With so many issues of hate crime and little reports of it, Manchester Metropolitan University made it their mission to try and put a stop to it.
From the 12th -14th of October the University put on an event called “Arts Festival 2018” in celebration of all that unities their community as well as challenge beliefs and attitudes that can lead to discrimination and division. Below was there manifesto:
“Manchester is renowned for combatting violence with positivity and unity. Be part of this diverse and resilient city’s movement to challenge perceptions through awareness and debate.”
Just a few days before Manchester Market Street by-passers were shocked to see two naked women covered in strawberry jam wiping the jam off each other with bread slices then eating it. Some said it was an expression of art and nothing bad came from it others were horrified. The woman were later asked to cover up but were excused with no warnings or charges.
Louise Jones who works for Manchester met student support services said this when referring to this happening:
“From a uni perspective we do encourage freedom of speech and expression and it’s fine up until the point that it’s offensive or discriminatory- that’s where the uni draws the lines.
“When gathering work for this festival we had to ask ourselves what we would do if we received art that didn’t fit the code of conduct but it’s not always clear. It’s difficult but that’s why it’s a conversation we need to be having.
“It is easy to say ‘well I don’t like this’ or ‘I think this is offensive so we aren’t going to show it,’ but actually you need to ask yourself, is this something that maybe I don’t like or is it my cultural background or the way I’ve been brought up for not liking it.
“It is okay to be offended, you have a right to be offended, but is that just offended for the sake of being offended or is it really discriminative?”
This is why Louise hopes to raise an awareness of what hate crime is.
“I see too much normalization of racism, discrimination, and sexual harassment and assault, we need to educate the community what those things are by giving them clear definitions and then empowering the community to become activists to raise awareness of these issues that they are going through themselves or that others are going through and be able to know where they can report those issues”
What does art have to do with it?
“We wanted students to use it as something cathartic, or as an outlet to put their spin on anything that they might have seen or had happened to them.
“We didn’t want it to be too gloom and doom and three days of traumatic discussion would have been too much.
“Providing them with an art festival was a positive way for them to express themselves. It also gives those viewing the art an opportunity to think about diversity and equality and maybe an imagined future
“Hopefully it will help people viewing these exhibitions to think about their own actions or what has happened to them as a result.”
What power does art have?
“In 2017 we had a very traumatic event happen with the bombing of the arena during the Ariana Grande concert and we saw a big response that brought our city to come together.
“It was the music, the graffiti, and the tattoos- generally, the beautiful art that was developed from that. I think that’s what inspired this event.”
What do you hope for the future?
“Within all my work- this arts festival being the biggest thing- I want to give a voice to people who don’t have a voice or help them use it if they don’t know how. On our last count 632 people were at the festival and that’s a big achievement to me.”