturday, 14th May, 7pm – 8pm) will be an evening filled with debate. Journalist Rosemary Blechler, Law lecturer James Organ and activist Jackson Oldfield lead the discussion on whether leaving the EU would be a good idea (or not) and why? If you are invested in the outcome of the looming referendum, or simply wish to find out more about it, we strongly advise that you book your ticket for this event now as it’s sure to be a popular choice!
There are also a number of free sessions throughout the festival. Enjoy a blast from the past at one of our Playback events - free playbacks of Gladstone’s Library lectures delivered at earlier dates. One that we’re particularly keen on revisiting is Shami Chakrabarti and Rachel Holmes (Saturday, 14th May, 5.30pm – 6.30pm), in which the ex-Executive Director of the human rights charity Liberty and journalist Rachel Holmes, led a talk on civil liberties in the UK.
Another free event well worth attending is the Local Democracy: Constituency Session (Saturday, 14th May, 1pm – 2pm), a discussion with local politicians, councilors and activists discussing the local political situation. For those interested in local politics, particularly those of Delyn, and Alyn and Deeside, this is not-to-miss.
For more information on all of these events, and the many others being run over the course of the festival, visit the DemFest website, here.
Tickets are priced between free and £6 with a £2 Concessions rate. Day Tickets are priced at £45 (including 10 events) or £15 for Concessions.
See you there!