About the festival

jill-cowley-headshot-imgWe are delighted to welcome you to Cultural eXchanges 2023, and another eclectic week of talks, performances, screenings, and workshops.

Over the years, Cultural eXchanges has attracted an outstanding range of artists and speakers, and for this year’s festival, we have the greatest pleasure in welcoming Faron McKenzie, controller of BBC Radio 1Xtra; the BBC’s national radio network dedicated to amplifying Black music and culture. As the BBC marked its Centenary year in 2022, Faron will be ‘in conversation’ with DMU Media Production student, Djarnee Bill, exploring 1Xtra’s place on modern Britain.

Following the recent passing of the iconic fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, film director, Roger Burton will be presenting a screening of his 1993 film ‘Vive Le Punk’, featuring Vivienne Westwood & Malcolm McLaren talking exclusively about their ground-breaking designs, Kings Road shops and extraordinary collaboration together throughout the 1970s, that broke all the rules of convention and inspired a generation.

We are thrilled to announce that Motionhouse, one of the world’s great touring dance-circus companies, who integrate elements of circus and acrobatics with dance to surprise and delight audiences, will be joining us at this year’s festival, performing an exclusive live duet.

We are very proud to have created a festival where the vast majority of events are free, and Cultural eXchanges has always strived to create a platform for new thinking, pathways, dialogue, research, collaboration, and indeed opportunity, between both the University, and city communities.In essence, Cultural eXchanges is as much about encouraging city residents to walk through our doors, as it is for us, to walk through their doors.

Whether you are a regular support of the festival, or exploring Cultural eXchanges for the first time, we very much hope you enjoy what we have to offer, and we look forward to seeing you there.

Jill Cowley

Dean, 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 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.
  • Most 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.