Global Streets is a national programme that is inspiring local change through unforgettable international outdoor arts experiences coupled with targeted engagement activities.
Funded by Arts Council England and managed by FESTIVAL.ORG, Global Streets gives voice to people in Barking and Dagenham, Birmingham, Coventry, Doncaster, Gloucester, Hounslow, Hull, Leicester, Liverpool, Luton, Slough and Woolwich – together representing some of the least arts-served areas in the country. Since 2015, more than 220,000 people have experienced a variety of international productions, each embedded with unique and locally imagined opportunities for people to get involved.
Having safely and successfully organised the first full, live, outdoor arts festival to take place after the outbreak of Covid-19, the team behind GDIF and FESTIVAL.ORG are working with partners across the country to share expertise on how to manage Covid-safe yet celebratory events.
Global Streets 2021
Featuring an ambitious programme of installations, performing arts and light-based work to run over summer and autumn 2021, this year’s Global Streets programme considers global challenges in local contexts, reimagines High Streets as places of social interaction and togetherness, and brings communities together to share in moments of joy, celebration and reflection.
The Hull Vigil Project
Hull’s year-long Vigil, a thought-provoking, large-scale monumental work by Australian-Belgian choreographer Joanne Leighton from Paris-based WLDN, continues in the city. Every day for a year, at sunrise and sunset, a vigil is keeping watch over Hull from a bespoke structure located on top of the Hull College building. Over the course of the year, 730 people are contributing to the collective vigil, a 365-day silent and peaceful performance, to watch over and to tell the story of a city coming back to life.
The Hull Vigil Project will be presented in Hull from 3 May 2021 – 3 May 2022.
We Are Watching
We Are Watching by Swiss artist and activist Dan Acher offers a timely commentary on the climate crisis. We Are Watching is a striking image of a giant eye flown on a monumental flag, created from digital portraits contributed by people living in 190 countries across the globe. This 10-storey high flag is designed to send a clear message to world leaders with the power to affect decisions about climate change: that the eyes of the world are upon them.
We Are Watching was presented in Greenwich, Hounslow and Doncaster over September and October.
Dan Acher’s Borealis is a spectacular installation that recreates in light and sound the experience of the Northern Lights, a mesmerising ‘must see’ moment of awe and wonder.
Borealis was presented in Greenwich and Woolwich over August and September.
Described by US-based artist Yvette Mattern as ‘a visual translation of hope and peace’, Global Rainbow has been presented around the world since 2009, its seven rainbow laser beams having taken on a new significance since 2020 with symbolic links to the NHS and the UK’s outpouring of gratitude to and support of key workers.
Global Rainbow was presented in Doncaster and Leicester in November.
Created by French artists Collectif Coin, Globoscope is an immersive installation made up of 200 luminous spheres that transform each venue into a multi-sensory, changing terrain, inviting audiences to take a surrealist stroll through its illuminated fields.
Globoscope was presented in Gloucester, Hounslow and Woolwich in November and December.
Joyous Urban Mess
Joyous Urban Mess, from the French street theatre company Les Vernisseurs, brings surprise and delight to high streets, as these spaces are reinvented as playgrounds for 5 ‘workers’ who end up showering themselves and audience in confetti, ribbons and streamers.
Joyous Urban Mess was presented in Leicester, Birmingham and Coventry in August.
Light Piano 2.0 XL
Created by Dutch artist collective Kleurbleur, Light Piano 2.0 XL is both a work of art and an instrument. The cubes in this spatial installation are connecting to the keys of a piano, allowing participants to not only play the piano but also to play the light. Local pianists from across the community will perform a diverse range of live pieces, the resulting experience resonating with the ears, the eyes and the heart.
Light Piano 2.0 XL was presented in Liverpool in October and November.
Sharing The Light
Sharing the Light in Becontree: since 2006, DUNDU have brought joy and inspiration to people around the world through their illuminated puppets. DUNDU means ‘you and you’ in German, and the company connects participants and audiences through tales of togetherness.
DUNDU will be Sharing the Light in Becontree exactly one hundred years after the first homes on the estate were completed. Together with an array of illuminated Big Heads representing local heroes of the past and present, DUNDU will lead a celebratory winter lantern parade and event.
DUNDU was presented in Barking and Dagenham in November.
The welfare of artists, audiences and participants is always paramount and Global Streets partners will be reviewing government advice to inform the scheduling of the 2021 programme. Please do check this webpage for further updates.
The Global Streets story so far
Since 2015, the 12 partners of Global Streets have brought 87 performances of 29 different international productions to high streets and public spaces across England, reimagining them as accessible outdoor theatres for which nobody needs a ticket. The programme has reached 341,000 audience members and participants to date, connecting and strengthening local communities through unforgettable international experiences in the great outdoors. A further 216,500 people actively engaged with artistic content through an enhanced digital programme in 2020.
• 40% of Global Streets audiences were low arts engagers, compared to 17% in national audiences
• 76% of Global Streets audiences were low or mid arts engagers, compared to 63% in national audiences
• 78% said Global Streets events have made them proud of their local area
• 49% said Global Streets events have helped them understand people from other cultures
• 69% say Global Streets events have helped them to feel connected to other people in the audience
• 70% say Global Streets events have changed their expectations of how British high streets and public spaces can bring people together