Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2014 Hailed A Resounding Success

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2014 Hailed A Resounding Success

After a spectacular 9 days of events the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival is over for another year, which reached its exciting climax on Sunday 15 June with an incredible 2,500 people in attendance at the ever popular Family Day at Sefton Park Palm House. With a massive presence and excitement throughout the whole city on the build up to and throughout the festival, 2014 has been the most successful year to date in its 13 year history.

Taking place from 7 - 15 June, LAAF presented a huge programme spanning theatre, music, dance, film, workshops and family events which brought together some of the finest Arabic artists the world has to offer in a huge celebration of Arabic culture. People travelled from far and wide to enjoy the festival - attracting visitors on an international scale including Beirut, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The only festival of its kind in the UK, 2014 has exceeded organiser's expectations who are delighted and overwhelmed by the fantastic response they have received to all of this year's events, which took place at various high profile venues over the city including the Bluecoat, FACT, St Georges Hall, The Unity and Sefton Park Palm House.

Visitors took full advantage of everything on offer over the 9 days and all of this year's events proved to be hugely popular drawing in record numbers, with many of the shows selling out the venues. Highlights included The Big Saturday and The Family Day which opened and closed the festival -attracting thousands of people all flocking to enjoy the fantastic selection of food and entertainment on offer, which included DJ Funky Pharaoh with a mix of Arabic and house rhythms, an enchanting blend of jazz and soul from Amira Kheir, kanun player Maya Youssef, darbuka player Simona Abdallah, classical African and Arabic sound from Karama, oud payer Attab Haddad, traditional dancing from Nawarra (from Funoon Wa Alwane) and big beats from the Al Awadhel Band.

Farah Siraj captivated audiences in the stunning Concert Room of St Georges Hall with her beautiful performance in her UK concert debut and Danah Abdulla and Rachel Gadsden both presented major exhibitions throughout the festival at the Bluecoat. Danah Abdulla's Choose Your Own Adventure is still running until Sunday 29 June.

UK dance company Funoon Al Arabiya attracted a huge reception and their performance of Funoon Wa Alwane completely sold out at The Unity and the 6 films screened throughout the festival saw an incredible reaction, including the controversial and action packed Omar with not an empty seat left in the house at FACT.

With daily thought provoking topics, the Freedom Hour was also a compelling feature of this year's festival. A focal point for debates on current affairs, culture, freedom and change in the Arab world, it offered writers, artists and organisers of the festival a powerful platform to engage with the festival audience, allowing all the chance to share their experiences of the festival.

Bryan Biggs, LAAF board member and Artistic Director of the Bluecoat said on the overall success of the festival: "It was very gratifying to host such a diverse range of events and exhibitions again this year, and to attract excellent audiences for such a high quality programme. Personally, I enjoyed the stimulus of the festival's discursive events very much, especially the chance to meet and listen to artists and others involved in the challenges facing Arab culture today."

Razak Mossa, Chair of the Liverpool Arabic Centre said: "This year's Festival is by far the best I have ever seen as I was involved in almost all of them from the very beginning. The events were balanced and well planned and delivered to reach the amazing finale on Sunday. The festival has reached new heights and we are looking forward to better this next year".

Every year organisers set the bar higher in their efforts to improve the festival and always succeed in finding ways to bring it back bigger and better. With its ever growing popularity it is a true reflection on the quality of programming and dedication from all involved. After a hugely successful year with its truly diverse range of events it will be hard pushed to imagine what organisers will come back with next year, but are already excited for LAAF 2015.

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