Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 – 2Tone: Lives and Legacies Event

The rise of 2Tone in the late 1970s and early 1980s – and its place in the Rock Against Racism movement – is to be highlighted at a special event in Coventry.

2Tone and Rock Against Racism is the second event in the 2Tone: Lives and Legacies programme running as part of the Resonate Festival, a year-long themed programme of public conversations, talks, exhibitions, film festivals, walking tours, debates and a family festival day organised by the University of Warwick, a principal partner in Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.

The session, held in the Coventry Cathedral Ruins, on Sunday, August 8, will feature the screening of two iconic documentary films and a panel session with key players from the time, including Roddy Byers from The Specials.

The event will set the rise of 2Tone in context with the wider Rock Against Racism movement which became a strong political protest force at the time.

Rudies Come Back, Or the Rise and Rise of 2Tone – a BBC Arena film from 1980 – will be shown alongside White Riot, Rubika Shah’s award-winning film charting Rock Against Racism.

Award-winning author musician Daniel Rachel will chair a discussion at the event with Byers, Mykaell Riley – a member of reggae band Steel Pulse and contributor to White Riot – and Rudies Come Back, Or the Rise and Rise of 2Tone director Jeff Perks.

The free event is the second in a series of collaborations between the Department of Film and Television Studies, the Centre for Television Histories, the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, and Coventry Cathedral. It is also being supported by CineCov, Flatpack Film Festival’s year-long project to bring film to the city. 

Professor Helen Wheatley, of the University of Warwick and director of the Resonate Festival as well as a director of the Centre for Television Histories, said: “The event has been designed to place 2Tone in the context of a wider anti-racism movement in the UK in the 1970s and early 80s.

“2Tone was, by its very nature, an expression of racial harmony and that related strongly to the Rock Against Racism movement that had been gaining momentum in the 1970s.

“The Specials appeared at the last ever Carnival against Racism in Leeds in 1981, while The Beat also appeared at RAR inspired gigs, so the two very much intertwine. 

“These two fantastic films really express the force and spirt of the time. It will be wonderful to be joined by Jeff Perks who captured this moment in Coventry’s history for television, and also some of the musicians who were key players in this moment. It should make for a really insightful event.

“We are hoping it will appeal to those who lived through those times, as well as people looking back at the 1970s and 1980s to understand how the musical and political movements of then might relate to what’s happening now.”

The free event runs from 7pm to 10pm and tickets can be booked via the City of Culture Trust’s webpages. For further details about the Resonate festival programme visit.

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