A group of Sussex students have organised a festival that aims to highlight and capture the solidarity that has brought communities together in the fight against COVID-19.

Set to take place on July 25 and 26, the Covidarity Festival aims to also highlight the deep-rooted inequalities in society that have been exposed by the pandemic.

Whilst acknowledging this moment the festival is concerned with change, as organiser and MA Development Studies student, Lisa Trebs explains:

“The idea for the Covidarity Festival emerged, while a group of friends at the University of Sussex followed the news on the pandemic.

“We gradually understood the effects of this health crisis and were concerned about the exposure of embedded inequalities. 

“While everyone could infect oneself with the virus, certain groups are disproportionately affected due to their systemic marginalisation.

“In times of crisis, those conditions are exacerbated. For this reason, it is time to build back, and to build back better.”

When asked about what this new normal should look like, Lisa said:

“Even though we have values based on justice, equity, sustainability, feminism, anti-racism and intersectionality, the festival team tries to avoid dictating a dominant idea about a new normal. 

“Instead, we’d like to be a space that amplifies the voices of activists and artists, and those who’d like to become the change makers of the future.”

With life as we knew it put on hold for an indefinite amount of time, for some a return to normality is all that’s wanted, but for the Covidarity Festival this period presents an invaluable opportunity to tackle inequality and celebrate unity.

On the progress that can be made, Lisa said:

“Creating an understanding for embedded inequalities within our system is the first step. Working against the norm can be exhausting and going back to normal will be the most comfortable pathway to choose. 

“However, we believe that the current discourse, and the continuous economic and social effects of the pandemic, provide a motivating environment to act and change the status quo, instead of falling back to old behaviours and clusters.”

The weekend, which it is hoped will only be the start of a reshaping of the future, consists of a series of workshops where participants are encouraged to collaborate in shaping ideas for society’s progress, as well as talks from organisations and activist groups addressing the hardships that have been faced during the crisis.

The festival is open to contributors looking to exhibit an art representation or facilitate discussion through hosting a talk or workshop, as well as to people just looking to participate in the events that have already been organised.

For more information about the festival and to find out how you can get involved click here.

Photo Credit: Karim Lemond

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