“The Socialist objective is not a society where everything comes right in the end, because kind old gentlemen give away turkeys. What are we aiming at, if not a society in which ‘charity’ would be unnecessary? We want a world where Scrooge, with his dividends, and Tiny Tim, with his tuberculous leg, would both be unthinkable.”
George Orwell, ‘Why Socialists Don’t Believe in Fun’, 20 December 1943
2016 was an amazing year for AV Festival and marked the start of our two-part biennial ‘Meanwhile, what about Socialism’, which continues with Part 2 in March 2018. George Orwell’s book ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’ provides the overall thematic framework for AV Festival 2016 – 2018. Published nearly eighty years ago in 1937 it is a powerful account of life in the industrial North of England amidst growing social injustice, poverty, unemployment, and class division, presenting a compelling analysis of English socialism. 
In 2017 we will be busy developing the artistic programme for AV Festival 2018 and working on a series of exciting new international collaborations and artist commissions.
If you would like to support us to develop the 2018 programme you can now make a
 donation onlinewhich will contribute directly to our artist commissions. 

Reimagine India

In August we were pleased to announce an award of £98,823 from Arts Council England’s Reimagine India programme. Research and production begins in the New Year in India on three ambitious new commissions by artists Raqs Media Collective, Pallavi Paul and Prabhakar Pachpute. For Raqs Media Collective the road to Wigan Pier begins in Motihari in the North Indian state of Bihar where George Orwell was born as Eric Arthur Blair in 1903.

Creative Europe

This autumn we worked with partners including the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle (Warsaw), Contemporary Art Centre (Vilnius) and Visual Culture Research Centre (Kyiv) to submit a Creative Europe application for a series of new artist commissions to be presented in the UK, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine in 2018.

International Events

In October, the Festival Director, Rebecca Shatwell was invited to K-ART Conversation 2016 at Seoul International Art Fair to take part in a panel discussion with Jonathan Watkins, (director, Ikon Gallery) and McKenzie Wark (Professor of Culture and Media, The New School). In June she was invited to participate in the On & For Production meeting in Madrid to discuss production support for artists working with the moving image.


Campaign Images - Xmas 2016 - MarkRobinson_bw_126x150      New Chair of the Board

After four years and two editions of AV Festival, Lord Shipley stepped down as Chair in August 2016. The new Chair of the Board is Mark Robinson. Mark is the founder of Thinking Practice, out of which he consults, coaches, researches, and writes. His work on adaptive resilience is used internationally. He was previously Executive Director of Arts Council England, North East.
      Looking Back: 2016 Independent Evaluation
In October we also published the independent evaluation of AV Festival 2016 by BOP Consulting, who concluded: “AV Festival has once again shown its important artistic and economic contribution to the North East. AV Festival 2016’s bold political themes and programming make it relevant and engaging for its loyal existing followers as well as new audiences.”
    2016 Archive Highlight
If you missed the Festival’s special screening event of Naeem Mohaiemen’s ‘The United Red Army (The Young Man Was…, Part 1), you can now watch the extraordinary live conversation that took place after the film between the hostage negotiator Air Vice-Marshall (retd.) A.G Mahmud and Carole Wells one of the hostages. It was their first meeting since the Japanese Red Army hijack of flight JAL 472 to Dhaka in 1977.
    Publication Highlight
You can still purchase a copy of our publication ‘Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland’ produced in 2015 to accompany the tour of Susan Stenger’s commission across Northumberland. The fully illustrated publication includes an essay by award-winning nature writer Robert Macfarlane and a CD stereo mix of the work.