TB Assembly: The War on the Woke

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A space for freelancers to discuss the attack on freedom of speech and the war on the woke, and how we can work together to resist.

About this event

Free speech is being taken from us. The term ‘anti-woke’ is being used to discredit and silence dissenting voices. This is censorship and will directly impact artists, and the stories we’re allowed to tell.

On 23rd February 2021, over 250 artists and cultural organisations led by Strike A Light came together to unite against a growing ‘anti-woke’ narrative being led by the Common Sense Group. We want to continue the conversation, ensure a joined-up approach, and, most importantly, take action.

So, we will hold a space in May for freelancers to discuss the government’s attack on freedom of speech and the war on the woke, and how we can work together to resist.

The guest speakers are Kathryn Chiswell-Jones (Company Manager at Artspace Lifespace) who has been part of the DIY Arts Network working group coordinating a citywide response (At Arms Length) and Strike A Light, who will update us on the actions they've taken so far. We also plan to share a short poem from our Artist Associate, Saikat Ahamed.

There will be the opportunity for more in-depth conversations in breakout groups to discuss:

  • Your concerns
  • Any ideas you have for combating this attack
  • Any responses from artists or organisations you’re aware of
  • Actions that Theatre Bristol and the DIY Arts Network can take forward

We have 4 x freelancer bursaries available for this event (£50 per person). These will be given out on a first come first served basis with no questions asked. If you would like a bursary, please email


  • Welcome and background information (10 mins)
  • Update from Kathryn on ‘At Arms Length’ campaign (7 mins)
  • Update from Strike A Light (7 mins)
  • Saikat Ahamed 'Retain and Explain' video (6 mins)
  • Break (10 mins)
  • Breakout room discussions (Theatre Bristol to provide prompt questions, 35 mins)
  • Feedback from each group (15 mins)
  • Close (Zoom room to stay open for another 30mins for anyone who wants to continue the conversation)


On 23 February, Oliver Dowden (Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport) invited 25 of the country’s leading heritage bodies and charities to a closed meeting encouraging them “to defend our culture and history from the noisy minority of activists constantly trying to do Britain down”.

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