New online arts festival ‘DISRUPT’ is launched

Born out of the COVID-19 pandemic, DISRUPT will reimagine the role of the arts in our society.

DISRUPT is a new digital arts festival, taking place virtually on 8-9 July 2021, co-ordinated by Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Barbican in partnership with, Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance, Culture Mile, Lived Experience Network, Maya Productions, and Slung Low. The festival has been created in response to the global pandemic, and aims to explore the ways in which COVID-19 has intensified socio-economic inequalities, deprivation, and isolation. With a programme of discussions, panels and workshops across two days, DISRUPT will lift the lid on the ways the performing arts can support communities during this time and how a year of uncertainty and change has encouraged new and radical ways of working.

Sean Gregory, Director of Innovation and Engagement, Barbican & Guildhall School of Music & Drama says:

‘Barbican, Guildhall School and the rest of the partners are really excited to be launching DISRUPT. The arts are better placed than ever to shine a light on the growing inequalities experienced by society, but are the creative and social imperatives of our cultural organisations fit for purpose in meeting these people and community-based needs? With long-standing, established ‘ways of doing things’ increasingly being challenged over the past year, it now feels the right time to convene a festival where we can all ‘listen and learn’ from each other. Above all, we genuinely hope DISRUPT can have a positive impact on the processes and structures through which organisations, artists and communities collaborate, thereby creating a more open, inclusive, and democratic partnership ecology for the future.’

The festival is the host platform that invites us to listen and decide collectively how to respond and change. DISRUPT aims to explore new or different ways of working in the performing arts, including practical steps on how communities, artists and organisations can collaborate more equally, while considering more democratic futures for the performing arts sector.

Over the two days, there will be discussions, performances, panels and workshops exploring themes such as motherhood and parenting during lockdown; the increase in domestic violence; the complexities of communicating with loved ones via Zoom; the impact on mental health; and what people would like to keep from the pandemic as we move into recovery, and much more.

The programme has been created entirely from open submissions and selected by a panel of 14 community members and artists. The festival brings together creatives, artists, communities, cultural and community organisations, researchers, charities, schools, and members of the general public, harnessing collective learnings from a difficult year and to reimagine the role of the arts in our societies. Please be aware that DISRUPT will address distressing themes such as suicide and domestic abuse.

Tickets are available on a pay-what-you-can basis, and full details of the festival line up will be announced in due course.

For more information visit


Did you find this resource useful?

As a registered charity we are only able to continue to provide the information and resources found on this site if we continue to receive charitable donations and grants. If you found this resource useful, then please consider donating.