Anarchist Festival, a decentralised event happening across Britain and Ireland since 2018, has announced its 2020 dates. Here is what the Afest collective has to say.
This is a call out to take part in what will be the third Anarchist Festival, happening across Britain and Ireland. The idea is simple: groups or individuals put on their own anarchist events and actions, concentrating on the dates of Friday 1st to Monday 4th May 2020, and the programme is collated and promoted by us on our website and social media( 1 and 2).
So far the model has been a success, with a good range of well-attended events at multiple venues having occurred. The decentralised model means location shouldn’t be a barrier to putting something on.
The ideal vision for the festival would be to see events, large and small, all across Britain and Ireland. The more events that take place, the more momentum the festival has, and in turn the more people might get involved and come into contact with anarchist ideas. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
In recent years we have seen anarchist bookfairs pop up in cities and towns across the UK and it would be particularly good if those groups might organise something as part of the festival.
But in practice anyone could put something on, whoever they are and wherever they are. This is a good opportunity to get anarchist thinking and practice happening in the local community, and outside of the usual anarchist circles. Ideas might include: reading an anarchist text in a local book group, organising a discussion in a local pub or meeting space, engaging the local community in a little ‘anarchism in action’, be it a solidarity action collecting for a food bank, a bit of guerrilla gardening, closing a street off for a party – whatever you think is best. There’s an archive of events from the last two years on the Anarchist Festival website, but don’t let what has gone before limit the possibilities. The potential here is endless, and the definition of what counts as anarchism can be at its broadest and most inclusive.
A little history: the idea to do this came after feeling the absence of the London Anarchist Bookfair in 2018 and 2019. We couldn’t readily replicate the incredible organisational work that goes into putting the bookfair on, but those who wanted to could at least put on our own small events, and keep the spirit of a communal yearly anarchist event going.
It is cheering to see that there is an attempt to get an anarchist bookfair in London up and running again in October 2020, but with the previous success of our decentralised festival we feel it’s worth keeping this initiative going too. By having our event in May it leaves a space of about half a year between the two events, allowing plenty of time for planning and organising.
This year Afest will also fall on the weekend of May Day / International Workers Day. In the past this has been a bank holiday, but the government has shifted the holiday to Friday 8th May so as to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, all of which seems like a fitting moment to go some way to reclaiming May Day’s anarchist roots.
Do have a look at the website for more info, not least about what to do to submit an event for the programme. www.anarchistfestival.wordpress.com
Really hope you can get involved! ■