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    Fairtrade Connections arts festival

    Wednesday, 16 December 2020  |  Joanna

    Fairtrade Connections arts festival

    Last March I met Rosine, a cocoa farmer from Cote d'Ivoire, when she came to visit York as part of a UK tour organised by the Fairtrade Foundation. Shortly after, the country went into lockdown, meaning that Rosine is one of the last people I hugged. 

    Fairtrade Fortnight is the most important time of the fair trade campaigners' calendar, and while the rollout of vaccines has been a great success, it's become clear that we can expect the virus to still be affecting our activities until at least the autumn. That means Fairtrade Fortnight with its usual programme of stalls, fairs, coffee mornings, religious services and "Meet the Producer" events has to be very different in 2021. 

    But I'm not one to be deterred, and flush with the success of the Fairtrade Yorkshire virtual conference, and with lots of new friends made during the campaign to keep KitKat Fairtrade, I had an idea to thank and inspire all the amazing fair trade supporters and campaigners who supported the campaign and have been promoting and supporting Fairtrade for many years. I wanted to organise a programme of online events that everyone would be invited to share in, a community arts festival.

    I spoke to lots of groups from Scotland, Wales, London and the South West as well as national campaign groups, BAFTS members and the Fairtrade Foundation and the plan started to form. The theme for the whole of Fairtrade Fortnight is "Choose The World You Want" and has a focus on climate change and the impact on Fairtrade farmers and workers in low income countries.

    The vision was of three main events - focused on visual arts, spoken word and music - and a number of "fringe" events which would be more interactive - craft and dance workshops, cook-alongs etc. 

    I have been blown away by the support I've had from groups and supporters and already - with around ten weeks to go - the festival is taking shape.

    We have a great programme of events lined up.

    Fairtrade Connections Arts Festival Programme

    Monday 22 February 12 - 1pm

    Let us take you to Palestine. Meet the makers of Hadeel's gorgeous Palestinian crafts with this - the first in a fortnightly series of virtual tours of their workshops.

    This first tour takes you to the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children in Gaza. You will learn the story of the project, how they work and the impact on their artisans, and watch them create beautiful traditional crafts LIVE.

    This event is sponsored by Edinburgh Fairtrade City


    Monday 22 February - 4.30 - 6pm

    Caribbean chef Euten Lindsay will host a cook-along. Euten was caught up in the Windrush scandal

    Download Euten's recipes here:




    This event is sponsored by Pocklington FLAG (Fairtrade and Local Produce Action Group)


    Wednesday 24 February 6-7pm

    Join acclaimed photographer Sean Hawkey as he shares some of the incredible images in his latest book, Faces of Fairtrade. Sean visited Fairtrade farmers across the world and his photos reflect their fascinating lives.

    Sean Hawkey has spent his working life in aid, development and human rights advocacy and has spent the last ten years as a journalist working across 70 countries. He is currently focusing on long-term projects in Honduras and Mexico, looking at climate change, governance and migration and he frequently undertakes assignments for Fairtrade organisations. Last year he published a photographic book called Faces of Fairtrade, a compilation of his photographs from assignments across the world.

    Sean says:

    "Farmers and producers are ordinarily treated with contempt in trade, if we believe in justice and being fair to other people then we must push together - as a movement - for better conditions and deals for them. That's what Fairtrade does, and that's why I support it."

    You can read more about Sean's work on his website: Click here.

    This event is sponsored by York Fair Trade Forum


    Thursday 25 February 4-5pm

    Fly The Fairtrade Flag With fairandfunky!

    Join fairandfunky for a creative workshop, and make your very own Fairtrade mark!

    If you're booking this event with children, why not also book the Fairtrade Taskmaster event on 27 February - you'll see why!


    Friday 26 February - 7-8pm

    Join Ghanaian musician Richard Wiafe - who works at the Fairtrade fruit project Golden Exotics who will share his music and answer questions about his life. Richard's university studies are funded through the Fairtrade Premium.

    Watch video about Golden Exotics

    Read this article in the Independent about how Brexit is threatening imports of Golden Exotics Fairtrade bananas to the UK.

    Richard says: 

    "Lack of financial support almost made me give up education, until I was employed at Golden Exotics as a farm hand. I realised that I could get support from there, through the Fairtrade premium and am studying Bsc.in Integrated Development Studies. I actually want to become a Human Right activist/advocate

    I discovered my potential/talent in music at an early age when I began to write and perform local Gospel songs but never recorded them due to financial constraints. As soon as I was employed at Golden Exotics I heard of Fairtrade and decided to learn much about it, at a point I decided to interrogate some of the workers in the company who are the beneficiaries of the Fairtrade premium, The response from them and the projects the Fairtrade premium committee had undertaken with the premium money inspired me to write and record my first song "Welcome Fairtrade". Subsequently I've written and recorded new songs titled "Choose the world you want" and "We stand with farmers". These songs are to support the upcoming Fairtrade Fortnight Festival in the UK with (Fairtrade Yorkshire Co-ordinator) Joanna Pollard who has been a blessing and a motivation ever since we knew each other.

    I want to use my music as a tool to influence consumers of Fairtrade products and all stakeholders involved to inform them that the premium workers are receiving is being used for a good cause. It is my dream to work with Fairtrade to push this agenda far and make a reality. I have more songs to write and record for Fairtrade."

    This event is sponsored by Bradford Fairtrade Zone


    Saturday 27 February - 11-12am

    Fairtrade Taskmaster - Join us for a Saturday morning of Fairtrade themed silliness.

    This event will be fun for all the family. Compete against other families and win Fairtrade prizes.

    If you're booking this event with children we recommend you also book the Fly The Fairtrade Flag workshop on 25 February - you'll find out why!

    This event is sponsored by Good Taste - The Sheffield Fair Trade Shop


    Monday 1 March 4.30-6pm

    Cook along with former Bake Off contestant Sandy Docherty

    Join Sandy who will share her recipe for Meat Balls in Spicy Tomato Sauce using ingredients from Fair Trade supplier JTS

    Sandy says:

    “I love the opportunity to share my passion with the public, baking and cooking have a universal language. I’m inspired by the public and thrive on their feedback and comments.  Fair trade, what a fabulous phrase, wouldn’t it be amazing if everything in life were fair? But we know that Fair Trade is exactly that, It means to me that hard working farmers and workers receive fair trade and payment for what they produce, it supports their families, their pride and helps them build a future. What do I get in return? I get an exciting range of products, the highest quality ingredients and ultimately dishes that meet and surpass in flavour and value. ”

    This event is sponsored by Fairtrade Leeds.


    Wednesday 3 March 4-5.30

    Join a chocolate truffle making workshop with David Greenwood Haigh, an award winning chef, chocolatier and international chocolate consultant of Coeur de Xocolat.

    David says: I think I have the best job in the world travelling training people to make bean to bar chocolate and chocolate products, whilst helping to develop eco tourism and stimulating additional revenue in origin. And trying to elevate the gamers up the value chain.
    But chocolate isn't just a treat or a sweet indulgence. It's an safari of the senses, that can take you across continents and into the heart of a narrative that reaches back for millennia.
    It's a story of distant shores, of discovery and adventure. It's a story of of intrigue and political drama. It's a story of progress, of enterprise and science. Most of all, it's a story of passion - a passion that has conquered the world, and which continues to bring people together on a shared, delicious journey.

    This event is sponsored by Bury Fairtrade


    Thursday 4 March 11am

    Join Bruce Crowther MBE in conversation with Kirklees Libraries Writer in Residence Christina Longden talking about his new memoir "Not in my lifetime – a Fair Trade campaigner’s Journal". The book takes in Bruce's adventures in fair trade and in particular his connections with the International Fair Trade Towns movement which he was instrumental in founding.

    Bruce will talk about his approach to writing the book and his life in fair trade.

    Watch Bruce's video to find out more.


    Friday 5 March - 12 -1pm

    Fairtrade in a time of covid - Join Immaculate Ochieno and Kodzo Korkortsi, Shared Interest's local managers who deal direct with producers in East and West Africa to find out how Fairtrade is supporting women's empowerment and helping producers survive and thrive through covid.

    This event is sponsored by York Fair Trade Forum and Skipton Fairtrade Initiative

    Book now via eventbrite

    Friday 5 March - 6.30-7.30pm


    Welsh poets Zoë Brigley Thompson and Kristian Evans, editors of "100 Poems to Save the Earth" will read from this life-afforming anthology which is due to be published in Spring 2021 by Seren Books.

    Zoë Brigley has three PBS recommended poetry collections: The Secret (2007), Conquest (2012), and Hand & Skull (2019) (all published by Bloodaxe). She also published the nonfiction essays Notes from a Swing State (2019). She recently published a chapbook, Aubade After A French Movie (Broken Sleep 2020), and in 2021, she will publish another chapbook, Into Eros, with Verve. She runs an anti-violence advocacy podcast: Sinister Myth: How Stories We Tell Perpetuate Violence. She won an Eric Gregory Award for the best British poets under 30, was Forward Prize commended, and listed in the Dylan Thomas Prize. She is co-editor (with Kristian Evans) of the forthcoming anthology 100 Poems to Save the Earth. She works as an Assistant Professor in English at the Ohio State University.

    Zoe says

    "For me, maintaining fair trade is about recognizing our interconnectedness in the world. It is far too easy to exploit labour in countries that are not our own, when we do not see the immediate and heartbreaking consequences of that. If we could raise the global standard of living it would have such a strong and immediate impact for us all, in fact on the climate crisis itself. But more than that fair trade is just the right thing to do."

    Kristian Evans is a poet and environmentalist interested in deep ecology. He is the author of Unleaving (Happenstance), and the online series A Kenfig Journal for Sustainable Wales. Together with Zoe Brigley, he is editing the forthcoming anthology, 100 Poems to Save the Earth (Seren 2021) and a special issue of Magma Poetry 79 on Dwelling (with Rob Mackenzie). You can see their articles about ecologies and poetry at Planet, Poetry Wales, and Wales Arts Review, as well as in a film on dwelling made in cooperation with Planet:  They have a co-written non-fiction chapbook Otherworlds out from Broken Sleep in 2021.

    Kristian says:

    "Like most people, I want to know where the products I need come from, how they were made, and how the people involved were treated and paid. We are no longer willing to accept that exploitation is an inevitable part of the price of the things we buy.”

    They'll be joined by Yorkshire based Clare Shaw, who'll read from her third Bloodaxe collection "Flood" on the themes of this year's Fairtrade Fortnight - "Choose The World You Want" and "Fairtrade, Climate and You".

    Clare Shaw has three poetry collections with Bloodaxe - Straight AheadHead On and Flood: her forthcoming fourth collection was awarded a Northern Writer’s Award and will be published by Bloodaxe in 2022.

    As an Associate Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, Clare is responsible for establishing writing projects in workplaces across the UK. She is co-director of the Kendal Poetry Festival; and a regular tutor for the Poetry School, the Wordsworth Trust and the Arvon Foundation.

    In her various roles as a writer, librettist, project leader and mental health trainer, she works with a wide range of organisations: these currently include the Royal Academy of Music, St Mungo’s Community Housing Association, and the BBC.


    “‘As a reader you cannot expect an easy time with Clare Shaw. She deals with the big subjects, war and conflict, violence and violation but also the subtler themes of language as a means of expression, identity and the difficulties of motherhood. She takes us to places we may be reluctant to go but more importantly she fixes her gaze on us and demands our attention and our involvement” (James Carruth, The North).

    This event is sponsored by Embsay with Eastby Fairtrade Group


    Saturday 6 March 11.30-1pm

    Get moving and learn Bollywood and Bhangra dancing with Avtar Panesar the host of our Indian dance workshop

    Find out more via Avtar's website

    Avtar says:

    Namaste! My name is Avtar. Having Indian parents means traditional curries have always been a big part of my life - delicious food, full of flavor and spice. Great food is one of life’s pleasures but when it is Fair food traded fairly, supporting global producers it enriches the heart, mind and soul.

    I grew up listening to Bhangra music legends and watching iconic Hindi Bollywood films (from colourful happy sing-a-longs to tragic melodramas). I now run Indian dance and Cultural Education sessions in the heart of the south west to keep me in touch with my roots and India’s rich culture.

    Join us for a fun, easy to follow dance-a-long to happy and expressive beats of India.

    Chalo Let’s Nacho! – Come on Let’s Dance!

    This event is sponsored by Warrington Fairtrade Steering Group



    Donate to our crowdfunder

    All our events are open to everyone and free to attend via Zoom. While most of our participants are generously giving their time, we know that some, especially those from marginalised communities, can't afford to do so. For this reason we're crowdfunding £500 to put the festival on. We're around half way there and would be grateful for anything you are able to donate. If you donate £20 or more you can become an official sponsor, and if you donate £50 or more you can choose to sponsor an individual event.

    Donate here 

    Fair trade is all about making connections, growing support for and knowledge of Fairtrade and fair trade. The fair trade community is so welcoming and supportive, and such great fun that this festival is sure to be a fantastic way to bring us all together virtually even when we can't meet in person.

    I can't wait to see you!