For 12 years, SHOUT Festival has been part of Birmingham’s arts landscape, bringing queer stories into the city’s creative mainstream. We want to continue to do that: but we also want to reflect on which queer stories are told, and who gets to tell them.
We start from recognising that everyone can be creative: and the most valuable stories for any queer festival will come from the lived experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer people and communities. So our aim is to harness and amplify the voices of LGBT communities from across the West Midlands – especially including those who are marginalised, and whose voices haven’t had a platform before.
We want to diversify the range of queer voices that are heard: and we recognise that in order to do that, we need to have a diverse team, connect with a broader range of talent, bring on board different skills and specialisms. We know that team needs to reflect the communities that we aim to represent.
In the next few weeks, we’ll be able to say more about how we’ll go about this. But it starts with listening: we’re spending a lot of April and May listening to LGBT communities, groups and networks to understand a broad range of perspectives on the festival, and to make sure SHOUT reflects our communities’ needs and aspirations.
SHOUT Festival was created by Birmingham LGBT, a grassroots organisation whose ultimate aim has always been to help make Birmingham a better city in which to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans. Birmingham LGBT lies at the heart of a kaleidoscope of dozens of community groups and networks, as well as a vast range of support services for LGBT people – which puts SHOUT Festival directly in touch with the lived experience of queer communities in the city. We aim to make the most of those connections, while also building a structure and an internal culture that supports the creative ambition to produce a festival, one that places the voices of marginalised people and queer communities centre-stage.