About Clear Lines

Mission Statement

Clear Lines is the UK’s first-ever festival dedicated to addressing sexual assault and consent through the arts and discussion — a truly special grassroots success, which started in 2015 and is still going. Clear Lines has since encompassed two multi-day festivals in 2015 and 2017, and continues to run a series of events online, in London, and further afield. Largely run by volunteers on small grant funding, we often partner with host organisations to create a survivor-centered, arts-inspired dialogue around sexual violence and abuse.

How did it start?

Clear Lines started as a conversation over coffee, involving Dr. Winnie M Li, Dr. Nina Burrowes, On Road Media, and a group of survivors, social workers, and therapists who wanted to start a more open, more public conversation about sexual assault and abuse. With so many people affected by this issue, we believed the arts and discussion could help us replace the shame and silence with insight, understanding, and community. It was mid-April 2015 when we met, but by late July, we had managed to deliver a 4-day festival in Central London.

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Progress

Since then, our two festivals have involved hundreds of participants, with artists and speakers even flying in internationally. Artistic showcases for film, theatre, comedy, literature, and visual art enable audiences to engage with creative work addressing gendered violence, often drawn from personal experience. Honest Q&A sessions allow for illuminating dialogues between artists and audiences, where both are often survivors. Alongside this, panel discussions cover a range of topics like the role of the media, improving the criminal justice system, teaching consent to young people, and the obstacles that face male, BAME, LGBT, and disabled survivors. Creative workshops, participatory art, book stalls, and an atmosphere of conviviality and support create a truly unique festival where survivors can feel their voices matter and that positive change is possible.

Clear Lines has been largely crowd-funded and volunteer-run. But the networks formed through the Clear Lines community have contributed to important collaborations, including award-winning books, plays, and initiatives like the Angles Project, The Consent Collective, and The Independent’s video series ‘Life After Sexual Violence.’

Where are we now?

Since the Covid-19 lockdown, we’ve pivoted to online events, and have been running an exciting programme of FREE events in Spring 2021. These have been made possible through small grants from the Royal Society of Literature and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland -- and by partnering with organisations like The SHaME Project at Birkbeck College, WoWFest Liverpool, St Marys Centre, and NEXUS NI Rape Crisis Centre. We have the expertise and the audience for running more events around these important issues, but without any paid regular staff, we can only accomplish this through partners and/or a source of funding. Still, this hasn’t stopped us: our events have now extended beyond London, and through our online platforms, we can reach audiences around the world. We hope to continue the conversation!

Who are we?

Clear Lines is the brainchild of author and activist Winnie M Li, who continues to be the driving force behind our events. Dr. Nina Burrowes and On Road Media were also vital Co-Founders when Clear Lines was started in 2015, along with a dedicated steering committee of volunteers. Since then Tania Mendes and Katrina Kilkenny have played essential roles in Clear Lines events in 2017 and onwards. We remain committed to building a community of artists, survivors, and advocates who can change the public understanding around sexual assault, abuse, and consent.

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Attendees

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Festival / Talks / Workshops

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Speakers & Performers

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Regular followers

Past Speakers

Our speakers have included Baljit Ubhey OBE (Chief Crown Prosecutor for London), Jane Scotchbrook (Detective Chief Inspector, Metropolitan Police), Alison Holt (BBC Panorama), and organisations like McAllister Olivarius law firm, Southall Black Sisters, Tender, White Ribbon Campaign, Hestia, and Rape Crisis South London. In 2018, we have continued by collaborating on events with Waterstones, The Feminist Library, and leading dance music curators Boiler Room.

Media

We’ve been featured on Channel 4 News, London Live, BBC Radio, The Daily Mail, Time Out, The Huffington Post. Clear Lines has also been shortlisted for the prestigious Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize. But the most important validation comes from the attendees themselves, who have written in with testimonials.

We are always on the look-out for dedicated volunteers and collaborators to become part of our community. For more information, please get in contact.

testimonial

Testimonials

"Thank you for organising such an incredible festival. Words fail me sometimes, when I need them most, they start falling away the moment I think of how it is one thing to be a survivor and it is another thing altogether to make things happen, like the festival, so that someone else can survive, can continue surviving… People will have woken up this morning a little bit changed because of you, because of what you made happen."

Attendee Clear Lines festival

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