Changing Britain 1945-2015 at the Southbank Centre

A prestigious and exciting exhibition on British history will take place in London in the lead up to the General Election in May 

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July, the Seaside, 1943 by LS Lowry, as featured in the Festival’s History is Now exhibition (photo by John Webb)

In the run up to the general election of May 2015, The Southbank Centre will be hosting a festival of history that will study the vast changes over Britain’s past 70 years.

Focusing on society, equality, culture and politics, and including art, music, literature and philosophy, the festival will be held on the site where in 1951 the Festival of Britain celebrated a joyful vision of the postwar future. It is also inspired by the acclaimed work of David Kynaston, namely his seminal series of postwar histories and studies on the themes of Austerity Britain, Family Britain and Modernity Britain. Kynaston, who describes himself as a child of the Festival of Britain, born in 1951, said he was “honoured, and thrilled and touched’ to be a part of the Southbank Centre’s exciting event.

Asking visitors questions such as whether we still believe in the values of the 1951 nationwide Festival of Britain, Changing Britain 1945-2015 will urge people to engage in the political process, and whoever wins the election will be confronted by artists assembled at the Royal Festival Hall demanding a commitment to the importance of creativity.

Beginning with a series of BBC Concert Orchestra concerts on 30 January, 7 February and 22 March, and a major exhibition, History is Now: Seven Artists Take On Britain in the Hayward Gallery from 10 February to 26 April, the programme is an impressive roster of talent. All of the early events will form the build up to three concentrated festival weekends of talks and debates ahead of the General Election on 7 May.

And following the election, on 9 May, there will be a day devoted to artists and audiences, who will give a message to the new government about the importance of creativity, including the London Sinfonietta, who will perform two sets of newly commissioned works co-curated by Matthew Herbert and the Royal Philharmonic Society.

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