Homotopia Festival 2020 – Show Your Working

The festival ran from 29 October – 15 November, undeterred by a global pandemic and a national lockdown hitting part way through!

Show Your Working is to suggest that you may not have the answer, but you are making a plan for how to get there. Our festival was focused on art, allyship and activism.

A major strand of this year’s festival was Queer The City. We got things started with a little help from House of Noir then launched our Art Crawl and audio series The Walk.

We installed 8 giant works of art by LGBTQIA artists in key locations around the city, including Mann Island, Liverpool One, China Town and the Baltic Triangle. We recorded the crawl to make it accessible for people sheltering or unable to travel to Liverpool.

We commissioned 6 queer artists to respond to different areas of Liverpool, writing and performing original content for our podcast series The Walk.

Our first live event was hosted by Liverpool’s alternative drag cabaret night EAT ME: The Limited Edition and featuring artists such as Kalypson Bang and Chiyo Gomes. On the opening Saturday, we hosted Cheryl Martin’s play One Woman, reimagined for as a short film, followed by a Q&A with Cheryl.

Working with some fab partner organisations, we kicked off the next week with a series of workshops. Collective Encounters organised a creative workshop titled Queer Womxn In Action, while Heart of Glass and St. Helens Council’s Arts in Libraries Programme commissioned the hilarious Amy Pennington whose video 4:3 set the tone for a workshop on queer representation on TV. The Goddess Projects workshop Ally 101: An Anti-Racist Introduction proved to be extremely popular and was given great feedback.

This year’s Artist-In-Residence Fox Fisher arrived on their birthday, 5 November, and were a guest in that evening’s event, Trans Creative At The Movies. We created a series of events with Fox that were filmed in Liverpool, at closed studios and livestreamed to the audience locked down at home. A live, interactive screen-printing event was engaged with by over 100 people via Twitter.

Accompanied by their partner Owl, Fox curated an evening of film shorts from their project My Genderation. Then on the Sunday morning, Fox sat down for a chat with local artist and trans campaigner Sophie Green as part of a lovely ‘In Conversation’ event.

In a very special version of Liverpool’s most eclectic spoken word night A Lovely Word, Jade Anouka blew the (virtual!) crowd away with a powerful performance, followed by an open mic featuring local queer poets.

Our own homo-grown talents from the QueerCore artist development programme were put in the spotlight throughout the festival. ROOT-ed Zine produced a special QTIPoc Zine to coincide with the festival (buy online here). Mooncup Theatre presented online drag workshops and a (pre-lockdown) drag promenade down Liverpool’s Hope Street.

Queer Bodies was a 12-week rolling poetry course that produced a new pamphlet, launched during the festival. Founders Day Mattar and Brendan Curtis-Burton also performed at Homotopia & Friends’ Fabulous Cabaret, live from the main stage at the Liverpool Everyman Theatre. The programme also featured scratch performances from Pretentious Dross, Transcend Theatre, Mooncup Theatre, Ashleigh Owen and Midgitte Bardot. Plus a pre-recorded performance from Young Homotopia, our youth progamme in partnership with YPAS/GYRO and Collective Encounters. This project was funded by the Anne and Ray Messer Foundation, and the LCR Pride Foundation Community Fund (supported by Barclays).

The final Saturday night sizzled with a binder-breaking double bill. Sound Cistem sees two transgender performers say ‘up yours’ to the gender binary as part of a radical dance party. While Mitchell Jay performed S/he/it Happens one last time (top surgery is booked!) filmed at the Liverpool Everyman.

As is becoming tradition, we ended on a high with our unofficial closing party QueerCentric Music Night, curated by Liverpool Queer Collective.

We’ll be back next autumn and really, really hope we’ll be back to IRL events. Until then, stay safe and keep it queer.

A huge thank you to all of our funders and partners including Arts Council England, Liverpool City Council, BBC Radio Merseyside, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, Unity Theatre, Hope Street Hotel, Ann and Ray Messer Foundation, LCR Pride, YPAS, Collective Encounters, St Helens Borough Councils Library Service and Attitude Magazine.