Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF), the U.K.’s biggest annual celebration of Arab arts and culture, returns to venues across the city from 8th to 16th July 2017.
Organisers have now announced the first wave of nationally and internationally celebrated artists and performers coming together for what organisers describe as the festival’s “most vital edition to date”.
The diverse programme embraces both brand new work and the return of festival favourites, including an ambitious installation by an American-Iraqi artist, a performance in Sefton Park’s iconic Palm House by a Sudanese singer-songwriter, an “armed resistance fighter turned artist”, a one-woman show about Somalia and the violence of empire, and the recreation of a Tunisian streetscape in Liverpool.
Each summer, LAAF attracts both local audiences and audiences from around the world, who flock to see the richness of Arab culture through a packed 10 day programme of visual art, music, dance, film, theatre, literature and special family-friendly events and this year, organisers are keen to encourage audiences to support LAAF and other arts festivals and cultural organisations that “support freedom of creative expression and to give a voice to people and their frustrations”.
Taher Qassim, Chair of Liverpool Arab Arts Festival said “We are living in an era of dramatic change, flux and contradiction. In some respects we live in a more open, connected and accepting world than ever before, while at home and across the globe people live in fear, and endure conflict and oppression.
We believe in the transformational power of artistic expression, and invite all types of people, from all walks of life to experience the work of artists from the Arab diaspora, who push us to think radically and deal with a sometimes uncomfortable reality, who see the world as it is, and imagine how it could be.”
This year, LAAF takes on the theme “The space between us”, which responds to Liverpool’s city-wide 67-17: 50 Summers of Love season, a series of events and performances inspired by the golden anniversary of the Summer of Love and the release of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The theme was inspired by the opening line of ‘Within You Without You’, a track released on the Sgt. Pepper’s album, reportedly inspired by George Harrison’s interest in the metaphysical space that prevents us from recognising the natural forces uniting the world. The programme explores those constructs, boundaries and ‘spaces’ between us.
Assistant Mayor and cabinet member for culture, tourism and events, Councilor Wendy Simon, said, “I’m delighted LAAF is embracing our 50 Summers of Love theme and it’s a welcome addition to the festival. LAAF’s 2017 programme sounds stronger than ever with an incredible mix of artists, and I look forward to seeing their response to the city-wide theme which is set to be both fascinating and thought-provoking.”