"So much things to say right now. We’ve got so much things to say." Bob Marley

Keeping you up to date with the latest Jamaica Society Leeds news, blogs and guest writers.

Out of Many Festival extended to summer 2023

The Jamaica Society Leeds is delighted to announce that the Out of Many Festival is to continue into June 2023.   

The Festival, celebrating Jamaican heritage and the cultural impact it has had on Leeds, the UK and the world, launched in May last year with a host of events across the genres of art, music, literature, theatre and more.

Timed to coincide with Jamaica’s 60th anniversary of independence, events sold out including Jamaican music history shows Rebellion to Romance and Road to Trojan at Leeds Playhouse, poetry icon Linton Kwesi Johnson in conversation with Gary Younge at Howard Assembly Room and Jamaica’s Poet Laureate Olive Senior in conversation with the UK’s Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, at the same venue. The poetry superstars were part of Out of Many Lit, a 5-day literature festival which brought together lauded writers of Caribbean heritage including Raymond Antrobus , Sara Collins, Tanya Shirley, Courttia Newland, Roger Robinson, Alex Wheatle and Kerry Young as well as Kwame Dawes, co-founder of Jamaica’s famed Calabash International Literary Festival.

The Festival also put the community at its heart with Pass It On, which saw young people showcase their responses to conversations with first-generation West Indian elders as well as the Out of Many Community Choir who performed reggae classics at a Pop-up West Indian Front Room Party at Victoria Gardens in August and on stage at the Playhouse.

Now the Out of Many Festival has added a host of eagerly anticipated events to its schedule.

From April 4th – 29th at Compton Library, a pop-up exhibition will showcase a selection of exhibits from the hugely successful Rebellion to Romance exhibition launched at Leeds Central Library last July.  Thousands visited the carefully curated mementos, fashions of the day, music and stunning photographs which documented the lives of second-generation West Indians who came of age in the 70s and 80s and the impact of Jamaican culture on them. The acclaimed ‘story of a generation’ also featured the work of iconic photographer Vanley Burke and was visited by King Charles III.   The mini pop up exhibition will then move on to the Reginald Centre in Chapeltown in May.

Mini pop ups in community libraries will give visitors another chance to view some of the stunning photos from the popular Rebellion to Romance exhibition held in 2022. Photo: Jemma Mickleburgh

Four artists, Leeds-based poet Kayo Chingonyi, illustrator Malachi Lawrence, visual artist Rosanna Gammon and digital artist Natasha Cunningham, Jamaica, have created beautiful responses to Jamaican national motto Out of Many, One People with their works due to be installed at the home of the Jamaica Society Leeds, Jamaica House, and shared online in April. Meanwhile internationally renowned Caribbean art expert Susanne Hendricks will lead an online panel discussion Our Art, Our Story.

Bikkle Roots in partnership with the British Library, will see food heritage discussed in an online panel session.  The Writer As Researcher will see the British Library and Leeds Libraries partner with the Out of Many Festival for this event looking at author approaches to research for their historical writing.

The much-anticipated For King, Country & Home exhibition opens on Thursday, April 27 at Leeds Central Library and runs until June.

Supported by a Leeds Civic Trust Community Heritage Grant, the exhibition looks at the lives of Jamaican WWII veterans of Leeds and includes photography, keepsakes and memories gathered over the years by the families of those who, pre-Windrush, unwittingly formed the beginnings of the city’s Black community.

Photo c.1945 of the late Charles Dawkins kindly shared by his family for the For King, Country & Home exhibition at Leeds Central Library from April 27th .

The only way to end a year-long Festival dedicated to Jamaican culture is with the It’s a Wrap Reggae Party on May 27th, a fitting celebration with special international and local guest artists and performers from the worlds of music, literature and more. The reggae party is supported by and Arts Council England and Leeds 2023.

The Out of Many Community Choir will join local and international acts for the That’s A Wrap Reggae Party celebration. Photo: David Lindsay

Out of Many Festival Director and the curator of both the Rebellion to Romance and For King, Country and Home exhibitions Susan Pitter said:

“Being part of a festival which helps to showcase Jamaican culture and the importance it has had on Leeds and beyond has been a privilege and one I am thrilled will continue a little longer than expected in 2023.

“The response we have had to the Out of Many Festival programme so far – from grass-roots community events to the excellence of icons, pioneers and artists at the top of their game – has been wonderful and rightly recognises the global impact Jamaican culture continues to make.

“The Festival has showcased the culture that is steeped in our Jamaican roots and has significantly shaped wider Black British culture while bringing together people from all walks of life through music, literature, heritage and the arts.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, the Out of Many Festival is made possible by  The National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Arts Council England, as well as other generous  funders and supporters – for more see here.

More details will be added soon, including ticket information, so please keep an eye on our website and social media, @JamaicaLeeds on Twitter and @JamaicaSocietyLeeds on Facebook and Instagram.