‘Open-mindedness’ and open discussion encouraged at this Sheffield festival

The Festival of Debate returns to Sheffield for its fifth year this year, bringing with it over 90 public events in what is the biggest event of its kind.

By Rochelle Barrand
Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 9:43 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 9:48 am
The Guilty Feminist will be performing at The Festival of Debate in Sheffield.
The Guilty Feminist will be performing at The Festival of Debate in Sheffield.

The Festival of Debate 2019 programme features acclaimed podcaster The Guilty Feminist, environmental activists George Monbiot and George Marshall, broadcaster Afua Hirsch, radio presenter James O’Brien, economist Paul Mason and famed poet Roger McGough.

Sam Walby, programmer and producer at Festival of Debate, said: “In recent years, we have witnessed our democratic structures and systems of government stretched beyond breaking point.

“While it’s easy to see this fragmented battleground as frightening and without hope, it’s also a fantastic time to be exploring many of these issues, because once the dust settles, we will need new ideas more than ever.

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“We hope Festival of Debate 2019 goes some way towards encouraging discussion, open-mindedness and active citizenship in Sheffield.”

Running from Friday, April 19, the Festival of Debate will also feature a wide range of smaller events delivered in association with over 60 partner organisations, from talks, panel discussions and workshops to film screenings, spoken word and stand-up comedy, all exploring ideas around society and politics.

For the first time the Festival will also include three ‘hub days’, day-long events comprised of a number of smaller sessions exploring three of this year’s key strands - Our Democracy, Our Planet and Living Together - and concluding with a larger performance or public event.

This year’s event follows on from the success of 2018's festival, which saw appearances from Yanis Varoufakis, Ed Miliband and Reni Eddo-Lodge among many others explore, debate and discuss the key political and social issues of our time.

The festival was launched in the lead-up to the General Election in 2015 with a view to provoking thought and discussion as the nation went to the ballot box.

It aims to combat political apathy by ensuring its events are led by the issues, rather than by party politics, which is so often divisive.

Previous festivals have led to the creation of new voluntary groups in the city, including UBI Lab Sheffield, a group of campaigners and activists making the case for a pilot of ‘Universal Basic Income’.