Generation Future: Announcing First L20 Events

Channel 4’s George Clarke talks Living in a Future City, Leeds Beckett University brings a day of interesting debate in A Generation to Cool the Earth, and world-renowned Lumen Arts Projects return to Leeds for a special commission

Leeds International Festival 30th April – 9th May 2020


Leeds International Festival will bring the future into the present in Leeds city centre next year, running for 10 days 30th April – 9th May 2020.

Leeds International Festival welcomes performers, innovators, pioneers and thought-leaders (from both at home and abroad) into this great city, for 10 days of innovation, celebration and consideration. L20 nurtures local talent, providing a platform for the more diverse, underground or up-and-coming elements, and also provides a stage to welcome those with international renown to come and spread their message.

New theme for L20: Generation Futur

Faced with the urgent need for political, economic, environmental, societal and technological innovation, Leeds International Festival has encouraged L20 submissions to consider the future. How do our everyday actions impact what is to come? How can the Generation of Today make sure there is a world for the Generation of Tomorrow?

L20 is excited to announce details of the first three events for next year:

–       Living in a Future City

–       A Generation to Cool the Earth

–       Lumen Arts Projects’ Commission: Networked – Digital –
Public Art

Living In a Future City 

Many UK cities are at breaking point. If the city dwellers of tomorrow are to thrive, we need to embrace, and overcome, many interdependent urban challenges. From urban infrastructure to transport, the natural environment to urban systems and the services that impact health, wellbeing and economy, our blueprints need rewriting and our goals need re-considering.

Channel 4’s George Clarke (The Restoration Man, Council House Scandal, The Home Show, George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces) will host an evening of talks, panels and interesting debate on what living in a future city might entail.

George Clarke said: “I cannot wait to attend Leeds International Festival next year. Generation Future is the theme of the whole festival and it couldn’t be more apt in today’s world. I am thrilled to be speaking and chairing an evening discussing the future of city living, urban challenges in design and our health and wellbeing.”

A Generation to Cool the Earth 

Human-driven Global Warming now counts as one of the top 3 priorities for UK citizens, according to an impactful recent YouGov poll. Whether it’s encountering extreme or unseasonable weather, the intensifying news stories of international natural disasters, or through our own personal experiences, public awareness of climate change has grown exponentially during 2019. Awareness leads to concern and worry…but can it generate an adequate, useful response?

Internationally-renowned experts will convey to us what must be done to alter our current, disastrous course, which has been described by the UN as “catastrophic” and “nearing the point of no return”.

This event partnered with Leeds Beckett University will provide scientific, artistic, global and activist outlooks and different views on what needs to be done to avert the worst environmental outcomes for our world.


Mike Berners-Lee

World-leading carbon footprint expert and author of How Bad are Bananas: the carbon footprint of everything and There Is No Planet B: a handbook for the make or break years.

Mike says: “I’ll be coming to Leeds because this festival is asking the big urgent question, the critical choices we face right now and, in the end, the real decisions for us all in 2020.”

Dr Vandana Shiva

Scholar, environmental activist, food sovereignty advocate and anti-globalisation author.

Dr Shiva says: “The very possibility of our future is in doubt. Future generations are rising to prevent their future being stolen. Extinction rebellion is on the streets. I am happy to participate in “generation future” and explore with thinkers, artists, activists how we are sowing the seeds of our common future and growing Earth Democracy.”

Chris Hudson, of event partners Leeds Beckett University: “We need to move the debate on, and quickly too, from surface level awareness, acknowledging there is today more than enough acceptance of what climate truth is – Greta Thunberg seems to have provided the last punch to establish that.  Now we need to engage with the adequacy of current responses and I want these talks to provide fuel for those discussions we must all have.  The speakers cover many perspectives and I promise it is not all doom and gloom – there are real answers and fascinating possibilities to be discovered.”

Lumen Arts Projects’ Commission

Lumen Arts Projects will draw upon its network of renowned international artists to commission an L20 project called Networked – Digital – Public Art.

The commissioned project is to be located in many unexpected and non-traditional sites around the city, and will run through the festival, asking how our hyper-connected world can work better, for everybody.

Networked – Digital – Public Art aims to push traditional public art into the future. Mimicking how interconnected contemporary life is, this exhibition will exist in different locations, in lots of different iterations or versions, simultaneously. By forming a ‘body’ of nodes that influence each other, Networked – Digital – Public Art will allow people to see the stories happening in their public spaces, and will provide a new understanding of the communities around them; an understanding that might otherwise remain hidden

Lumen Arts said: “Lumen Arts Projects is honoured to be returning to Leeds International Festival to bring an interactive public art project that will excite and delight the city. It will underline the power of art in a public setting by bringing together the people of Leeds through its interactivity and ability to connect passersby to the city and each other.”

L20 Festival Director Gemma Holsgrove said: “We are delighted to announce three of the events that will make up our 2020 programme, and which respond to our theme ‘Generation Future’. From a brand new Lumen Arts Projects commission that will see multi-site, interconnected artworks around the city, to well known carbon footprint expert Mike Berners-Lee and activist and pioneer Dr Vandana Shiva exploring the climate crisis and how we can play our part to change our future, to George Clarke taking us on a journey through the future of cities – this announcement is just a taster of what’s to come.”

The full programme for L20 will be revealed in February, with tickets on sale 14th February at 9am.