Press Office

Freedom City wins

Freedom City 2017 and Visual Artist win culture awards

Published on: 24 May 2018

Freedom City 2017 has won Best Overall Event and Fine Art PhD student, Narbi Price, has won best Visual Artist in culture awards announced last night.

The city-wide programme commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King being given an honorary degree by Newcastle University, was voted by the public as the Best Event (Tyneside) 2017 in the Journal Culture awards, celebrating the best of North East arts and cultures. Freedom City 2017 then went on to win Best Overall Event. 

Artists, musicians, academics and performers from around the world joined with communities across Newcastle and Gateshead to be part of the year-long Freedom City 2017 programme.

In total, 54 events at 37 venues across Tyneside took place as part of Freedom City 2017, including Freedom on the Tyne - a unique day-long performance across the streets of Newcastle and Gateshead that re-told some of the stories related to the global struggle for civil rights. The spectacle culminated in the gathering of 5,000 people on the Tyne Bridge to commemorate the courage and sacrifice of those that have led the long march for social justice and equality.

Throughout the year, a varied range of theatre productions, exhibitions, educational programmes, performances and academic debate all aimed to inspire a new generation to contribute towards tackling the problems of war, poverty and racism that Dr King talked about in his honorary degree acceptance speech in 1967. 

Image of Martin Luther King projected onto Newcastle University's Students' Union building
An image of Dr King projected onto the Students' Union for Freedom City 2017
Tyne bridge 2 Suffragettes Selma arches Boilerhouse Monument Tyne Bridge

Unique performance

Freedom on the Tyne brought together communities and professional artists to tell stories related the global struggle for civil rights

Proud tradition of civil rights protest

A group representing the Suffragettes joined the Jarrow Marchers, miners, and modern day protests for equality and social justice.

The struggle for civil rights

'The Turning of Martin Luther King' depicted events linked to the march to Selma in 1965, led by Dr King

Civil rights debate

Civil rights activists debate the best course of action as part of 'The Turning of Martin Luther King' story

A city comes together

Each of the Freedom on the Tyne stories spilled out onto the streets of Newcastle city centre.

Spectacular finale

As darkness fell, thousands gathered on the Tyne Bridge for the epic finale of Freedom on the Tyne.

‘Memorable and thought-provoking’

Professor Richard Davies, Chair of the Freedom City 2017 steering group, said: “This award is recognition of the hard work and dedication of all the communities, artists, academics, students and partners who contributed to Freedom City 2017.

“The past year has seen many memorable and thought-provoking moments as we remembered Dr King’s visit to Newcastle and his inspiring and powerful acceptance speech. From moving performances and exhibitions to the truly unforgettable Freedom on the Tyne, the fact that Freedom City 2017 was the public choice for Best Event vividly demonstrates the impact that Dr King continues to have today.”

The legacy of a dream

Each project in the Freedom City 2017 programme was developed with legacy in mind as a way to contribute to the ongoing struggle against war, poverty and racism that Dr King spoke of during his speech at Newcastle University.  Inspired by Dr King, partners involved in the Freedom City 2017 programme are now working to improve their practices in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion. 

For example, among other activities, Newcastle University is currently appointing a new Dean of Social Justice who will lead a programme of activity to ensure that social justice is at the heart of research, teaching and professional practice across the University.

The new Dean will work alongside the Dean of Diversity to promote an improved culture of equal opportunity across the University’s processes and decision-making to help develop a fully inclusive University community. 

Further Success - Visual Artist of the Year

Further success at the awards saw PhD Student Narbi Price winning Visual Artist of the Year. The Fine Art student in the School of Arts and Cultures has new exhibition opening at Woodhorn Museum in Northumberland tomorrow (Sat).

Called "Ashington Paintings", it developed from Narbi’s PhD research into the story, materials and methods of the Ashington Group of artists also known as the Pitmen Painters. The work explores the changing landscape of Ashington, once known as the world’s ‘Biggest Mining Village’, and the place that provided the inspiration for the Pitmen Painters’ work.

The paintings offer a glimpse at the stories of Ashington’s industrial past, now obscured behind redevelopment and modernisation. 

"I'm very happy to have won the award for Visual Artist of the Year," said Narbi. "The exhibition that I was nominated for, This Must Be the Place at Vane, was the culmination of four year's work and I have been delighted with the reception it's had. Now, to decide if the award will go on the bookshelf in the studio or on the mantle at home."

Images by North News & Pictures and Richard Kenworthy, courtesy of Newcastle Gateshead Initiative. 

Narbi Price collects his Journal Culture Award for Best Visual Artist. Photograph by Simon Greener for The Journal

Latest News