‘Festival of Brexit’ boss says 2022 event will bring ‘joy and happiness’ despite ridicule

‘On a very basic level, we are probably due a bit of joy and hope and happiness, and art is really good at that,’ Martin Green says

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 13 January 2020 10:41 GMT
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The Olympics 2012 opening ceremony, which was overseen by Martin Green
The Olympics 2012 opening ceremony, which was overseen by Martin Green

The boss of a new £120 million national festival planned for 2022 has claimed he will “bring the nation together” with “joy, hope and happiness”.

Martin Green’s event has been mocked as a “festival of Brexit” ever since it was announced by former prime minister Theresa May in 2018. It was given the go-ahead by Boris Johnson last year.

Green, who oversaw the Olympic ceremonies and Hull during its year as UK City of Culture, told The Guardian there was “no doubt that we have been through a particularly divisive time in the discourse of our daily lives, and as we go forward, let’s see how the great creativity and ingenuity of the UK can help re-find that common ground”.

“On a very basic level, we are probably due a bit of joy and hope and happiness, and art is really good at that,” he said.

“It is absolutely expected that there is a degree of cynicism at the start of every major project … I’m lucky in that I’ve got form in this,” he added.

Green said he expects to announce a programme for the festival by the end of 2021, and that the event would involve a “small amount of very large acts”.

Over the weekend, a number of public figures began to mock the festival once again, as it became clear it will go ahead.

Author Matt Haig tweeted: “So the Festival of Brexit will cost the British taxpayer over 40 TIMES more than Harry and Meghan do a year. But instead of attracting overseas visitors, it will put them off and make everything a bit more s**t.”

Twitter user Amy Spargo received thousands of retweets and likes for her comment: “£120m for a festival celebrating something half the country didn’t agree too, meanwhile the NHS is crumbling and 4.1 million children in the UK live in poverty. Great.”

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