Delegates at last year's Festival of Change in Manchester

Festival of Change line-up unveiled for Belfast 2018

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 08.08.2018
Drag make-up station, vagina workshop and an oil sponsorship treasure hunt among this year's highlights
A bold, fun and thought-provoking line-up has been unveiled for the Festival of Change at this year's Museums Association (MA) conference in Belfast

Based around the conference theme of dissent, the festival will play host to a series of stalls, interactive games and workshops that aim to get delegates to think differently and challenge the status quo.

People with or without vaginas are welcome to drop into Is Your Vagina Normal?, a frank and funny workshop that will be run by Florence Schechter, the founder of the newly established Vagina Museum, which looks at the place of the vagina in science, history and culture.

Other feminine myths will be busted by the Museum of Feminity, an interactive museum where visitors can handle objects that represent aspects of womanhood typically perceived as taboo or disgusting - an intervention that aims to provoke discomfort and thoughtful discussion in equal measure.

Celebrate gender non-conformity at Museums are a Drag!, a drop-in workshop where delegates can get made up as a drag king or queen while helping to create a "utopian gallery" of gender non-conformity.

Meanwhile over at the No Tea, No Shade drag tea parlour, three drag queens will give their sassy, no-holds-barred take on issues of identity, art and heritage.

Taking money from fossil fuel companies is becoming an ethical sticking point for museums, and Culture Beyond Oil will invite delegates to take part in an oil sponsorship-themed treasure hunt, exploring along the way what needs to be done to compel cultural institutions to start acting on climate change.

The Belfast-based Tandem Design company will be running a fun yet challenging workshop to introduce delegates to their home town while talking all-things dissent. Would-be rebels can also check out the Museum of Dissent, a mock-up gallery that aims to subvert the typical museum display through conversation and role-play.

The Conversation will provide an informal and open space for delegates to have one-to-one discussions about mental health and wellbeing, guided by bespoke conversation cards. The intervention aims to address the barriers faced by people with mental health issues in the sector and explore what changes need to be made to support them.  

Class and equality in the museum sector will be put under the spotlight by Museum as Muck, a network of working class museum professionals who will share their stories of barriers and success.

Meanwhile the Cards for Inclusion game is a playful way to find solutions to barriers to access in museums- and there'll also be a chance for delegates to play Modified Monopoly, a version of the popular board game that will expose social stratification and structural inequality.

Delegates can compare and contrast world views at History Speak, an interactive workshop that will analyse how historical events are told by comparing secondary school history textbooks from UK and India.

The MA's inclusion manager Jess Turtle said: "We are really excited to welcome Festival of Change back to conference. Building on the success of last year's programme, this year is shaping up to be just as exciting, creative and provocative. Be sure to search out the interventions and start conversations that challenge how we see the sector."

The Festival of Change is part of the MA's Annual Conference and Exhibition, which takes place on 8-10 November this year in Belfast. Book before 20 August to get an early bird discount.


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Mark Barrett
Student / MA Transformer, University of East Anglia
09.08.2018, 17:21
I was gutted last year when I couldn't come to Manchester and see this great spectacle which I only observed through social media. So happy to hear it is on this year, as I should be coming this year!