Carnival of the Bold is a festival and a movement of social change being held as part of the Changemakers Festival this year to drive deeper engagement around social causes.
Co-founders Kevin Bathman and Zara Choy, from the not-for-profit communications consultancy Coalition of Mischief, devised the event to highlight artists whose work has enabled social change and bring social issues into the mainstream agenda.
Carnival of the Bold aims to inspire and awaken greater public consciousness through interdisciplinary art events, exhibitions, forums, films and visual arts by extending on initiatives like Amnesty International’s Art for Amnesty; a global project which uses art to create social and political awareness and promote change.
Amnesty’s global initiative brings together high-profile artists, musicians, actors and arts organisations who believe in human rights to add their voices and talents to positive action campaigns. An example of such is actor Patrick Stewart’s support of Amnesty’s Stop Violence Against Women campaign.
Carnival of the Bold also wants to harness the identified power that the arts has to influence social change and address issues such as sustainability, poverty and human rights with its one-day festival that has one major difference.
“Our idea for Carnival of the Bold is about not only promoting awareness for one cause or campaign. It’s more about long-term change through arts,” says festival co-director Zara Choy.
“Artists bring interesting and unique perspectives into the mix and engage with audiences in new and different ways,” continues co-director Kevin Bathman.
Choy’s background is web development and qualitative market research and Bathman has a background in advertising and marketing. Together they established the Coalition of Mischief, a social enterprise providing communications and marketing for social causes.
“We are interested in multicultural issues as well as the underdog,” says Choy.
As the Coalition of Mischief, they have worked on a range of campaigns from addressing racial disharmony in Malaysia and Singapore through to cooperative housing in New South Wales.
Carnival of the Bold aims to bring important issues into the mainstream and raise public consciousness with a program they have developed featuring eight leading creative artists with a conscience.
One of these artists is 75-year-old African-American storyteller, Andreea Kindryd. She is the co-ordinator of The Glebe Stories, stories by long-time residents and recent arrivals of the inner-city suburb and her home.
As a young woman Kindryd was involved in the African-American Civil Rights movement, fighting against racial segregation and discrimination in the 60s. She knew Martin Luther King and was friends with Malcolm X.
Kindryd started storytelling later in life as a way of keeping the connection to her family history alive for her grandchildren. It’s the seemingly small act of storytelling that she says facilitates social change.
“My idea is that world peace begins at home, it begins with ourselves, with the people we love – our family.”
She believes that through talking and sharing stories, differences can be understood and conflicts resolved.
“If you can understand your immediate environment and those closest to you, including yourself, you will have compassion for the whole world. All of the other artist joining me on stage do that in their own way.”
Other artists include; Indigenous artist and activist The Blak Douglas aka Adam Hill, drag-queen and political satirist Simon Hunt aka Pauline Pantsdown whose single I Don’t Like It parodied One Nation leader Pauline Hanson in 1998.
Storyteller and writer Mickey Leung addresses sustainable tourism as a pillar of economic growth and poverty alleviation in Bangladesh. Slam poet and political ecologist, Chris Wright and children’s book author, illustrator and speaker, Melanie Lee will also attend.
How can a one-day festival, or more accurately a three-hour event, have a meaningful and measurable impact on current social issues and inspire lasting change?
“This is a pilot program,” says Choy.
“What we are hoping to do is attract other artists to Carnival of the Bold and build a large directory and network of artists and changemakers.”
Carnival of the Bold proposes to catalyse future change by increasing the visibility of artists whose work already addresses social change, increase the community base by conducting more forums, workshops, exhibitions as well as creating an online directory and platform.
The festival organisers believe the arts can play a more active part in bringing disparate groups together by providing new perspectives, approaches and narratives for the common good.
“Social entrepreneurship exists in silos and there isn’t really a cross-sector group so it’s an untapped opportunity. We’re hoping that Carnival of the Bold will become a new model and a movement,” concludes Choy.
The festival organisers see Carnival of the Bold as a cross between The Festival of Dangerous Ideas, the street art festival Outpost and TED Talks but only time will tell how wide-spread the impact and effect of their event will be as a catalyst for social change. (CN)
Carnival of the Bold, Nov 9, New Theatre, 542 King Street Newtown, $35, carnivalofthebold.eventbrite.com.au