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About the festival

Cultural eXchanges Festival 2021: Dean's Foreword


Welcome to this online edition of Cultural eXchanges Festival. This year sees another eclectic and diverse programme of events. This is the 20th anniversary of the festival and the intervening years have seen it steadily grow and become a firmly established feature in Leicester’s cultural calendar.

It has been an enormous challenge for students and staff to deliver the festival but it is to their credit that in this, its 20th year, the festival displays the same level of ambition and adventure as ever. None more so than in the number of events with an international focus that are being delivered live via links with guests in the USA, Canada and Denmark.

This year, as always, we have an enticing range of artists and speakers for you to enjoy, such as acclaimed choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne OBE, inspirational young leader Meg Wamithi, teenage campaigner for sustainability Scarlett Westbrook and Jamie Campbell, of the eponymously named West End Musical, ‘Everyone’s Talking About Jamie’. We also embrace Leicester based artists and speakers too, such as illustrator Luan Barber-Norton and author Jon Martin.

The ethos of the festival has always been to encourage people who may not have been to a university before to come through our doors. Our aim of linking town and gown remains undiminished, although this year’s method of achieving it is one that we might not have envisaged when the festival began. The past year however has served to underline more than ever the importance of reaching out to our various communities in whatever ways we can.

So I invite you to embrace our online festival and hope you enjoy the experience, whether it’s by visiting the virtual art exhibition or enjoying an online performance of music or poetry. There are so many stimulating events to choose from, all of which are free. I look forward to seeing you ‘virtually’ there.

Simon Bradbury
Pro Vice-Chancellor International, Dean of the Faculty of Arts Design and Humanities

Cultural eXchanges is a diverse week of interactive discussions, performances and talks at DMU showcasing an eclectic programme of guests. The festival and its programme represent the culture and creativity of De Montfort University, the city of Leicester and contemporary society in order to bring together cultures and industries. It is hosted by the Faculty of Arts, Design and Humanities, and is run by students on the Arts and Festivals Management BA (Hons) degree students.

Initially a one-off event to celebrate the opening of the new Humanities Clephan Building in 2000, its success led it to become an annual fixture.

The festival is celebrating its 20 year anniversary and has agrowing regional and national profile and has established itself as a key event within the cultural calendar for Leicestershire and the East Midlands.

The week-long festival takes place in February/March each year and:

  • It attracts audiences upwards of 3,000.
  • It offers a wide range of discussions, talks, performances and workshops.
  • lMost of the events are free in keeping with our aim of reaching people who would not normally come through our doors.
  • 40% of the audience are from outside the university.

Sponsorship and partners

  • UNITE Student accommodation is our sole festival sponsor. They have generously provided support since 2014.
  • Sponsors have included Leicestershire and Rutland Life and Skylink, secured by the students.
  • Selected events have been programmed in collaboration with Arts Council England.
  • We have had partnership with Channel 4 (4 Talent) who have previously broadcast podcasts events from the festival such as Mark Thomas, Sue Townsend, Katharine Whitehorn and Grayson Perry.