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Mount Stewart Conversations 1 & 2 September 2018

Mount Stewart Conversations Festival 2018 will welcome a host of influential and well known speakers.

Once again Mount Stewart Conversations Festival and partners Seedhead Arts, Beyond Skin and IRC have programmed a stellar line-up of acclaimed guests who will engage visitors in debates, performances and talks on a vast array of emotive and inspirational subjects.

***Tickets for all talks must be booked in advance***

Saturday 1st September 2018

Main Marquee

11.15 am:  Music in Exile with Justin Adams      

Mercury Prize-nominated Justin Adams is widely considered to be one of UK’s most original guitarists. Justin is known for co-writing The Robert Plant album ‘Mighty Rearranger’ and playing with Plant’s band the Strange Sensation around the world.

In this session Justin will talking about his passion for Sahara Blues music producing Tinariwen's first album which brought Saharan guitar music to the world, and making music in the most extraordinary of circumstances including Festival in the Desert during a time when music was banned in Mali by jihadists.

Tickets: £5, £2.50 concession.  Book tickets


12:30pm - 1:30pm: Women & The Art of Conflict Resolution

Panel: Helen Marriage (Artichoke), Rita Duffy (Artist) and Jan Carson (Writer). Chair: Katy Radford

Women and the Art of Conflict Resolution is a conversation between women practitioners and curators involved in changing ideas and addressing big issues through the arts.   Amongst other topics, author Jan Carson will consider loss of memory and language triggered by dementia and what this means for creativity and connections, Helen Marriage OBE, director of  Artichoke in London will consider the impact of large scale public art events on the public use of space, and Visual Artist, Rita Duffy RUA  will reflect on the humour in her work which Is both deeply political and feminist.  The conversation will be facilitated by Dr Katy Radford, Institute for Conflict Research.

Tickets: Free.  Book tickets


2.30 pm: 100 years – And how much has changed

Panel: Kate Hoey MP, Anna Lo (former MLA). Chair: Jayne McCormick (BBC NI)

It’s been 100 years since Emmeline Pankhurst, Edith, Lady Londonderry and many more, both suffragettes and suffragists led the charge to achieve partial suffrage for women. And in those 100 years, how much has really changed? What is life like for our current female pioneers, those who are brave enough to enter the fray of political life?

Join us for a fascinating discussion with Labour MP Kate Hoey and former Alliance MLA, Anna Lo as we gain an insight into what life is really like for women in politics today. What are the challenges? And do they think those experiences vary across genders? Hear about their unique journeys, how far women have come and how far there still is travel.

Tickets: £5, £2.50 concession.  Book tickets


4.30 pm:  The Empire Strikes Back

Panel: Rebekah McCabe (activist), David Aaronovitch (author), Roaul Martinez (author), Daniel Macmillan Voskoboynik (author) Chair: John Campbell (BBC NI)

In many ways we live in a golden age of activism. Passionate people with next to no money can reach a massive audience if they hit the right note. But it’s also the age of Trump and Russian bots and fake news. Have the scales tipped again back in favour of the establishment? Or something even more sinister than the establishment? Are powerful forces moving pieces about to maximise profit while the world descends into chaos?

More to the point, what is the future of activism? Should we be upping our social media game or deleting out Facebook accounts? Has the equalising first rush of internet freedom been subsumed by Cambridge Analytica and more intelligence gathering that we probably don’t know about. What, after it all, can we actually do? After all that hope is there any chance that we can still make a difference?

Tickets: £5, £2.50 concession.  Book tickets


Book a guitar masterclass

Sunday 2nd September 2018

Main Marquee

10:30am - 11:30am: Northern Ireland – What’s next?

Panel: Claire Mitchell (journalist), David Aaronovitch, Paul Gosling. Chair: John Campbell

Something has changed about the way that people are talking about Northern Ireland, Ireland and the future of this island. Brexit seems to have shifted the goal posts for ‘practical’ unionism and suddenly a change in sovereignty seems like a possibility where before it seemed like something for the next generation to concern themselves with.

Clearly the loudest voices in this debate are those who are ideologically aligned to one state or the other but our destiny will not necessarily be decided by them. The votes that will swing any future referendum will be the votes of the most practically minded. They will vote to keep the NHS, or they will vote to re-enter the EU, or for a better economy, or a more forward thinking attitude on contemporary issues.

So for this session we will set aside all talk of sovereignty. There’ll be no flags, no loyalty, and no cultural war. What would it actually look like? If we set aside ALL the arguments about identity what are the other arguments? Because ultimately it is these key elements which will decide the future.

Tickets: £5, £2.50 concession   Book tickets


12.30 pm - 1.30 pm: The Missing Peace

Join distinguished panellists as they discuss the role of young girls and women in contributing to transitional democracies and long term, sustainable peace 

Hajer Sharief:  **update**Due to unforeseen circumstances Hajer Sharief is unable to join our panel discussion at 12.30pm on Sunday 2nd September at Mount Stewart Conversations Festival. Both the National Trust and Beyond Skin are really disappointed as we were looking forward to Hajer’s contribution, however we are hopeful Hajer can still join the conversation through a video message on the day.

The panel discussion will go ahead on Sunday with Shelley Deane and Andrea Walker now being joined by Rym Akhonzada with another guest, still to be announced.

Dr. Shelley Deane: Director of Brehon Advisory working on conflict, education, mediation and investment in the Middle East and North Africa. Formerly Assistant Professor of International Relations and Middle East Politics at Bowdoin College, Shelley researches the ending and mending of conflicts, mediation and negotiation, peace conflicts, security pacts, factions, states in conflict. 

Andrea Walker: Starting out as a youth coordinator of Ballycastle Youth Community, Andrea now represents Northern Ireland as a member of the European Youth Advocacy team (E-YAT), an international group of young peacebuilders working together to strengthen youth participation in European policy and practice.

Tickets: Free   Book Tickets


2:30pm - 3:30pm: The National Trust: Relevance, meaning and personal journeys

Hilary McGrady, Director General of the National Trust. Interviewed by Mark Devenport

As a Northern Ireland native, Hilary has risen through the ranks of the National Trust and is now Director-General of what is commonly regarded as a national institution and Europe’s largest conservation charity.

In conversation, we will learn about Hilary’s personal journey to Director-General and what it means to her to carry on the remarkable legacy which Octavia Hill and her fellow founders left to the nation.

What is Hilary vision for the future of the conservation charity? And what does the National Trust mean in the 21st century?

Tickets: Free   Book Tickets


4.30 pm:  The Trailblazing Ladies of Londonderry

Panel: Adrian Tinniswood, Dr Diane Urquhart joined by Lady Rose Lauritzen and Mr Peter Lauritzen. Chair: Dr. Neil Watt

Did you know that Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry (1879-1959) was a suffragist who passionately campaigned for women’s right to the vote? Did you know that Edith founded an army of women in 1915 called the Women’s Legion and as its Commander became the first women in history to be awarded a DBE in the military division?

It’s been one hundred years since some women in the UK and Ireland were given the right to vote. So join us to uncover the stories of previous generations of remarkable Londonderry women who blazed a trail in their own right, and learn more about Edith, and her important role in shaping the lives of women today.

And we’ll be joined by Lady Rose Lauritzen to talk about her grandmother, the person behind the legacy.

Tickets: £5, £2.50 concession   Book tickets.


Central Hall

11.30 am:   Sound System: The Political Power of Music with Dave Randal

Join guitarist Dave Randal as he’s take us through an illustrated talk about his new book 'Sound System: The Political Power of Music'. It is a book of raves, riots and revolution.

It looks at examples from Beethoven to Beyoncé and poses the question: how can we make music serve the interests of the many, rather than the few?

Tickets:  £5, £2.50 concession   Book tickets.


1.15pm:   Freedom, Identity and the future of democracy with Raoul Martinez

Raoul Martinez exposes the mechanisms of control in our lives, arguing that the more we understand the limits on our freedom, the better placed we are to transcend them. Exploring the lottery of our birth, the coercive influence of concentrated wealth and the consent-manufacturing realities of undemocratic power, he draws together findings and ideas from neuroscience, criminology, psychology, politics, climate science, economics and philosophy to construct a radical framework to make sense of the world. He explodes myths at the heart of the systems that dominate our lives, and calls for a profound transformation in the way we think about democracy, equality and our own identities.

Tickets:  £5, £2.50 concession     Book tickets


2pm: Rebel Women: Suffragette Spirit 100 years on with Kelli Turtle

This lecture by feminist campaigner Kellie Turtle will tell the stories of the suffrage activists here in Ulster who shook up society and helped win the vote for women a century ago.

But does the spirit of these rebel women live on today and what would they make of our modern world? We'll look at the recent resurgence of the feminist movement and ask have we achieved the vision the Suffragettes fought for or would they roll up their sleeves and smash a few (patriarchal) windows?

Tickets: £5/£2.50 concession. Book Tickets


3:30pm - 4:30pm : What Nature needs from us…

Heather McLachlan (National Trust), Joanne Sherwood (RSPB) and Patrick Casement

Now more than ever we need to think big. Wildlife is declining at an alarming rate and society at large has lost touch with nature, issues that impact upon the long term health of our society.

In this Mount Stewart Conversation Festival session, leaders of Northern Ireland’s conservation organisations discuss what it means to lead in the modern conservation movement, what nature needs from us, insights into the challenges we face and a focus upon how we are tackling environmental issues in the hope of getting it right for future generations.

Tickets: Free. Book Tickets

Mount Stewart Conversations Partners 2018
Mount Stewart Conversations 1 & 2 September 2018

Arts, culture and music

Mount Stewart Conversations Festival is a celebration of ideas, art, music, and culture. Take a look at all the free events happening throughout the weekend...

Friends of Mount Stewart Conversations Festival 2018

Friends of Mount Stewart Conversations Festival

Mount Stewart Conversations Festival is delivered with the support of a number of leading funding bodies, charities and arts organisations.