Hope that you are well
The Diversity Festival is back again this year with some exciting activities planned but before we look at the plans for the future we would like to take you on our journey.
The Rotherham Diversity Festival is more than 20 years old and has been a key component to the Rotherham Show. It was forged from RMBC’s work with protected characteristic communities with the growing need for representation, celebration and education. The festival has maintained these principals to this day. The festival was community led and worked with the BME VCS initially providing 2 days of cultural content.
Through demand from communities and the growing need for ownership with support from REMA at the time led by the now Cllr Yasseen the Diversity Festival was handed over to the community.
Continued support from RMBC through One Town One Community and the Equalities team supported its ongoing work.
The festival has been on a long exciting colourful journey with community ownership being key.
It incorporated faith into the festival some 15 years ago and expanded over the years to work with LGBTQ+ and now more recently prioritise disability. However all have had a presence for some time.
The festival gives communities ownership.
The festival is purely community led with the key infrastructure support from REMA and ROAR bringing art and communities together as lead.
The festival is fundamentally designed, delivered and developed by communities from protected characteristics.
It uses art as a vehicle of engagement and an enabler.
Over the last 5 years the festival was hit hard by the impact of austerity and the loss of the arts officers within RMBC. Funding became harder and harder to obtain but the festival continues to this day due to the will of the community for it to happen.
The festival allows community groups to fund raise within the area which are vital reserves needed for volunteer led community organisations
It is for some groups their only engagement into the show.
It is viewed from communities as a safe space that is for them.
The festival has never wanted to sit in isolation but wants to retain its independance. It accumulates hundreds of volunteer hours led by hard working members of the community. It actively sources funding and support and has a strong political will.
Due to the ongoing hate agenda and the threat of the far right the festivals importance is vital.
The Diversity festival has led the way in opening people up to other cultures and experiences.
Creative community chaos at its best.
The work across the protected characteristic communities has been vital with them stood together in support with each other. Many would not access the show without the support of the Festival and the communities that make it happen.
Feedback remains generally positive and community will alive.
The festival shows positive representation of protected characteristic communities from volunteers to performers or workshop delivery and helps challenge unhelpful attitudes and narratives
The steering group is made up of an extensive representative group who are now this year back with a bang.
We will be releasing this years programme soon and are delighted to be in the biggest free show in the North.
If you would like to find out more information about us please contact Emma Sharp from REMA or Sharon Gill from ROAR.
Thanks for taking the time to read