The relationship between the arts and activism is not a new one. William Morris’s Kelmscott Press, a leading light in the Arts and Crafts movement, was a direct response to industrialisation and the factory system. Dickens’ novels are not only beloved works of classic literature, but stark social commentaries that he coupled with fundraising and organising. Picasso’s 1937 painting Guernica is one of the most famous pieces of anti-war art ever produced. In Britain today, it feels the relationship between art and activism is closer than ever. Across the country, artists and creatives are using the arts and culture to tackle the big issues of our time.

Join the panel as they share how their work channels creativity to challenge, resist, and campaign on a range of urgent contemporary issues.

If you would like to book tickets to this event separately from the conference as a whole, please email

About The Chair

Anthony Anaxagorou headshot

Anthony Anaxagorou

Anthony Anaxagorou is a British-born Cypriot poet, fiction writer, essayist, publisher and poetry educator. His poetry has been published in POETRY, The Poetry Review, Poetry London, New Statesman, Granta, and elsewhere. His work has also appeared on BBC Newsnight, BBC Radio 4, ITV, Vice UK, Channel 4 and Sky Arts.  

His second collection After the Formalities published with Penned in the Margins is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and was shortlisted for the 2019 T.S Eliot Prize along with the 2021 Ledbury Munthe Poetry Prize for Second Collections. It was also a Telegraph and Guardian poetry book of the year.  

In 2020 he published How To Write It with Merky Books; a practical guide fused with tips and memoir looking at the politics of writing as well as the craft of poetry and fiction along with the wider publishing industry. 

He was awarded the 2019 H-100 Award for writing and publishing, and the 2015 Groucho Maverick Award for his poetry and fiction. In 2019 he was made an honorary fellow of the University of Roehampton. Anthony is artistic director of Out-Spoken, a monthly poetry and music night held at London’s Southbank Centre, and publisher of Out-Spoken Press.

His forthcoming poetry collection Heritage Aesthetics will be published by Granta in 2022. 

About The Speakers

Nikesh Shukla Headshot

Nikesh Shukla

Nikesh Shukla is a novelist and screenwriter. He is the author of Coconut Unlimited (shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award), Meatspace and the critically acclaimed The One Who Wrote Destiny. Nikesh is the editor of the bestselling essay collection, The Good Immigrant, which won the reader’s choice at the Books Are My Bag Awards. He co-edited The Good Immigrant USA with Chimene Suleyman. He is the author of two YA novels, Run, Riot (shortlisted for a National Book Award) and The Boxer (longlisted for the Carnegie Medal). Nikesh was one of Time Magazine’s cultural leaders, Foreign Policy magazine’s 100 Global Thinkers and The Bookseller’s 100 most influential people in publishing in 2016 and in 2017. He is the co-founder of the literary journal, The Good Journal and The Good Literary Agency. Nikesh is a fellow of the Royal Society Of Literature and a member of the Folio Academy. Nikesh’s new book, Brown Baby: A Memoir Of Race, Family And Home was released on Bluebird in February 2021. He is also the host of the Brown Baby Podcast. Nikesh’s latest book on writing craft, Your Story Matters, will also feature at the festival. 

Mona Eltahawy

Mona Eltahawy is an award-winning columnist and an international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues and global feminism. She is the author of Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution. Her commentaries have appeared in several publications and she is a regular guest analyst on various television and radio shows.

Black and White Photo of Alan Lane

Alan Lane

Alan Lane is Artistic Director of Slung Low, an award-winning theatre company based in the oldest surviving working men’s club in the UK. Slung Low specialise in making large scale productions in non-theatre spaces with community performers at their heart. During the Covid crisis, the company was the ward lead for social care referrals in Holbeck and Beeston, nearly 8000 homes in South Leeds. They ran a non-means tested self-referral food bank from March 2020 to June 2021. Lane was awarded a British Empire Medal for services to South Leeds during the crisis.