Longbridge Light Festival: 2014 & 16

LLF 16: ‘Very Civil’ Rights March

Protest Parade 2016: ‘Very Civil’ Rights March

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter

Our interest in the private / public politics of the new Longbridge town centre continued in 2016 when we were invited by WERK to create a parade for the 2016 Longbridge Light Festival. Jumping on the 2016 global protest bandwagon, we decided to try and bring a touch of mild 1960s idealism to the festival with a protest orientated parade – a ‘very civil’ rights march.

Taking its name from a Martin Luther King quote – ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter’ – the parade featured local community groups and school children marching with banners and holding placards. Over 200 people took part on the night for the torch lit parade with its own musical ‘protest’ soundtrack performed by the 9-piece brass band The Young Pilgrims . Whilst being informed by the local areas historical context of protest, we were as interested in how local people might use the festival as a space for having their voice heard within this very top down environment.

The staging of a public protest within the context of a light festival also continued our interest in how the ‘community parade’ – a cliché of the light festival format – could be re-worked as a quietly political artwork. Some of the groups taking part used the event as an opportunity to protest publicly against austerity measures directly affecting them. These included CASBA campaigning against cuts to the mental health service and Frankley Library taking a stand against cuts to community libraries.