GFEST – Gaywise FESTival, an ‘all arts – all welcome’ art fest in eclectic London came to close last weekend on Saturday the 22 November. A number of films, performances, visual arts events combined with debates took place in venues all over London, including Menier Gallery near London Bridge, Rich Mix in Shoreditch, RADA studios in central London, Roehampton University and Bar Titania on Charing Cross Road.
GFEST 2014 artistic director Niranjan Kamatkar commented on what many visitors described as ‘a successful event’. He said, “Now in its seventh year, the response we received at every GFEST 2014 event from 10th to 22nd November was phenomenal. It shows why we want to set this festival in London. The overwhelmingly positive response received for LGBT artists, films and performers during the festival proves that London has emerged as the top ‘LGBT friendly’ place, a city that is viewed by many as cultural capital of the world now.”
There were almost two events showcasing LGBT talent every day, spread over the two weeks period, where a number of potentially controversial works were exhibited. GFEST 2014 programme included the works from: British artist Sadie Lee presenting her take on Francois Boucher’s erotic paintings, Cabaret performer Bird La Bird presenting strong political commentary through her show and filmmaker Richard Mansfield’s horror film ‘The Secret Path’ – a debut in a rare LGBT genre.
Niranjan added, “I am pleasantly surprised by the warmth shown by London audiences to the works presented during the last fortnight at GFEST. Both straight or gay couples, across all age ranges, commented on how much they enjoyed the art works through their feedback. The events broke barriers with a number of young men from diverse cultural backgrounds, who described themselves as straight, were visibly very comfortable to visit the exhibition and admire the works. Although we hear or know of violent attacks on LGBT community members in London, the fantastic reception of events like GFEST 2014 sends a message that if we are not complacent in the present, then we will have a less fragile future ahead.”
Early statistical figures show more than half of audiences who attended the event fall into the 22 -44 age group and nearly a third of them described themselves from Black and Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.