The director of Britain’s “festival of Brexit” says the event will bring “joy, hope and happiness” – despite major concerns about its costs.
The event, which was first touted under Theresa May’s government, is billed as a showcase for “the UK’s unique strengths in creativity and innovation” – with comparisons to the 1951 festival of Britain.
After receiving the green light from Boris Johnson’s government, the event will take place in 2022 at a cost of £120 million to taxpayers.
In a new interview with the Observer, festival director Martin Green said the event will aim to be a celebration for the entire country.
“There is obviously a big narrative going on around healing and coming together. There is no doubt that money has been made available because this country is exiting the European Union, there is no getting away from that,” he said.
“There is also no doubt that we have been through a particularly divisive time in the discourse of our daily lives, and as we go forward, let’s see how the great creativity and ingenuity of the UK can help refind that common ground.
“On a very basic level, we are probably due a bit of joy and hope and happiness, and art is really good at that.”
Green also dismissed the idea of the event being a “festival of Brexit” and said it will not focus on any sense of nationalism and patriotism related to Britain’s departure from the EU.
He said: “It’s a nice line and it makes you look, but I’d argue if you dig down… what on earth would that be about?”
Green added: “”It is absolutely expected that there is a degree of cynicism at the start of every major project… I’m lucky in that I’ve got form in this.”
In November 2019, it was also reported that the event will reportedly deliver an “exciting programme” of arts, culture, design and technology in the same year as the Queen’s platinum jubilee and the 100th anniversary of the BBC.