I’m Still Here

HM  Young  Offenders  Institution  Cookham  Wood,  acrylic  on  canvas
Art by offenders, secure patients and detainees from the 2018 Koestler Awards
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19 Sep 2018 – 4 Nov 2018
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DRAG: Self-portraits and Body Politics

A free HENI Project Space exhibition of work by artists who have used drag to explore identity, gender and politics
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22 Aug 2018 – 14 Oct 2018
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First names revealed for M.I.A.'s Meltdown festival

M.I.A., Young Fathers, Crystal Castles, Young M.A, Mykki Blanco, JD Samson, MHD, Afrikan Boy, I Wayne, Dexta Daps, Yung Lean, ​Tommy Genesis - with more shows to be announced

Today Southbank Centre reveals the first names for rapper, producer, director and visual artist M.I.A.’s Meltdown, a festival famed for bringing to life the world of its director. This year M.I.A. showcases emerging and established artists from across the world to create a melting pot for global culture at Southbank Centre from Friday 9 – Sunday 18 June 2017.

The line-up includes Scotland-based hip-hop trio Young Fathers, a double-bill with Jamaica reggae stars I Wayne and Dexta Daps; French rapper MHD performing alongside Nigerian soulster Mr Eazi; electronic hip-hop artist Yung Lean from Sweden; Canadian electro thrash-pop duo Crystal Castles; the UK premiere of Brooklyn-based rapper Young M.A and many more.

M.I.A.’s international line-up includes

  • Mercury Prize-winning trio Young Fathers​ –​ whose members hail from ​Liberia, Nigeria and Scotland – open the festival with a unique show created specially for Meltdown, followed by a late night after-party on the Clore Ballroom (9 June)
  • Known for their high-energy live shows, Canadian electro thrash-pop duo Crystal Castles perform in the Royal Festival Hall (16 June)
  • In a UK premiere​, viral sensation Young M.A ​brings her uncompromising flow and hip-hop style to the Royal Festival Hall alongside Canadian rapper and visual artist Tommy Genesis, ​whose music blurs the lines between electronica and hip-hop (17 June)
  • A double-bill featuring one of Jamaica’s foremost reggae artists I Wayne ​alongside dancehall star and M.I.A. collaborator Dexta Daps​ (15 June)
  • Afro-trap pioneer MHD , straight from the streets of Paris, collecting hundreds of millions of YouTube views on the way (11 June)
  • US Performance artist turned riot grrl rapper and queer pioneer Mykki Blanco takes to the Clore Ballroom stage, followed by a DJ set from legendary Le Tigre musician, DJ and activist JD Samson (17 June)
  • London-based rapper Afrikan Boy ’s unique fusion of rap, afrobeat and grime bringing together the bass-heavy sounds of urban London with the rhythmic beats of Nigeria for a late night show (10 June)
  • A night of atmospheric hip-hop from Swedish rapper Yung Lean in his only European show this Summer (14 June)
  • Festival curator M.I.A. closes the festival in a unique finale packed with surprises in her Royal Festival Hall debut (18 June)

Throughout M.I.A.’s Meltdown a range of free activity including music, multimedia, art and film events take over the site to contribute to the festive atmosphere. The festival celebrates London's diverse melting pot of cultures, in a programme that works closely with local communities including a mass carnival across the site and a free all-day block party on Riverside Terrace. Leading into Refugee Week on 18 June, Meltdown will also present an entire day of free activity working with refugee artists and charities, with musicians popping-up across the site in a day produced in collaboration with Counterpoints Arts.

Nominated for two Grammys, a Mercury Prize and an Academy Award, as well as recently being named Best Female at this year’s NME Awards, M.I.A.’s accolade-studded musical career spans thirteen years and five albums. She has continuously defied stylistic genres with diverse influences ranging from nu-rave, dancehall, electro and hip-hop. Her Meltdown stays true to this eclectic approach, creating a melting pot of global culture across Southbank Centre’s site.

I hope you rate my curating. I'm happy and honoured to be a part of Meltdown amongst important artists who have contributed to keeping it real in the past. I’m bringing together new outlaw musicians from everywhere, who have all contributed to keeping things weird, exciting, opinionated, loud, emotional, brave or off the grid in the present climate. It's a layered ten days of creative ideas, curated out of wanting to know these artists as well as knowing their art well. Hopefully my contribution fills these summer days with vibez, wild ruckus, controlled chaos and good times, with a touch of education - working together to break boundaries with clashing identities, beliefs, styles and sexualities. Welcome to London, Summer 2017.

Tickets will be on sale to members on 4 April at 10am and to general public on 6 April at 10am.

For more information visit  M.I.A's Meltdown


YOUNG FATHERS - Friday 9 June, 7:30pm, Royal Festival Hall

AFRIKAN BOY - Saturday 10 June, 10:30pm, Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall MHD - Sunday 11 June, 7:30pm, Royal Festival Hall

YUNG LEAN - Wednesday 14 June, 7:30pm, Royal Festival Hall

I WAYNE / DEXTA DAPS - Thursday 15 June, 7:30pm, Royal Festival Hall

CRYSTAL CASTLES - Friday 16 June, 8:00pm, Royal Festival Hall

YOUNG M.A / TOMMY GENESIS - Saturday 17 June, 7:30pm, Royal Festival Hall JD

SAMSON / MYKKI BLANCO - Saturday 17 June, 10:30pm, Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall M.I.A. - Sunday 18 June, 7:30pm, Royal Festival Hall

For press information please contact

Hugo Mintz – hugo.mintz@southbankcentre.co.uk / 020 7921 0917

Harriet Black – harriet.black@southbankcentre.co.uk / 020 7921 0676

Notes to Editors
Meltdown festival, 1993 – present

Southbank Centre’s annual Meltdown festival has been running since 1993 and each year invites a different cultural figure to act as director of the event and pick the performers of their choosing. Previous directors include: Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Patti Smith, David Byrne, Lee Scratch-Perry, Morrissey, Massive Attack, Jarvis Cocker, Nick Cave, Scott Walker, John Peel, Ornette Coleman, Richard Thomson, Laurie Anderson, Yoko Ono, Ray Davies, Guy Garvey and Anohni (previously Antony). Performers have included musicians, artists, filmmakers and comedians, such as Jeff Buckley, Nina Simone, Ivor Cutler, Radiohead, Grace Jones, Sir Michael Palin, Damon Albarn, Sir Les Paterson, Nancy Sinatra and The Master Musicians of Jajouka. Meltdown has a reputation for staging one-off performances and collaborations by legendary artists. The New York Dolls reunited for Morrissey; Jeff Buckley played his final UK show at Elvis Costello's Meltdown; Nick Cave, Grace Jones and Pete Doherty sang Disney songs with Jarvis Cocker; Patti Smith performed Horses in full for her Meltdown; Ray Davies re-staged the TV pop show Ready Steady Go!, and a rare live performance from Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser as part of Antony’s Meltdown.


In 2000, the Sri Lankan born, London bred Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam was encouraged, by electro-clash icon Peaches, to make music on a Roland MC-505 Groovebox. Since then she has released five critically acclaimed albums and is the only artist in history to receive nominations for a Mercury Award, Academy Award, Grammy Award, Brit Award and Alternative Turner Prize. She has also been named by multiple magazines as leading influencer of her generation - as a rapper, songwriter, record producer, director, visual artist, activist, photographer, fashion designer and model.

About Southbank Centre

Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21 acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery as well as The National Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. 

What to expect at Alchemy

Alchemy 2017

Each year Alchemy brings together a mix of international and UK-based artists to celebrate the cultural relationship between the UK and South Asia.


Giving you the chance to discover world-renowned stars and up-and-coming talent from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, Alchemy takes over Southbank Centre for 11 days in May.

Soak up the atmosphere and savour the spice at our KERB does Alchemy food market, or try something new at one of the festival's many free events that cover everything from talks to textiles.

Find out more

British Asians represent

Amrita Riat offers an overview of the British Asian artists here at Alchemy

Britain and South Asia’s complex relationship was born out of trade in the 1600s, mutated into the imperial rule of the colonies in the 19th century and led, eventually, to an influx of migrants from all walks of life to suburban UK in the 1950s.

Like the ancient practice from which it takes its name, Alchemy explores philosophical and artistic transformations, curating a diverse range of the dual-heritage acts produced by today’s cultural melting pot. What are British Asian artists creating today?

‘I tell ancient myths; however, I live in the 21st century. I think all art looks backward to some extent, but it needs to be tuned into the hearts and minds of audiences in the present,’ says Wolverhampton-born Peter Chand, who uses spoken word to pass on folklore from Punjabi elders.

Mawaan Rizwan

Spinning lyrical stories in English with occasional flurries of his mother tongue, his act Tongue Tied and Twisted hauls a once-forbidden art form into the modern, thumping world of bass. DJ PKCthefirst underlines the narrative with hip-hop, dubstep and bhangra soundscapes.

The British Asian equation yields multiple answers, and writer-performer Saikat Ahamed shares how he worked it out in Strictly Balti, an autobiographical stage production about growing up as the actor son of two Bangladeshi doctors in 1980s Birmingham.

Though his childhood home was a shrine to the Land of Bengal, one of his earliest memories is of watching Donald O’Connor perform ‘Make em’ laugh’ in Singin’ in the Rain: ‘I knew life would never be the same again. I used to creep into the kitchen to covertly hoof on the tiled floor.’

“Creating my own work has been an opportunity to present my own voice”

The first hurdle on his acting path was facing his family’s opposition to his career choice. Once he’d cleared that one, the next hurdle was grappling with his ethnic identity. ‘It felt that sometimes I was too Asian for parts I wanted and other times not Asian enough for parts I was being offered. Creating my own work has been an opportunity to present my own voice, and take ownership of who I am on my own terms.’

YouTube comedian and actor Mawaan Rizwan knows no other way. The best way to make someone laugh, he says, is ‘The willingness to be honest. Honest to the point it hurts… It’s vulnerability and humility that connects us.’ At Alchemy, he screens his film How Gay is Pakistan, hosts The Weirdo’s Ball and features as a Gender Neutral Concubine Pirate.

Tez Ilyas

If the last of these titles doesn’t give it away, Rizwan uses physical absurdity and theatrical crossdressing in an attempt to destroy the taboos around what it means to be homosexual and come from a Muslim family. ‘The most dangerous thing we can do is act like something doesn’t exist,’ he says.

The performer’s online channel, MalumTV, has 87,000 subscribers and growing, and it spawned his part in Murdered by My Father – a hard-hitting drama about an honour killing that recently aired on BBC One. He’s living, clowning proof that people want to see the full breadth of their demographic represented in the British mainstream, and not just see their community represented as extras, or caricatures.

When the door is closed, artists are forced to use stereotypical gags or internet platforms as lock picks to break into the industry. Stand-up comic Tez Ilyas puts it perfectly: the best thing about being British Asian is having a USP (unique selling point) and the worst is ‘trying to stand out from the tired ethnic tropes’.

His act draws on his Pakistani heritage, and it’s seriously funny and subversive, even when broaching hard topics, like Islamophobia. ‘Sometimes you have to go to dark places to say something meaningful, and that takes skill.’

Find out more about Alchemy

Braving an ageing body

Lu Kemp, director of The Lounge reminisces on her youth and discusses her research into older age for the production.

In my 20s, if I thought about my body at all, it was about my hips and my bum, to wish that they were a bit narrower, a bit higher. My body was an entirely aesthetic concern, its functionality was so much second nature to me that it deserved barely a second thought: it ran, it cycled and swam, dropped me down to the ground to scoop up a dropped wallet or pick up a baby, balanced me with ease on the most precarious of ledges. But my late 30s signaled the coming storm in a brutal way. A ripped cartilage put me out of running-swimming-cycling action for six weeks and I was shocked at the speed with which I gave up doing things. A trip to the shops was a pain, so I drank tea without milk. I couldn’t be bothered to go out to the pub, so I stayed in. I chose to work from home, I receded. And I simultaneously developed, to my surprise, a grudging empathy for my aging mother’s lack of desire to travel beyond the safety of her home.

The knee healed. I swim and cycle again, but these days, when I think about my body, I think about my feet. And I think about my stomach muscles.  

Over the past four years, whilst developing our production The Lounge with theatre company Inspector Sands, I have been researching older age - talking to a wide spectrum of people who work with, or live with, old age; people in the bracket of ‘younger old’ (those over the age of retirement) and ‘older old’ (those over 85-years-old), gerontologists, geriatricians, health practitioners who interview people in their oldest age and in the last year of their lives, epidemiologists, researchers into ‘health trajectories’; and those who work at the cutting edge of technology for older age.

And of all the fascinating conversations I have had, what has stuck with me personally is the need to look after those two parts of my body I rarely thought of before. Health in old age is complex, a web of interrelated concerns - our decline is rarely attributed to one isolated disease or accident. But balance is key. The first fall is a harbinger - if an older person falls, they are likely to fall again - and the fall is what takes most people out of independent living and into care.

I am not a medic, I am drawing on the story I am left with after multiple conversations. Our feet are messengers, telling us what we need to know in order to keep our balance, and, together with our stomach muscles, allow us to adjust that balance. Maintaining these little considered parts of my anatomy may be the saving grace of my old age. Either that, or I should take classes in falling, and fall, like a baby over and over again into my old age - each time, falling better. Lu Kemp, director of The Lounge

The Lounge opens at Soho Theatre, Tuesday 25 April – Saturday 20 May 2017.

Technology and Death, by Professor Josh Cohen

Written by Professor Josh Cohen

‘The essence of who somebody is’, wrote philosopher Hannah Arendt, ‘can come into being only when life departs’. Death is what renders a life meaningful. Life being inherently unpredictable, events can always occur that change my own and others’ understanding of who and what I am. In putting an end to this unfolding story, death confers narrative shape on my life.

But a recent survey reveals 52% of us would prefer our Facebook profile to be updated after death, while a mere 35% would wish it deleted. We are evidently  no longer willing to accept the ancient and universal notion that our mortality defines our humanity, a conviction that has cut across diverse philosophies, religions and eras from time immemorial. While all animals die, it’s likely that human beings alone have a conscious and reflective relationship to the fact of their eventual death. Numerous belief systems posit that life continues in some form after death, whether as reincarnation, the immortality of the soul or the next world. But all these ideas of afterlife are founded on the knowledge that our current earthly life is finite and will come to an end. Social media and AI have set in train the inexorable decline of these basic notions of humanity, providing us with the means to survive our biological death.

Of course, human beings have always found ways to live posthumously. The means to curate and manage our public profiles, for example, existed long before Facebook and Instagram. The powerful and wealthy have always sought to use historical records, painted portraits and public monuments, as well as the endowment of philanthropic, educational and cultural institutions to shape the ways future generations remember them. But there are also many forms in which the less privileged can ‘live on’, from artistic and scientific achievement to contributions to legal, social or political change, to criminal notoriety.

But in all these scenarios, the memories and legacies of the dead are premised on the fact that they are indeed dead. Future generations can remember them and continue their work, but their capacity to act in the world as living individuals has gone. With their biological death, they cease worldly existence. 

Algorithms and AI are now changing this fundamental reality by transforming the meaning of biological death from the irreversible end of life to a mere facet of life. We might cease worldly existence but we can continue to live actively in other, virtual forms. Algorithms already aggregate and distil my life’s desires, beliefs, ambitions and even my ‘personality’ in the form of consumer habits, political actions, cultural preferences and demographic information. Through such virtual existence, computers will be able to perpetuate aspects of my behaviour and selfhood, in ever more sophisticated and intricate forms, long after my death. It is already technologically possible, if not yet legally or ethically licenced, for the dead person’s algorithmic identity to support new political initiatives, promote new bands and movies, and respond to developments in all spheres of life. 

In the decades to come, meanwhile, AI will extend and deepen these possibilities of post-biological existence in ways we can barely imagine, enabling our dead selves to think, to speak and eventually even to reassume physical form.

These developments will of course change the essential meaning of death, which will no longer be synonymous with the cessation of worldly existence. But they will by the same token change the meaning of life, for as the boundary between life and death erodes, so does the absolute distinction between them. It isn’t hard, moreover, to see how such developments provide fertile territory for the growth and dissemination of ‘fake news’, for how would a false self, unmoored from any specific worldly life, be moved to care about, or even recognise, truth?

In losing a definitive sense of our mortality, we will also lose what Arendt describes as the narrative dimension of a life, the perspective from which we can discern and discuss who a person was and what their life meant. The person reduced to the sum of their algorithmic data in life may be condemned to the purgatory of permanent virtual curation in death.

Professor Josh Cohen discusses This Way to Immortality on Sunday 5 March, part of Southbank Centre's year-long Belief and Beyond Belief festival in partnership with London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Book a Sunday Pass to attend

8 Soul-Searching Questions with Devorah Baum

We caught up with Devorah Baum, author of Feeling Jewish and The Jewish Joke, and co-director of the feature documentary The New Man, ahead of her appearance in How Do We Live with Death? on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 March.

Name three things you want to do before you die.
I want to be braver. I want to get the better of my death-drive. I want to go to Japan and lots of other places I've never been before -  with my husband and children, and also with my husband and without my children.

What would your funeral poem be?
‘Ashrei’ by Lea Goldberg

Do you believe any part of us continues to exist after death?
I have no idea what I believe, nor on what basis I would have any idea.  

If there is an afterlife, what would you want it to look like?
It would be roughly the same as this life, but without the endless wondering about an afterlife - so unimaginably different.

Name a work of art (can be any art form) that has made you think differently about the meaning of life.
Ozu's film Tokyo Story somehow seemed to show me the workings of time and so on certain rare occasions when I remember it that film has helped me to experience my passing moments differently.

Do you think a more spiritual world would be a better place?
To answer this simply would assume I shared some understanding of what 'spiritual' means with whoever reads this, so I'll say instead that I think what would likely make the world a better place would be a greater sense of awareness of what we a) don't know and b) can't know - and that awareness, for me, might be construed as spiritual.

Do you think comedy is important in dealing with matters of life and death?
I think it's important to have a sense of humour when dealing with pretty much everything, though I don't think one should always display it.

What do you believe in, above all else?
The kindness of strangers.

As part of our year-long Belief and Beyond Belief festival, Devorah Baum takes part in a panel discussion on Saturday 4 March about What Happens Next? after death. Devorah also appears on the panel for Apocalyptic Religion on Sunday 5 March.

Book a Saturday, Sunday or Weekend Pass

New names announced for WOW 2017

Southbank Centre’s annual flagship festival WOW – Women of the World, supported by Bloomberg, brings together women and girls of all ages, politicians, business leaders, artists, activists and refugees from all corners of the globe to share and explore experiences, achievements, fears and opportunities for the future, and create innovative solutions to life’s challenges.

WOW – Women of the World festival, from 7-12 March 2017, is a packed programme of enlightening talks and debates, performances, creative activities, comedy and networking. 

Further names announced today include Adwoa Aboah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Muzoon Almellehan, Amal Azzudi n, Jo Brand, Stella Creasy, Benjamina Eb uehi, Thordis Elva, Suella Fernandes, Jenny Jones, Lisa Hannigan, Hailey Hanson, Edna Adan Ismail, Helena Kennedy QC, Michael Kimmel, Christina Lamb, Lauren Laverne, Phyllida Lloyd, Thomasina Miers, Andi Oliver, Louise O’Neill, Anne Sofie von Otter, Mary Portas, Tulip Siddiq, Holly Walsh, Harriet Walter, and Hannah Witton.

They join leading voices including Gillian Anderson, Lydia X. Z. Brown, Gemma Cairney, Angela Davis, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Harriet Harman MP, Margaret Hodge MP, Bettany Hughes, Baroness Jenkin, Fatima Manji, Catherine Mayer, Jennifer Nadel, Elif Şafak, Sandi Toksvig and more, uniting to call for solutions to modern societal challenges for women.

View full listings

Launched by Southbank Centre in 2010, WOW – Women of the World is now a global movement, with international WOW festivals reaching over one million people across five continents, and growing year on year. Over 25,000 people came to WOW London in 2016 and this year’s festival once again marks International Women’s Day on 8 March and coincides with the first WOW Hull, p art of Hull UK City of Culture 2017, and the first WOW Finland .

Following a year of change and political upheaval across the globe, with a questioning of women’s roles and rights, WOW London asks what Trump, Brexit and beyond mean for women. It celebrates everything that women and girls have done, and will do in the future, whilst taking a candid look at wide-ranging issues that prevent them from achieving their potential.

Insightful, vibrant debates and panel discussions address critical global issues for women and girls. Experts provide practical advice on how to look after health, protect finances, boost a career, better understand politics and fully harness technology for success. 

Sessions shine a light on how to feel empowered as a social activist and become a political titan in a rapidly shifting world. Topics include the
  threat against women’s rights and protections, what the refugee crisis and climate change ,mean for women, the role of men in gender equality, the stark rates of violence against women and how to ensure women’s histories and legacies are not lost. The festival also sees a celebration of the Nordic nations, as part of Southba nk Centre’s year of Nordic programming Nordic Matters, and explores the social learnings of these countries that consistently top the gender equality indexes.

Events of the past year have shown that, despite great strides by the feminist movement, the world still speaks a largely male language. More than ever, we must keep up the fight for gender equality and look at the far-reaching implicat ions of the current political climate on our women and girls – from the localised to the global. We take the opportunity to hone in on women in politics, and the achievements of older women, a subject too often overlooked. We also look to the Nordic nations, who have long been seen as leaders in advocating gender equality, investigating the impact of their approach, and what we can learn from each other.
Founder of WOW festival, Southbank Centre Artistic Director, Jude Kelly CBE

Over 200 events across six days include keynote talks, panel debates, live music, comedy, workshops, theatre, the smash-hit WOW S peed Mentoring, the under-10s feminist corner and WOW Market – a range of stalls providing information, raising awareness, and showcasing craft and fashion.

WOW 2017 would not be possible without its generous sponsors and supporters – Bloomberg, UBS, American International Group, Inc. (AIG), the Chartered Institute of Insurers, Aon and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Southbank Centre is grateful to its WOW Gamechangers Richard and Rosamund Bernays, Michelle Chuang, Mary Anne Cordeiro, Caroline, Mary and Paul Cronson - the Evelyn Sharp Foundation, Ms Miel de Botton, Katie and Mark Denning, Catherine Petitgas, Lady Jill Shaw Ruddock CBE, Joana and Henrik Schliemann, India and Robert Wardrop and Mercedes Zobel for supporting WOW.

WOW – Women of the World highlights

  • Prominent American activist, scholar and author Angela Davis, who has been at the forefront of movements for economic, racial, and gender justice over many decades
  • Actress, writer and activist Gillian Anderson and broadcaster, writer and activist Jennifer Nade l in conversation about their new book WE: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere, an inspiring, provocative manifesto for change
  • Best-selling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie returns to Royal Festival Hall to share her inimitable insight into raising a feminist child
  • Co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party Catherine Mayer launches her new book, Attack of the Fifty-Foot Women, in conversation with Sandi Toksvig
  • Harriet Harman, one of Britain’s most prominent campaigning politicians, discusses her groundbreaking memoir A Woman’s Work
  • Turkish author Elif Şafak and historian Bettany Hughes discuss Istanbul, how women have shaped the city, and the lives of women there today
  • Channel 4 journalist Fatima Manji t alks about racism, sexism and Islamophobia with The Guardian’s Nosheen Iqbal
  • Southbank Centre Artist in Residence, TV and radio personality, journalist and teen ambassador Gemma Cairney talks about her publishing debut OPEN: A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be with broadcaster Lauren Laverne
  • Margaret Hodge MP and Baroness Jenkin of Kennington talk about their careers and experiences in Political Titans: The Secret Power of Older Women in Politics and politicians including Stella Creasy, Suella Fernandes, Jenny Jones, Tulip Siddiq and Jo Swinson feature in talks What Does Brexit Mean for Women? and How to get elected
  • Journalist and author Reni Eddo-Lodge presents an exclusive reading from her forthcoming book Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race
  • Sandi Toksvig gives a keynote lecture looking at the last 12 months in 20 minutes The Year in Review and hosts Mirth Control – WOW’s annual night of comedy and music inspired by great women – with a nod to our Nordic neighbours, featuring internationally-acclaimed Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter and comedian Holly Walsh
  • A Nordic focus throughout the festival features Nordic artists and speakers including Icelandic women’s rap collective Daughters of Reykjavik, former particle physicist, discoverer of the Higgs Boson and co-founder of start up NaturalCycles Dr Elina Berglund Scherwitzl, Iceland’s 2015 Woman of the Year, writer and activist Thordis Elva w ho with Tom Stranger discuss their new book South of Forgiveness, Iceland’s first female chief of police Sigridur Bjork Gudjonsdottir, entrepreneur Halla Tómasdóttir and pop-up performances feature the ancient Swedish vocal technique of kulning. Panel topics include what we can learn from Nordic parenting, the Nordic approach to prostitution and its legal framework, and Sweden’s feminist foreign policy
  • An extensive programme of sessions, panels and debates features model and activist Adwoa Aboah, comedian Jo Brand, human-rights barrister Helena Kennedy QC, A merican sociologist and prominent male feminist Dr Michael Kimmel, cook, writer and TV presenter Thomasina Miers, b roadcaster and journalist Lauren Laverne, disability and gender-rights activist Lydia X. Z. Brown, a nti-FGM campaigner and former first lady of Somaliland Edna Adan, founder of Karma Nirvana Jasvinder Sanghera, writer and Irish Times journalist Róisín Ingle, Chief Executive of Bradford Council Kersten England, Director of Liberty Martha Spurrier, Des James, father of Private Cheryl James whose tragic death at Deepcut barracks revealed a deeply misogynistic environment, Anna Politkovskaya Award-winners Jineth Bedoya Lima and Valentina Cherevatenko, dating and relationships YouTuber Hannah Witton, stand-up comedian and former journalist Shaista Aziz, plus-size blogger Stephanie Yeboah, British psychotherapist Susie Orbach and more
  • Chef & presenter of Saturday Kitchen Andi Oliver, Great British Bake Off contestant Benjamina Ebuehi and the Mayor of London’s food adviser Rosie Boycott discuss the often-complex relationship women have with food
  • Sessions to empower women in the world of technology featuring UK Government advisor and founder of #techmums Dr Sue Black OBE
  • A kick-boxing demonstration with former British and World champion Hailey Hanson
  • London premiere of And Still I Rise, a documentary about Maya Angelou’s multifaceted
  • career, part of the BFI African Odysseys series
  • Director Phyllida Lloyd discusses the Donmar Warehouse’s ground-breaking all-female Shakespeare trilogy with associate artist and actor Harriet Walter, company members Jade Anouka and Jennifer Joseph, and producer Kate Pakenham
  • Women on the Move Awards (run by Migrants Organise and the United Nations High Commission on Refugees) support the contribution of migrant and refugee women to UK society, and the stories of refugee women are featured throughout WOW
  • WOW Schools Da y on International Women’s Day explores the theme “I Am Perfect as Me”. Secondary school girls are invited to hear from women who have overcome 'not fitting in' to be accepted as well as how to present their identity online safely, through talks workshops and performances. Speakers include Syrian refugee and campaigner Muzoon Almellehan
  • WOW Young Women’s Rally h osted by Gemma Cairney and featuring several speakers including Amal Azzudin, a campaigner for human rights and social justice calling young women to get involved in activism, and a performance from Girls Rock London' s young women's band
  • A book club exploring Mariama Bâ’s So Long a Letter, considered by many to be the first African feminist book, as well as a young adult book club exploring some of the most explosive feminist books for young adults with multi-award-winning author Louise O’Neill
  • Additional free events including Action Stations throughout the weekend offering an opportunity make a personal pledge or submit an idea for change; Speed Mentoring providing a chance to share challenges, exchange ideas and stories with other women and a WOW London 5km run through central London.

Performance highlights

  • Grime-poet Debris Stevenson curates Gyal in da Corner – a performance honouring Dizzee Rascal’s genre-defining album Boy in da Corner — featuring grime and rap artists AG the DJ, emcee TrueMendous, journalist and battle rapper Bridie Squires aka Brizzaling, Asher X, and a special collaboration between Debris and Icelandic rap band Daughters of Reykjavik
  • Led by Peter Edwards, the Nu Civilisation Orchestra, Mercury Prize nominees Eska and Lisa Hannigan, and Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi present Joni Mitchell’s album Héjira in an evening celebrating women's experiences of migration on International Women’s Day
  • Writers Paula Varjack, Jules Grant and Michelle Tea f eature in Polari – a platform for LGBT writers returning with a women’s special hosted by author and journalist Paul Burston
  • World premiere of Foreign Body, a debut solo show by Imogen Butler-Cole exploring healing after sexual assault, weaving together physical theatre, verbatim and an original score
  • Intimate theatre productions: Future Theatres presents a scratch performance of Offside – a new work by Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish t elling the story of four women from across the centuries who live, breathe, and play football; Choices, award-winning Irish playwright Stacey Gregg’s exploration of the complex challenges faced by two women and their choice, or not, to have a child; The Game - an interactive performance directed by Grace Dyas exploring the act of buying sex informed and inspired by women who have exited prostitution and women currently involved in sex work
  • Comedian and #periodpositive campaign founder Chella Quint b reaks taboos around menstruation in her one-woman show Adventures in Menstruating
  • Singer-songwriter Nilüfer Yanya gives a free Friday Lunch concert featuring music from her new EP Small Crimes
  • Octavia Poetry Collective – a poetry group for women of colour led by Rachel Long – r eturn with their response to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in an evening of poetry, dance and film
  • Divalicious Cabaret hosted by international whip-teaser Diva Hollywood which challenges and explores ideas around gender, disability and body image
  • Pop up performances from choirs RISE UP SINGING and SHE Choir; poets Indigo Jones, Zareen Roy-Macauley and Siana Bangura; all female DJ collective Scratch, and a live demonstration of the female voice from two of opera’s rising stars Eleanor Dennis and Rhian Lois, presented in association with English National Opera. 
for further press information please contact

Naomi Burgoyne, Senior Press Manager: naomi.burgoyne@southbankcentre.co.uk / 020 7921 0824

Naomi French, Press Officer, naomi.french@southbankcentre.co.uk / 020 7921 0678

WOW Day Passes

WOW Day Passes cost (£22) and WOW 3-Day Pass (£50)

Please note some events at WOW are separately ticketed and cannot be accessed as part of the Day Pass.

Please refer to the website for ticketing information on standalone events.


Notes to editors

Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, comprising three iconic buildings (Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery) and occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Building on this rich heritage, Southbank Centre offers an extensive artistic and cultural programme including annual and one-off themed festivals and classical and contemporary music, performance, dance, visual art and literature and spoken word events throughout the year.

Southbank Centre's WOW – Women of the World festival is a global festival movement launched by Jude Kelly CBE in London in 2010 (with the first festival in March 2011) that celebrates women and girls, and looks at the obstacles that stop them from achieving their potential. To date, WOW has reached over one million people worldwide and this number is growing year on year. With the HRH Duchess of Cornwall as President, Southbank Centre is now planning a WOW Commonwealth festival at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 with all 53 nations. Each festival across the world - made up of talks, debates, music, activism, mentoring, pop ups and performance - celebrates women and girls, takes a frank look at what prevents them from achieving their potential, and raises awareness globally of the issues they face and possible solutions. It reaches girls and women, boys and men from a broad range of social backgrounds and supplies a completely different sense of action and energy than a conventional conference approach. Speakers have included Malala Yousafzai, Christine Lagarde, Salma Hayek, Annie Lennox, Gordon Brown, Julie Walters, Patrick Stewart and many more including hundreds of women and men who don’t have public profiles but are working everyday to achieve gender equality. Over 25,000 people came to WOW London in 2016, thousands more have come to WOWs across the world and festival organisers have collaborated on cross-continental projects. 

2017 WOW festivals around the world

  • 18 Feb – WOW Kathmandu
  • 7 – 12 Mar – WOW London, UK #WOWLDN @WOWtweetUK Facebook 8 – 12 Mar – WOW Finland #WOWFIN @wow_finland Facebook
  • 10 – 12 Mar – WOW Hull, UK, #WOWHull
  • 23 – 25 Mar – WOW Melbourne, Australia, #WOWMelb
  • 4 – 7 May – WOW Apollo, New York, USA - #WOWApollo
  • 20 – 21 May – WOW Chester, UK #WOWChester
  • 13 – 15 Oct – WOW Exeter, UK #WOWExeter
  • 27 – 29 Oct – WOW Perth, UK #WOWPerth
  • 17 – 19 Nov – WOW Bradford, UK #WOWBradford


Bloomberg, the global business and financial information and news leader, gives influential decision makers a critical edge by connecting them to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas. The company’s strength – delivering data, news and analytics through innovative technology, quickly and accurately – is at the core of the Bloomberg Professional service. Bloomberg’s enterprise solutions build on the company’s core strength: leveraging technology to allow customers to access, integrate, distribute and manage data and information across organizations more efficiently and effectively. Bloomberg Philanthropies, which encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation, corporate and personal giving, supports arts and culture, education, environment, sustainability and public health charities and non-profit organisations around the world. Bloomberg's support of Women of the World builds on a long history of collaboration across Southbank Centre that encompasses a wide range of arts exhibition, public commissions and literature 

For more information on Bloomberg, visit www.bloomberg.com

For more information on Bloomberg Philanthropies, visit www.bloomberg.org


UBS provides financial advice and solutions to wealthy, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland. The operational structure of the Group is comprised of our Corporate Center and five business divisions: Wealth Management, Wealth Management Americas, Personal & Corporate Banking, Asset Management and the Investment Bank. UBS's strategy builds on the strengths of all of its businesses and focuses its efforts on areas in which it excels, while seeking to capitalize on the compelling growth prospects in the businesses and regions in which it operates, in order to generate attractive and sustainable returns for its shareholders. All of its businesses are capital-efficient and benefit from a strong competitive position in their targeted markets. UBS Wealth Management has recently announced a five-year plan to transform the way it serves female clients. The business has been developing new approaches for the past two years and will now scale this expertise across its organization. The initiative includes a commitment to increase the financial confidence of one million women by 2021.

Nordic Matters

Nordic Matters is a year-long festival of Nordic art and culture in 2017 at London's Southbank Centre, featuring music, dance, theatre, visual arts, participation, talks and debates, and gastronomy. Chosen from a number of international applicants, Southbank Centre is the sole recipient of a grant from The Nordic Council of Ministers for a new festival celebrating the very best of Nordic art and culture throughout 2017 – one of the biggest cultural-political partnerships of its kind. A particular emphasis will be placed on the idea of play fostering curiosity and creativity, for people of all ages but especially children and young people. Moving beyond popular perceptions of ‘Nordic Noir’ the programme is designed to embed Nordic culture and artists in Southbank Centre’s year-long artistic offer and offer a platform to some of the more ‘hidden voices’ from Greenland, Åland and the Faroe Islands.

Nordic Matters


Five Rivers: A Portrait of Partition

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