Follow Us on Twitter

The Royal Academy of Arts announces first speakers and events for the inaugural RA Festival of Ideas

THE ROYAL Academy of Arts has announced the first speakers and events for its inaugural RA Festival of Ideas (September 7 to September 16, 2018), a 10 day celebration of creativity, culture and critical thinking.

The new 250-seat double-height Benjamin West Lecture Theatre, part of the Royal Academy’s transformed campus, will play host to a meeting of great minds from across the spheres of art, architecture, literature, design, dance and music.

Building on the RA’s heritage of rigorous debate, the festival will explore creative practice and current cultural, social and political issues through a series of interviews, conversations and panel discussions, as well as offering a range of family workshops inspired by the programme in the new Clore Learning Centre.

Headline speakers announced so far include musician and artist Goldie; Artistic Director of English National Ballet Tamara Rojo; artist and designer Es Devlin; Man Booker Prize winning novelist Howard Jacobson; Children’s Laureate Lauren Child; artist and Royal Academician Gilbert & George; architect Amanda Levete and Cultural historian Franny Moyle. Further line up to be announced later in the year.

Highlights of the RA Festival of Ideas will include:

• Artist and drum ‘n’ bass pioneer Goldie will talk about the relationship between his music and visual art, in conversation with broadcaster and journalist Nihal Arthanayake. (September 8 at 3.30pm)

• Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director and Lead Principal dancer of English National Ballet, on her career as one of the most prominent dancers of her generation, and her ambition to reinvigorate traditional ballet through her role at the English National Ballet. (September 14 at 8pm)

• Artist and designer Es Devlin, known for creating kinetic stage sculptures for theatre, opera, music concerts and museums, as well as in collaboration with Beyonce, U2 and Adele, will discuss her practice and process across multiple, diverse artistic disciplines. (September 8 at 7.30pm)

• The Man Booker Prize winning novelist Howard Jacobson and The Sunday Times art critic Waldemar Januszczak will examine Marcel Duchamp’s contested legacy, debating whether conceptual art is the joke that went too far or the Birth of Modern Art. (September 15 at 3pm)

• Lauren Child, Charlie & Lola Author, Illustrator and Waterstones Children’s Laureate, will look at the inspirations behind her work, the magic of reading and writing for children and how ideas can come from anywhere. (September 15 at 11am)

• Artist Gilbert & George RA will discuss how their collaborative partnership defines their creative process with the Royal Academy’s Artistic Director Tim Marlow. (September 7 from 7–8pm)

• World-renowned architect Amanda Levete will consider some of her most pioneering projects – from the Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology (MAAT) in Lisbon, to the Exhibition Road Quarter at the V&A in London – and the importance of risk in architecture. The talk will be followed by a Q&A with writer and broadcaster Tom Dyckhoff. (September 13 at 6.30pm)

• Cultural historian and lecturer, television producer and author Franny Moyle will discuss the challenges of writing about the lives of well-known artists from Turner to Holbein. (September 10 at 1pm)

Family Events in the new Clore Learning Centre will include:

• Interactive Storytelling with Lauren Grierson, celebrating 50 years of The Tiger Who Came for Tea. Families will be invited to help recreate Sophie’s extraordinary tea time with music, props and movement. (September 8 at 11.15am, 12pm, 1.15pm, 2pm)

• Animal Life Drawing with Wild Life Drawing will take an interactive look at the creatures that inspire some of our most beloved children books. Specialist animal handlers will be on hand to provide an introduction to the animals and share fun facts on different species and where to find them. (September 9 at 10am and 1pm)

Tim Marlow, Artistic Director at the Royal Academy of Arts, said: “The RA Festival of Ideas builds upon the RA’s long history of debate by welcoming some of the most influential and creative thinkers of our time to the new Benjamin West auditorium. It also signals an opening up of an artist and architect-run academy to embrace major practitioners from across the arts who I feel sure will play a significant role in our evolving cultural campus.”

To book tickets, visit