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INTERVIEW: Mass performance event will reflect on Lancaster's slave trade past

The 'Captured Africans' slave trade memorial on St George's Quay in Lancaster

People are invited to join in with a community performance to reflect on Lancaster's history as the fourth largest transatlantic slave port in the UK.

The Facing the Past arts and heritage programme is bringing the community together to "respond to the city’s legacy of profit and power from the persecution of enslaved Africans", say organisers.

Facing the Past came about after the vandalism of a memorial of a slave trader in Lancaster Priory’s churchyard, and the Black Lives Matter movement in 2021.

The project is building up to a mass community performance event in Market Square on May 29.

Organisers say this arts and musical event will be "created and developed by the participants’ response to the city’s links to transatlantic slavery, based on research".

A Taster Day is being held this coming Tuesday (January 17) at 2pm at the Storey Centre, for people to go along, get involved and find out more.

Beyond Radio spoke to Grace Thomas, Facing the Past event manager, about the project

The programme of Facing the Past events also includes an education trail for school children to learn about the history of slave trading in Lancaster,  a live online digital trail and regular workshops.

You can sign up for the Taster Day here.

Lancaster was the fourth largest port for transatlantic slavery, a trade which overall resulted in the enslavement of 3.1 million Africans and which made a number of Lancastrians very wealthy.

Their family names are reflected in the city’s buildings, institutions, streets and in the Priory churchyard, whilst the names and the stories of those enslaved remain largely unknown.

Facing the Past aims to bring meaning and lead to better understanding of this period of history, whilst raising questions and inspiring further enquiry.

The project is a collaboration between Black History Lancaster, the Judges' Lodgings Museum, Lancaster Priory, More Music, other partners and local schools. It has been funded by Arts Council England.

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