Fly The Flag: Stepping up and letting go


Fly The Flag is a collaboration between arts organisations and human rights charities, marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Emerging from What Next? conversations, the project was born out of the realisation that today many people in the UK don’t know what their human rights are, and we risk forgetting them at our peril.

When artist and activist Ai Weiwei agreed to design a flag, the opportunity to launch the project on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights felt too good to miss. Fuel was the smallest arts organisation in the steering group, but Fly The Flag aligns so closely to our values that committing to the project felt right. The realisation that our size was an advantage, that we could respond quickly to accommodate a new project, meant taking on the lead producing role, although risky, was the right thing to do. Ensuring this mammoth project didn’t overbalance a small organisation – as with other large scale projects we’ve produced - requires recognising that we can’t do everything. There’s also a welcome release of energy when we commit to something we believe in, and our enthusiasm in taking on this project has been met in the arts organisations and schools who have signed up to Fly The Flag.

Fly The Flag is being delivered in an agile, iterative way, partly born out of the necessity of working at speed and partly because that feels like the right model for a project that wants to be responsive and not top down. This way of working presents a range of challenges and opportunities, developing a project with national reach in a short timeframe, including fundraising, can be challenged by other planning cycles that don’t and can’t align with the speed we are working at. Another challenge, which Fuel is very familiar with, is keeping the ambition big when the resources are limited. The opportunities are often, though not all, small moments where we can connect, support and amplify some of the incredible work that is already happening, ensuring that Fly The Flag weaves into the existing ecology and recognises the work we all already do.

Fly The Flag is a call to action to change the culture of human rights in the UK through creativity, curiosity and learning. Genuine collaboration on this means encouraging others to answer the call and take it on, whilst remaining true to the values of the project, and creating a supportive structure that can support the realisation of a week of activity in June. Establishing clear lines of communication and boundaries is hugely helped by the steering group of arts organisations, artist and human rights charities, and the brilliant delivery partners we are working with, through the project to June. Stepping up to take on the lead producing role has created so many new connections and opportunities to amplify the things that matter to us an organisation.

Much of our work as arts and cultural organisations is both seeking to be an embodiment of, and enabled by, Article 27 of the UDHR, ‘Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts…’ I really hope that you’ll join us and sign up to Fly The Flag for a powerful UK-wide moment of collective hope and creativity.

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The Fly the Flag’ co-producing team

Fuel (lead producer)
Donmar Warehouse
Human Rights Watch
National Theatre
Sadler's Wells
Amnesty International


Coventry City of Culture 2021
Farnham Maltings