Angela Davis, Arundhati Roy and Kae Tempest are joining Inside Out, an autumn season of live online events from the Southbank Centre and its first since lockdown started in March.
In all there are 40 multi-arts events running from 17th September to 30th December and live streamed online, including seven literature events from around the world, which will run in place of the London Literature Festival.
Head of literature and spoken work Ted Hodgkinson told The Bookseller: “The intention was for us to put together events which were timely, which grappled with urgent questions that have been raised through this very strange time — questions about inequality and culture wars and how we perhaps speak to each other across these divides."
Literary events will begin with writer and activist Angela Davis direct from Santa Cruz on 17th September in a collaboration with the Stuart Hall Foundation and chaired by Brett St Louis.
Award-winning poet and author Claudia Rankine will discuss her new book Just Us (Allen Lane), which centres on a study of white supremacy, with journalist Gary Younge on 9th October.
Also on the bill, Kae Tempest will discuss their first book of non-fiction, On Connection (Faber Social), described by Hodgkinson as “a really enlivening and vital look at connection and creativity” streamed from the Royal Festival Hall stage on 13th October.
Arundhati Roy will to discuss her new book of essays, Azadi (Penguin), and reflect on the meaning of freedom in a world after the pandemic from her home in India in an event chaired by journalist Razia Iqbal on 22nd October, and the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Alicia Garza, will feature in a session live from the Royal Festival Hall on 28th October to discuss her book The Purpose of Power (Transworld).
Actors and writers Dawn French and John Cleese will also launch their new books Because of You (Michael Joseph) and On Creativity: A short and cheerful guide (Cornerstone) on 19th October and 2nd November respectively.
Hodgkinson said: “There's a lot here that I think will be both a source of thought-provoking discussion and also something that is nourishing and feeds those aspects of ourselves like our desire for connection and creativity that perhaps have been starved slightly during this strange interregnum of isolation that we've been in.”
Inside Out also includes 30 orchestral concerts, 10 of which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3. The centre as also opened Everyday Heroes, a free outdoor public art and poetry exhibition, which celebrates frontline workers around the UK and includes contributions from poets such as Simon Armitage and Raymond Antrobus.
Hodgkinson said it would be good to be back following the Southbank Centre's closure at the start of lockdown.
He said: “Even though we can't yet bring physical audiences back this is an opportunity for us to bring people together online and hear these great writers and thinkers and to still have some form of connection despite the challenges we face. It feels good to be back and to be doing this work and to be against the heart of that cultural conservation and connecting audiences with authors who we really believe in.”
The lockdown period brought news the centre is cutting around 400 jobs across the organisation with a warning it could face a £5.1m deficit for the 2020–21 financial year and is at risk of staying closed until at least April 2021.
Hodgkinson would not give details on those affected but said his team had been impacted in a “very difficult period”. He said he had said goodbye to some “committed, brilliant, incredibly creative colleagues” he had worked with for years because of the cuts.
He added: “We were definitely going in the right direction before this and I really want to see that good work continue as soon as it possibly can once we're on the other side of this. I think that, if anything, it's just focused us even more on the importance of bringing people together and the value of what we do.”
Tickets for literature events will be on sale to members on 4th September and general public from 7th September via the Southbank Centre website, with the exception of the Cleese event which will go on sale to members on 11th September and the general public on 14th September.
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