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Liverpool Arab Arts Festival goes digital for 2020

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival takes place this month with all events being staged online.

Organisers of the annual July festival, the UK’s largest celebration of Arab arts and culture, have announced that unlike some other major city events which have been cancelled or postponed because of the Coronavirus pandemic LAAF will continue.

Performances and other events will be broadcast direct to audiences at home including musicians playing live sets from Morocco and Aleppo and a poetry night linking London and Beirut.

There will also be a panel discussion of writers based in East Jerusalem, Ramalleh and Gaza.

The festival opens on July 9 with Moroccan musical collective Walead Ben Selim and Widad Broco/N3rdistan who blend rock, trip hop, electro and oriental-beat with world influences.

Renowned Arabist Tim Mackintosh-Smith discusses his book Arabs: 3,000 Year History of Peoples, Tribes and Empires, while the festival's artist in residence is British-Syrian poet and peformer Lisa Luxx.

Hello Psychaleppo. Photo by Jamiezld

The varied programme also features award-winning children's book writer Ibtisam Barakat, Hello Psychaleppo from Aleppo, writers Talal Abu Shawish (The Assassination of a Painting, Goodbye Dear Prophets, Middle Eastern Nightmares), Maya Abu Al-Hayat (No one Knows his Blood Type) and Mazen Maarouf (Jokes for the Gunmen, Our Grief Resembles Bread) who join Ra Page from Comma Press for a discussion.

More live music, an online exhibition and a series of short films are also planned.

Festival director Anne Thwaite said: “Our artists, along with our festival team, have worked so hard together to deliver a programme that will, hopefully, inspire as well as entertain audiences.

Daraa Tribes are appearing at the festival

“In 20 years, this is the first time we won’t be gathering together for the festival, but we will be together virtually.

“This crisis is affecting many communities in different ways and it is the power of art and culture to help shine a light on experience, while helping us to be more empathetic of each other.

“We’ve gained a lot in the past three months of being able to talk and share ideas in lockdown, so we’re looking forward to bringing that into people’s homes.”

Online events are free but donations will be welcome and will go towards supporting artists.

LAAF takes place from July 9-18. More information about the programme from the website HERE

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