Jack Monroe at Greenbelt 2023
We have welcomed Jack Monroe to Greenbelt twice in recent years. With food poverty an increasingly urgent issue, we wanted to include Jack’s unique voice again in 2023.
We have, of course, kept abreast of the various developments in Jack’s life and work. Along with many others we read Simon Hattenstone’s warts-and-all interview in the Guardian at the start of the year. We’ve continued to look closely at Jack’s public event appearances (at Edinburgh, Cambridge, Hay, Stroud, on BBC 1’s Question Time, and so on).
We know that few people divide public opinion as much as she does. As Simon Hattenstone says in his article:
For many, she is a heroic anti-poverty campaigner, as evidenced by her recent awards. In October, she won the 2022 Food Hero at the Observer Food Monthly Awards, and a couple of weeks ago she was named The Grocer’s Hero of the Year. Both publications praised the way that Monroe has highlighted the fact that food inflation disproportionately affects the poor. As for her critics, they say she exaggerates her influence, makes claims she cannot back up, and is not transparent about money.
Our eyes are open to all this. But the suggestions made that we need to ‘protect’ Greenbelters’ from Jack – as if she poses a risk or a threat to them – is one we do not buy.
Some of the critique we have received has been about why we should give Jack a platform when there are others (living in poverty) better able to and more deserving to speak into the (food) poverty debate. This, we really hear. Jack’s is not the only or most important voice and presence in this critical area of our life together. Far from it.
That’s why we are working closely with Trussell Trust (and Church Action on Poverty, Christians Against Poverty and Citizens UK) to welcome people with lived experience of poverty to the festival in greater numbers this year. Some of them will be partnering with Trussell Trust to host our brand new venue called The Living Room, leading sessions in that venue over the weekend. We see this participation and sharing as central to our focus on UK poverty at the festival this year.
Ultimately, we do have a track record with Jack. We know her and she knows us. Like all of us, she has made mistakes. Like all of us, she deserves a chance to do better. We look forward to welcoming her back to the festival.
Mon 3 July 2023
Speakers and performers who are no longer able to attend Greenbelt 2023
Andy Hunter, The Prayer
Unfortunately, for medical reasons, Andy Hunter is no longer able to attend Greenbelt 2023.
22 August 2023
For unexpected personal reasons, Carmody is sadly unable to attend Greenbelt this year as planned. She wishes the Greenbelt Festival all the very best and hopes she’ll be able to join you another year.
For personal reasons, Adjoa has decided to take a step back from public appearances for the foreseeable future. She wishes the Greenbelt Festival all the very best and hopes she’ll be able to join you on another occasion.
27 June 2023
Disinviting John Sentamu from Greenbelt 2023
Following the publication on 11 May 2023 of the Church of England’s report into the lessons and learning from historic abuse perpetrated in Bradford, and the immediate responses made by former archbishop of York, John Sentamu, we have taken the decision to withdraw our invitation for him to speak at the festival this summer.
While John Sentamu is challenging the findings of the report (his initial responses have been reported by The Telegraph, The Guardian, the Church Times and other press publications), we feel it would be wrong to give him any sort of platform. He was coming to us in his role as Chair of our partner Christian Aid, and we have informed them about our decision.
We have made our decision because we are committed to building and holding as safe a space as we can at Greenbelt. We are conscious of the many people over the years who have suffered abuse and who have then not been listened to by the institutions involved. Greenbelt has, for all its history, sought to be a space where people can find various kinds of refuge, including from the institutional church.
Tue 30 May 2023
Greenbelt 2022 speakers
When we released our 2022 festival lineup back in March, a few of you raised concerns in response to some of the names on this year’s bill. We think each of the speakers and artists on the bill have interesting and pertinent things to say and share in our Greenbelt space, but we promised you clarity about exactly what it is that they’re being invited to speak on. Here it is.
Prison is not the solution; it’s the problem
We have a justice system based on two-thousand-year-old principles of proportional revenge. It hasn’t worked and it’s not fair. It is time to abolish prisons and develop a new system of responding to social and personal conflict and misbehaviour.
As CEO of the Howard League for Penal Reform from 1986 to 2021, Frances Crook spent 25 years researching and raising concerns about the penal system
Children, Activism and our Hope on the Horizon
How childhood experiences of activism and storytelling put Onjali Q Raúf on the road to writing the modern classic, The Boy At the Back of the Class, and her first non-fiction guide for children, Hope on the Horizon.
Onjali Q Raúf is a women’s and refugee human rights activist and a multi award-winning children’s author. She will be in conversation with former chair of Greenbelt and now Head of Mission at the Methodist Church, Jude Levermore
Glade mainstage, Monday
Richard Dawkins, in conversation
Richard Dawkins’ work on evolutionary biology saw him voted the world’s top thinker in Prospect magazine’s poll in 2013. He is world-renowned for a string of best-selling books, spanning from 1976’s ‘The Selfish Gene’, through ‘The God Delusion’ and his most recent ‘Flights of Fancy’. He is also widely regarded as one of the strongest proponents of so-called New Atheism. Richard will be in conversation with priest, journalist, broadcaster, philosophy lecturer, and popular Greenbelt speaker, Giles Fraser.
Expect a conversation that is surprising, respectful and wide-ranging. One in which we explore Richard’s life, asking about his sense of ‘otherness’, the human condition (of interdependence), his seemingly, strangely, almost Anglican aesthetic, his sense of awe and wonder. In other words, expect to be surprised; even if to disagree.
Monday 1st August 2022
A is For Autism
Withdrawal of the ‘A is For Autism’ session from Greenbelt Festival 2019
Following our earlier apology on Twitter for offence caused in the planning, framing, billing and wording of the ‘A is For Autism’ session at Greenbelt Festival 2019, we have decided to pull it altogether from this year’s programme.
We have done this having listened and realised that we failed fundamentally to consult with or involve the autistic community in the making of it. We clearly have lessons to learn. And we will learn them.
In the meantime, we apologise again for offence caused and we commit to doing better in the future – with the support and involvement of the autistic community. We feel like we’re listening to and talking with the right people to help us do that. And we’re sorry we didn’t do that earlier.
6.30pm, Wednesday 14th August, 2019
Disinviting Leah Levane from Greenbelt 2019
3. Greenbelt will continue its decades-long commitment to spotlighting and platforming Palestinian speakers and artists at the festival as we call for peace, reconciliation and full equal rights for all Palestinians and Israelis.