The National Festival of Making

Talks, Conversation and Panels: Fri 14 – Sun 16 June 2019, FREE

Blackburn Town Centre, Lancashire


Some of the most recognisable names in fashion, design and art will sit alongside the British creative, arts and manufacturing industries’ brave, new innovators in a series of FREE talks and panel discussions at The National Festival of Making on Fri 14 – Sun 16 June 2019 at various venues in Blackburn, Lancashire.


Open to everyone and organised by Creative Lancashire, the events provide a rare opportunity for professional creatives of all disciplines, students, enthusiasts and the curious to learn more about the challenges, histories and future potential of making industries in their most diverse forms from those helping to shape them.


Two exclusive Conversations In Creativity interviews (both Sat 15 June, Blackburn Cathedral) centre on the working lives of critically-acclaimed ceramicist, Halima Cassell in conversation with Manchester Art Gallery curator, Janet Boston and profoundly influential, ‘new wave’ designer and creator of record sleeves by Buzzcocks and Duran Duran, Malcolm Garrett. Both ‘in conversation’ events pitch challenging questions designed to draw noteworthy reflections from two of the most experienced and successful personalities in their chosen fields.


Turning with purpose to face female-led entrepreneurship and those flourishing businesses that often start at home, Super Women – Small Business Heroes is planned for the Saturday of the festival to welcome women who have defined business success on their own terms. Two-further discussions titled: Great Ideas To Save The World, hosted by BBC Great British Sewing Bee judge and fashion entrepreneur, Patrick Grant and founder of schools learning programme, Fixperts, Daniel Charny, will explore real-world examples of game-changing propositions.


Announcing the first talks in a line-up set to grow in the coming weeks, Ed Matthews-Gentle of Creative Lancashire says:


“Creatives and the creative industries are facing numerous challenging issues, most prevalent of those being the near universal agreement of the economic contribution of these fields of work and the vital role STEAM skills will play in the near and distant future, yet educational resource, recognition and respect for such disciplines is becoming scarcer. Diversity, the role of women and equality in opportunities are never far from the debating table. At The National Festival of Making everybody is welcome to join in the conversation alongside guests invited specifically for their work in various fields of creativity, each ready to share the benefit of their experience, industry insights and imagination in a series of entertaining and rigorously thought-provoking talks and panel events.”


Conversational and collaborative, The National Festival of Making Talks programme spans the entire festival weekend – Things get underway on Fri 14 June, with the following, three, curated roundtable discussions at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery designed to explore the importance of creativity in the curriculum and future careers, and the possibilities emerging from the intersection of the arts, making, manufacturing and digital technologies.


  • Women in STEAMInspiring the Next Generation, in association with Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership

With a global UNESCO study stating that women hold less than 30% of jobs in STEAM (Science, Technology Engineering, Art and Mathematics) occupations and the estimate that only 9% of the UK STEM workforce comprises of women, what accounts for the shocking inequality and how will it change? The session’s host is Philippa Glover of Liverpool-based advanced robotics company, CNC Robotics. Contributors include Helen Heggie, Director of STEMFirst and representatives of Lancashire manufacturers, Louise Gardner of Darwen Terracotta and artist, Daksha Patel


  • Why Creativity & Making Matters? In association with Creative Industries Federation

Whilst human intuition and creativity is recognised as an essential part of a future workforce’s toolkit, funding has disappeared from creative and the expressive arts disciplines in schools and their importance is marginalised. The vacuum provides necessity and opportunity for new ways of thinking, with some of the most innovative solutions discussed during this session. Speakers will be Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, Sarah Gregory of Creative Industries Federation, Lucy Kennedy from the innovative and inclusive creativity initiative, National Saturday Club and leading exponent of universal creativity opportunities, Daniel Charny.


  • The Arts & The Possible

Linking with the festival’s innovative artist residency series, Art In Manufacturing, the possibilities inherent in connecting making, creativity, technical and digital capabilities, with artistic thought often appropriated into manufacturing processes, are only usually visible as a form of integrated, unsung routine or concealed within the end product. Contributors announced to shine fresh light on otherwise dimly-lit, artist-led innovation include Darwen Terracotta’s Jon Wilson and Adele Orcajada of design agency and materials library, MaterialDriven


As the streets fill with visitors seeking out making experiences within the festival’s main weekend programme of hands-on workshops, performances and art installations, the following, confirmed series of presentations, panels, interviews and speaker events take place at Blackburn Cathedral and other town centre locations to be confirmed over Sat 15 and Sun 16 June.


  • Making & Creating: The Skills of the Future?

How will future generations be properly equipped for a world where creativity is essential in the absence of an appropriately resourced system to provide those skills? Using Darren Henley’s publication, Creativity: Why It Matters, as its starting point, this round table discusses creative progress in a climate where traditional forms of creative education and training are threatened. The contributors will be made up of Alison Clark from Arts Council England, Andria Zafirakou from creativity-in-schools initiative, Artists in Residence, leatherworker Jason Stocks Young and Daniel Charny.


  • Culture, Creativity & Place: Festivals as a Movement for Change

What role does a festival play in contemporary society? This panel explores the role of festivals in their communities and contributing to transforming places, as well as the reputational balancing act for festival organisers in upholding artistic values amidst criticisms of the commercialisation of culture. The highly experienced panel includes co-founder of The National Festival of Making, Wayne Hemingway, Chief Executive of Manchester International Festival, Christine Cort and the artist and producer, Dawinder Bansal.


Creatives and makers will also have the opportunity to gain business support and advice by pre-booking a slot for one of the Maker Development Surgery Sessions during the festival weekend.


Wayne Hemingway, Co-Founder of The National Festival of Making, said: “There are no other celebrations of the broad church of making and creativity where you can have a go at printing a poster before engaging in debate with some of the creative industries’ leading thinkers. The National Festival of Making is here to give people of all levels of experience in making the opportunity to break new ground, whether they will be coming along to challenge points of view in this line-up of conversations or sitting at a sewing machine for the first time. It’s an unrivalled opportunity to explore the personal and societal potential of making and have great fun doing so.”


For up-to-date booking information for all confirmed talks and panels, as well as to sign up for updates as soon as further events and guests are confirmed visit


The National Festival of Making, returns to Blackburn, Lancashire for its third year in 2019, with the free-to-attend festival moving to a summer date for the first time. Of the 40,000 people visiting the 2018 festival, 10,800 took part in over 100 workshop sessions, engaging with makers as diverse as leatherworkers, engineers, ceramicists, chefs, technologists and fashion designers.


The immediate impact on the local economy of the two-day event has been estimated at just under £1million in visitor spending over the festival weekend with over half of visitors visiting local restaurants, bars and shops during their visit.  With 91% of visitors, 41% of whom were under-21, stating that they had been inspired to explore new making skills, the festival’s long-term aim is to continue raising national and international awareness of the societal and personal benefits of making, moving visitors to consider their own talents, aspirations and making potential.


The promise of ‘a new kind of festival for a new age of making’ was made by co-founder, director, and Lancashire-born designer, Wayne Hemingway. The pledge by the Red or Dead founder (which established its manufacturing base in Blackburn in 1983), now leading HemingwayDesign to realise socially-conscious, creative design projects and festivals, has led to a one-of-a-kind, town centre event successfully uniting food and drink, technology, major manufacturing, engineering, art, craft and design.


In December 2018, The National Festival of Making won Best Non- Music Festival, in the prestigious UK Festival Awards, recognising the festival’s inclusive atmosphere of discovery and celebration, as well as clinching Visit Lancashire’s Tourism Awards, Large Event of the Year accolade, organised by Marketing Lancashire, the festival is set to grow to meet demand.


The National Festival of Making and Art in Manufacturing recently announced funding commitments from Arts Council England, which has confirmed grant funding support for the festival for both 2019 and 2020. These projects are made possible by money raised by National Lottery players.  Further support is provided by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and a range of private sponsors.