In this time of cumulative crises, our communities are facing harms and forms of breakdown that are political in nature but often not addressed this way. How can we dismantle the structures that keep this a reality, building community-based structures of care, health and healing in their place?
Using art, organising and culture to encourage imagination, Rehearsing Freedoms festival cultivated the exchange of critical ideas, knowledges and practices. Creating spaces to address structural violence and intergenerational trauma, while sustaining our movements as we build towards collective liberation.
Bringing people together
From loved ones to community to some of our biggest inspirations, Rehearsing Freedoms was graced by thousands of wonderful friends and comrades. The festival brought in over 5000 registrations, with attendees and practitioners from groups like RESOLVE Collective, IWGB, Copwatch and No More Exclusions.
Health justice cannot exist under settler colonialism
At this time of devastating genocidal violence against Palestinians, we were able to mobilise our capacity to connect our shared struggles & orient sessions towards collective liberation.
Narrative Building for Bold & Powerful Movements and The State of Islamophobia & the Problem with the Muslim Mind were amongst the panel discussions that were pivoted towards this need.
Safety, belonging, dignity & collective futures
100+ practitioners and over 80 events of creative exploration, skill building, sharing of ideas, writing of new narratives, showcasing alternative knowledges, breaking bread together and imagining. Check out the playlist of videos:
Justice in our current times
We practiced to meet the scale, depth and complexity needed in this moment, including spaces to honour and grieve people who died in state custody and an exhibit to show resistance to welfare state violence.
During the festival, we launched the Deaths by Welfare timeline – a massive database of evidence showing how the disability benefits system creates life-threatening policies that lead to disabled people’s deaths.
Learning new skills and practices
As part of forging new ways of being and dreaming new worlds, experiments included politicised somatics, vocal healing, cooking, herbalism, Tai Chi, basket weaving, zine-making and much more.
Exploring and sharing knowledge
There were discussions, performances, community dinners and DJ sets. Panels and workshops covered themes including disability justice, prison abolition, cultural resistance, climate justice, decolonising healthcare and narrative change.
Stories of Rehearsing Freedoms
We were able to mobilise storytelling and culture as part of Rehearsing Freedoms to shape understanding of this work. Organising, film, strategic communications, journalism as part of narrative change.
“The thing I found particularly special was the care taken by individuals to make connections with human beings on personal levels. That is something that is often brushed over in work and some collective settings and I believe it is fundamental to building community. It was amazing to witness people finding deep love and family in connections they had made, and it was the first time I had experienced that since being in London.”
“Oceans of love and gratitude to HJL for this medicine. For your vision, care, audacity. For staying with the trouble. Rehearsing Freedoms was the balm my soul needed”
We’re honoured to have grieved, danced, strategised, built and practiced with so many of you during this festival and beyond.
Rehearsing Freedoms has been an opportunity to strengthen our commitments to movement-building and cultural strategy. To show how our communities and movements can organise and demonstrate care in heartbreaking present contexts while building towards vibrant futures of collective liberation.
We remain in the thick of global fights for justice, and continue to make the struggle sustainable through moving together, skill building, and finding discernment in our responses to crisis. It’s a complex picture, but this is the scale and depth of the work that we think this moment demands.