Ron Dearing UTC students are playing their biggest part yet in Hull’s Freedom Festival.
The festival was fully established in 2013 following its beginning at Hull’s 2007 William Wilberforce commemorations and has become the highlight of the city’s annual artistic and cultural programme.
Due to Covid-19, Freedom Festival did not take place as usual last year and was an online and broadcast event. This will be the second time Ron Dearing UTC students have been involved in the festival through a partnership between the employer-led school and the festival organisers, Freedom Festival Arts Trust.
Covid restrictions allowing, this year will see about 30 Year 12 and 13 art and graphic design students play their part, including 20 of them becoming young reporters and joining the event’s official media team to cover various elements of the festival, including the main event in September.
It is also hoped Ron Dearing UTC will become a public exhibition space where artwork and photography by students and staff can be viewed by the public during the festival.
Students have been given a brief by Anthony Baker, Executive Director and Joint CEO of Freedom Festival, and Mikey Martins, Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive, to create their own piece of public art based on the theme of freedom.
They have complete freedom to choose what they wish to create, such as statues and art and light installations, to go on public display in the community during the festival. They will pitch their ideas to the Freedom Festival team via online meetings.
Talks will also be held with the school’s employer partners and other local businesses regarding siting the students’ artwork on their premises and around the city.
Lynn Garland-Collins, Senior Assistant Principal and Director of Creativity at Ron Dearing UTC, said: “It’s such an extensive programme and a phenomenal opportunity for our students.
“The team behind the Freedom Festival is giving students a detailed insight into how every element of an event of this scale is organised and delivered and providing them with a fantastic opportunity to get involved.
“They’re finding out about planning, health and safety, risk assessments, communication, artistic roles and logistics, and they can apply all of this to their own learning.
“They have the chance to create art which is going to inspire, delight and encourage conversation, and knowing their artwork could be exhibited in public spaces across the city is very exciting.
“The eyes of the world are on Hull during Freedom Festival and this is a wonderful opportunity for our students to showcase themselves through their artwork and step outside their comfort zones.”
A photography competition has also been launched for Ron Dearing students and staff, with photographs selected for the Freedom Festival exhibition and students involved in the Young Reporter Scheme will have training on interview techniques, blogging, social media and more.
Students could also have the chance to get involved in the International Freedom Festival Symposium, which sees people from around the world debate and discuss the topics around freedom.
Year 12 student Ryan Morris, 16, said: “I’m excited to be involved and it’s such a big opportunity. I’d feel honoured if people wanted to come and look at my work alongside the work of my classmates.”
Fellow Year 12 student Kelsey Hearne, 16, said: “This is such a good opportunity to get our artwork out there and it’s a chance to do something different to showcase our creative skills.”
Anthony said: “We are delighted to be working with Ron Dearing UTC for another year, giving their students a unique experience of Freedom Festival and meeting with the festival creative team and artists throughout the year to give them further insight into their studies.
“Young people are the future of our city and through our work we aim to give them a deeper understanding of how art and creativity play an integral part in our ongoing happiness and prosperity.
“The pandemic has shown just how much value we place on creative enjoyment and the students of Ron Dearing UTC will play their part in developing projects which may feature at the festival in the future.”