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Nelly Ben Hayoun announces £1 million of funding for young creatives for Tour de Moon festival

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Tour de Moon logo

Designer Nelly Ben Hayoun has called for contributions to Tour de Moon, a touring event that will see up to £1 million of bursaries awarded to young creatives as part of the government-funded Unboxed: Creativity in the UK festival.

Nightlife artists, performers, digital artists, musicians and writers aged 18 to 25 are among those being invited to submit ideas for the immersive live events, which will be funded by up to 875 bursaries worth between £100 and £25,000.

The theme and title for the project is Tour de Moon, with organisers saying the concept takes “inspiration from our universal satellite – the Moon, seen as a character, a landscape and a prompt for radical imagination”.

Ben Hayoun‘s team was one of 10 commissioned to run large public projects for Unboxed: Creativity in the UK, formerly known as Festival UK* 2022 and nicknamed the Festival of Brexit.

Focus on night-time culture

Submissions of ideas for the live events, which will run next year, are open until 6 January 2022 to young creatives both in the UK and abroad.

According to Ben Hayoun, the brief has been kept deliberately broad, with suggested examples including a music score incorporating sounds of the galaxy, a film exploring humankind’s relationship with the moon, a DJ performance or an online experience.

There will be a focus on night-time culture, while the project aims to showcase a wide range of young creative voices.

Moon Experience costume
Top: a digital render of the Tour de Moon parade by Benjamin Mehigan. Above: a digital render of an example costume for Tour de Moon by Ben Wheele

“Tour de Moon travels with the night, seeking new beginnings, to empower others to create, to initiate, to innovate with new thinking and pluralistic practices so that history does not repeat itself on and beyond Earth,” said Ben Hayoun, who is directing the programme of events.

“In this cosmic night-time adventure, the Moon is both character and landscape, in permanent transformation and flux, to ignite radical imagination.”

Ben Hayoun previously founded NASA‘s International Space Orchestra and has collaborated with philosopher Noam Chomsky and Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot among others.

Her work has frequently touched on the themes of subverting power structures and challenging institutions.

Events will take place across the UK in summer 2022 including four-day stints in Leicester, Newcastle and Southampton and are expected to involve collaborations with local venues such as bars and cinemas.

Tour de Moon has struck up partnerships with science and educational institutions, including NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute, the African Astronomical Society and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, so that successful applicants can collaborate with top scientists and thinkers.

Bursaries will be awarded across eight programming strands incorporating music, film, writing, sports, discussion groups and events both online and offline.

“Festival of Brexit”

One of the strands, the “UK Moon Convoy”, will be a parade of floats and vehicles through towns across the country travelling between Leicester, Newcastle and Southampton.

A Tour de Moon advisory board made up of scientists, nightlife workers and creatives will select successful bursary applicants and help to organise their events, while a panel of young reports will monitor the programme to ensure it maintains its commitments on issues such as social and racial justice.

The idea for a festival celebrating creativity in Great Britain and Northern Ireland was initially conceived by Theresa May’s government in 2018 and has since been allocated £120 million in funding from the four governments across the UK.

Digital render of parade
A digital render of a Moon Convoy parade by Benjamin Mehigan

Some dubbed the project “the Festival of Brexit” because of the timing of its announcement as the UK negotiated its departure from the EU. London architecture studio Assemble will also be running a project as part of the festival.

Unboxed: Creativity in the UK and its programme is run by an independent company based in Birmingham and led by events producer Martin Green.

Thumbnail graphic of Tour de Moon logo is by Manana Kobakhidze and Sebastian Koseda

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