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Belarus Free Theatre launches political arts website

Belarus Free Theatre' 2012 production of King Lear. Photo: Simon Kane Belarus Free Theatre' 2012 production of King Lear. Photo: Simon Kane
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Political theatre company Belarus Free Theatre has launched a new website that aims to encourage a global discussion about the role of the arts in social change.

Created as part of BFT’s 10th anniversary celebrations, the Ministry of Counterculture includes editorial content including news and blogs on global arts, free speech, human rights and social justice. It will also host campaigns.

The site has been launched by BFT co-founder Nikolai Khalezin, who is a former co-editor of Belarusian broadsheet newspapers Name and News, both of which were shut down by the government in the 1990s.

“The main idea is to create a hub of creative ideas and unite our partners all over the world. [Drawing on] what we have achieved over the last 10 years, we want it to give an opportunity for artists in different parts of the world to communicate with each other,” Khalezin said.

The website’s launch forms part of the celebrations marking 10 years of BFT, which also include an underground theatre festival taking place at secret locations around London and a one-off concert featuring banned artists from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine alongside readings of plays and testimonies.

These will be performed by actors including Kim Cattrall and Juliet Stevenson.

BFT co-founder Natalia Kaliada said she hoped the Ministry of Counterculture and the anniversary events will encourage people to engage further with the correlation between politics and art.

“We need to talk about all those topics in London in order for our audiences here to avoid self-censorship. [In this country] there is a space for such discussion and dialogue, but we don’t have such a luxury back in Belarus and that’s why we want to share,” she said.

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