Don't miss a stellar festival line-up at DMU - book your tickets now


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Iconic fashion designer Katharine Hamnett, award-winning documentary maker David Olusoga, and prominent figure in trans art Travis Alabanza are just some of the big names taking part in De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) annual Cultural eXchanges Festival.

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Travis Alabanza

Staged by 15 final-year Arts and Festivals Management students, this year’s festival runs from Monday 24 to Friday 28 February and boasts 40 events on campus and across the city - many of them free – including engaging workshops, compelling performances and inspiring talks.

Emmy award winner Joseph Bennett will be in conversation about his 30-year career as an acclaimed production designer. He has worked on HBO’s Rome and feature films such as Jude, Hardware and Event Horizon, as well as Alexander McQueen’s fashion shows since 1999.

Music fans can experience an epic musical journey by booking tickets to see prog-rock post-tango band Labertino, made up of Philharmonia Orchestra violinist Adrian Varela and a quartet of musicians who have worked with Freddie Mercury and Ozzy Osbourne.

Katharine Hamnett, inventor of the slogan T-shirt and the first designer to use distressed denim, is one of the pioneers of modern British fashion. She will take part in the festival via live link to talk about championing sustainability in the industry for 30 years.

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Katharine Hamnett

Renowned historian, broadcaster and film-maker David Olusoga will talk about some of his most successful work, including his BAFTA-winning documentary Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners and his highly-acclaimed series A House Through Time.

Travis Alabanza, prominent emerging writer and performer, will discuss the issues facing gender non-conforming and trans people. Their recent show Burgerz won the Total Theatre Edinburgh Fringe Award and was voted the Guardian Readers Favourite.

One of the UK’s leading female record producers Aubrey Whitfield will share what it’s like to be a woman in the music industry, reflecting on her career highlights including her collaborations with best-selling artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Little Mix and Soul II Soul.

Practical sessions will give participants the chance to try out new skills, including Chinese calligraphy and Kathak dancing.

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David Olusoga

Other events include reconstructing the fascinating programmes curated by the Leicester Film Society over its 89-year history and hearing from award-winning photographer David Bebber about his captivating work with an international conservation charity, taking him from Vietnam to Paraguay.

DMU students have organised every aspect of the festival, from planning and booking the events to designing and promoting marketing materials.

Ploy Arkart said: “I’ve learned a lot about how to approach organising a festival on this scale - how to programme it, contacting and booking artists, the finance side of things, and so much more.”

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Download the Cultural eXchanges brochure and book your tickets online

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Aubrey Whitfield

The 20-year-old student from Thailand is especially happy to have personally secured one of the festival’s headliners.

“My family is in the events business and through that I got to work with Joseph Bennett last summer. He was the production designer for the Mon Guerlain advert featuring Angelina Jolie and filmed by Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki in Cambodia,” she said.

“As the events assistant on the project, I worked closely with Bennett so when we were planning Cultural eXchanges I decided to give him a call and ask if he would join our line-up. I’m so excited that he could make it.”

Course mate Kayleigh Glover said: “It’s been a really good experience and it’s boosted my knowledge and confidence of developing and maintaining a strong social media presence.”

Running a design competition for the festival poster and brochure was a particular highlight for Kayleigh.

“It was great to get students from around the university involved and it was such a privilege to review the artwork submitted. Picking a favourite was really hard, but first-year photography and video student Sendy Starcic was a deserving winner,” said the 21-year-old from Nuneaton.

Download the Cultural eXchanges brochure and book your tickets online.

Posted on Monday 10th February 2020

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