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FLY THE FLAG: International Partners And Initial Programme Of Events Announced Around Ai Weiwei’s New Flag For Human Rights

28 February 2019

Fuel, Amnesty International, Donmar Warehouse, Human Rights Watch, Liberty, National Theatre, Sadler’s Wells, Tate Art Galleries and Coventry City of Culture Trust present








Fly The Flag is a major new project marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In a unique collaboration, a wide-ranging group of arts organisations and human rights charities commissioned Ai Weiwei to design a new flag in response to the real and present dangers of a world changing at break-neck speed, to offer hope and to educate generations to come about the absolute importance of universal human rights. Everyone across the country is invited to Fly The Flag for Human Rights between 24 and 30 June 2019 in events around the UK, the first of which have been announced today, with over 100 organisations already signed up. Beyond the UK, the project has also today announced international partners, broadening its impact across the globe. In an ever-growing list, the flying of the flag and surrounding events will take place in Mexico, Iceland, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Greece and the USA. Wherever flown, both physically and digitally, by groups or individuals, the flag will remind people of the international commitment made to ensure a minimum standard of safety and dignity to every human being. Fly The Flag reminds us that human rights are for everyone, everyday.



The flag will be available to schools and care homes, town halls and office blocks, hospitals and libraries across the UK. They will be available to purchase for individuals from April or people are encouraged to make their own using the online toolkits. Communities, groups, businesses and individuals are invited to become part of the project by signing up to organise events, workshops, talks, activities, exhibitions, or to Fly The Flag from their buildings to celebrate human rights. People can download the Fly The Flag resource pack for inspiration and simple instructions on how to make their own flags. Flags can be made of anything and people are encourage to share their creations using #FlyTheFlag70. Activities announced by Fly The Flag today are listed below.

Writing Wrongs from the Donmar Warehouse who will bring together writers with school and community groups for a 6-month project culminating during Fly The Flag week. They will create new work, inspired by Ai Weiwei’s flag, to be shared online as short films and performed live in 5 public spaces across London.  People across the UK will be invited to contribute by writing and filming their own responses on the theme of universal human rights.

Sadler’s Wells will fly Weiwei’s flag from the façade of its building throughout the week, and host a public talk that will see artists and human rights professionals explore the role of the arts in promoting reflection and debate on human rights.

Coventry, UK City of Culture 2021 will spotlight the everyday heroism and grassroots activism of the city’s community through the year-long #HumansOfCov campaign using photography, poetry and play commissions with artists and communities to spark conversations about human rights and tell the stories of everyday people across the city. Accompanied by an education programme about human rights in schools, Coventry City of Culture will Fly The Flag across all major activities during the year, continuing to shine a spotlight on the city’s activism, pioneering spirit and welcome.

The public can leave their mark around the National Theatre, at an outdoor, participatory event during Fly The Flag week, which invites everyone to contemplate what human rights means to them.



Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Liberty will engage their networks of supporters across the world. Human Rights Watch will be flying the flag at existing events and activities throughout 2019, whilst Amnesty International will promote the campaign to schools, universities, trade unions, community groups and specialist human rights networks ensuring the flag is flown widely in both physical and digital spaces. Liberty will invite its members to engage directly by encouraging them to hold events including talks, coffee mornings, book clubs and cultural events at which people can come together to discuss and celebrate universal human rights. Wherever these events take place Ai Weiwei’s flag will be flown as well as be displayed at Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and Liberty offices in the UK.

Greenwich + Docklands International Festival will take human rights onto the streets of Bow, Thamesmead and Canary Wharf with large-scale performance in the heart of the local community. GDIF will Fly The Flag at thematically-linked events and activities during the last week of June. Events include Mo and the Red Ribbon by Compagnie L’Homme Debout, a spectacular promenade production which will see a giant child puppet move through the streets of East London, exploring the experience of migration from a child’s perspective; one of France’s most-acclaimed circus companies, Compagnie XY will bring Les Voyages to Thamsemead, an acrobatic exploration of people and place which will see the company working closely with local people on one of Thamesmead’s estates; Talawa present The Tide, a story centred on migration - a dinghy washed up on a shore carries the hopes of its passengers as they clamber onto land; Justice in Motion by On Edge will explore the experience of 6 men working on a construction site, Created in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, this is the story of how modern slavery exists under our noses. Both pieces are part of Dancing City in Canary Wharf and commissioned by Without Walls.



Education packs have been produced, by the Donmar Warehouse in collaboration with Liberty, to creatively explore Fly The Flag. Designed to support the Citizenship and PSHE curriculum for Key Stages 1-5, the education packs support teachers and young people to engage with human rights issues. The packs are available to download for free at now.

Make Your Own Flag packs have been produced, by Fuel in collaboration with Amnesty International. Designed to support community groups and individuals getting involved in creative ways, the packs are available to download for free now.

The original Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created by women and men who witnessed first-hand the horror and inhumanity of the Second World War and were determined that it should never be repeated. And today, through the UK Human Rights Act, this powerful idea protects the rights of everyone in this country. Human rights inspire a vision of a world free from abuse and cruelty and empower by protecting people from state abuse and curbing the reach of society’s most powerful, ensuring that a minimum standard of safety and dignity is guaranteed to every human being. Ai Weiwei recently spoke on the importance of human rights here.

Fly The Flag is co-produced by Fuel (Lead Producer), Amnesty International, Donmar Warehouse, Human Rights Watch, Liberty, National Theatre, Sadler’s Wells and Tate Art Galleries. Additional co-commissioners include Coventry City of Culture Trust.

Fly The Flag advocates include: Action Aid; Action Aid UK; Action for Children’s Arts; Africa Centre; Akram Khan Company; American Repertory Theatre; Art Fund; ArtsAdmin; Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts; Attiki Cultural Centre; Ava Hunt Theatre; BAM; Belarus Free Theatre; Birmingham Rep Theatre; Bristol Old Vic; Bush Theatre; Camcorder Guerillas; Chineke Foundation; Clean Break; Common Wealth; Cornwall Museums Partnership; Counterpoint Arts; Coventry University; Creative Industries Federation; DACS; Dance Umbrella; Eden Court; Edinburgh International Festival; Emergency Exit Arts; English National Ballet; Environmental Justice Foundation; Fawcett Society; Graeae Theatre; Historic England; HOME Manchester; Ikon Gallery; In Between Time; Julie’s Bicycle; Kali Theatre; Kiln Theatre; Libraries Unlimited, Devon; The Lisson Gallery; Lyric Hammersmith; Manchester International Festival; MIND; Modern Art Oxford; National College for Creative & Cultural Industries; National Museums Liverpool; National Museum Wales; National Theatre of Scotland; Northern Stage; Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Old Vic Theatre; Prime Theatre; Project Everyone; Refugee Action; RightsInfo; Roundhouse; Routes Collective; Royal Academy of Art; Royal & Derngate, Northampton; Royal Opera House; Royal Shakespeare Company; Scottish Opera; Sage Gateshead; Scottish Opera; Serpentine Galleries; Shakespeare’s Globe; Slung Low; SOAS, University of London, Somerset House; South Bank Centre; Stonewall; Studio Wayne McGregor; Telegraph Museum, Porthcurno; Theatre Peckham; The Core at Corby Cube; The Public Meeting; The Yard Theatre; Tiata Fahodzi; UAL London College of Fashion; University of Sussex; United Nations Programme; Vestuport; What Next? National Network; Young at Art; Young Vic.

Fly The Flag ambassadors include: Gillian Anderson; Caryl Churchill; Stephen Daldry; Noma Dumezweni; David Edgar; Chiwitel Ejiofor; Inua Ellams; Richard Eyre; Pete Fowler; Stephen Fry; David Hare; David Isaac; Kazuo Ishiguro; Helena Kennedy QC; Francesca Klug; Jude Law; Paul Mason; Ross Millard; Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE; Geoffrey Robertson QC; Sir Ken Robinson; Juliet Stevenson; Joe Wright.

In addition to the co-producers, the Fly The Flag steering group includes: Erica Bolton, David Lan, Phyllida Lloyd, Gbolahan Obisesan, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp and Alex Beard.

“Weiwei is honoured to have the opportunity to design a flag for the 70th anniversary for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As we all come to learn, human rights are the precious result from generation after generation's understanding of the human struggle. He is proud to be a part of this force.” Ai Weiwei’s studio, Berlin

Read the full Universal Declaration of Human Rights here.

Joint Statement for FLY THE FLAG: from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Liberty

More needed than ever before, but under severe threat

As the world changes at break-neck pace, the need for our hard-won, anchored system of legal protections for human rights is more vital than ever, yet that system is under severe threat at home and abroad. We are living through turbulent times. Political instability, economic inequality, social change and technological revolution create new challenges and uncertainties.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 70 years old today, offers people a beacon of hope in these uncertain times.

The Declaration was created by women and men who witnessed first-hand the horror and inhumanity of the Second World War and were determined that it should never be repeated. And today, through the UK Human Rights Act, this powerful idea protects the rights of everyone in this country.

Human rights are more than just a catchphrase. They inspire and empower. Inspire a vision of a world free from abuse and cruelty. Empower by protecting us from state abuse and curbing the reach of society’s most powerful, so that a minimum standard of safety and dignity is guaranteed to every human being.

In these difficult and unsettling times, universal human rights have never been more important.

Ai Weiwei is renowned for making strong aesthetic statements that resonate with timely phenomena across today’s geopolitical world. From architecture to installations, social media to documentaries, Ai uses a wide range of mediums as expressions of new ways for his audiences to examine society and its values. Recent exhibitions include: Ai Weiwei: RAIZ at Oca in São Paulo, Ai Weiwei: Life Cycle at the Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles, Fan-Tan at Mucem in Marseille, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors with the Public Art Fund in New York City, Ai Weiwei on Porcelain at the Sakip Sabanci Museum in Istanbul, Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C., Maybe, Maybe Not at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and Law of the Journey at the National Gallery in Prague.

Ai was born in Beijing in 1957 and currently resides and works in Berlin. Ai is the recipient of the 2015 Ambassador of Conscience Award from Amnesty International and the 2012 Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent from the Human Rights Foundation. Ai’s first feature-length documentary Human Flow premiered at the 74th Venice Film Festival in competition.

Fuel produces an adventurous, playful and significant programme of work – live, digital, and across art forms – for a large and representative audience across the UK and beyond, with a national and international outlook and impact, engaging with the big questions of our times, and creating experiences that change us and in turn empower us to change the world around us. We produce a programme of artistic work inspired by the outstanding artists we support. Fuel was founded in 2004 and is led by Kate McGrath. From a base in London, Fuel works locally, nationally and internationally to develop, create and distribute new work to the widest possible audience. Fuel is a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England, and a registered charity. Recent projects include Barber Shop Chronicles by Inua Ellams, Touching the Void by David Greig (dir Tom Morris), DeadClub by Requardt & Rosenberg, and The Hartlepool Monkey by Gyre & Gimble.


The Donmar Warehouse is London’s home for leading artists to make world-class theatre that engages, inspires and entertains. We share our work with as broad an audience as possible. Our intimate space offers actors and audiences a theatrical experience unlike any other, whilst our transfers, tours, and digital distribution enable audiences to enjoy our work worldwide. The theatre we make is always in conversation with the world today. We celebrate variety on our stage, re-energising the canon, reviving modern classics, and commissioning great new work. We always prize diversity and freedom of expression, and with each new production we seek to innovate and spark debate.

Our exceptional education work empowers young people and cultivates a new generation of artists, audiences and active citizens, whilst our creative development programme invites the best established and emerging artists to push themselves and the boundaries of theatre-making.The Donmar Warehouse is a registered charity number 284262.


Liberty is an independent membership organisation. We challenge injustice, defend freedom and campaign to make sure everyone in the UK is treated fairly. We are campaigners, lawyers and policy experts who work together to protect rights and hold the powerful to account. We empower others to defend their own rights and the rights of their family, friends and communities. Our principles are guided by evidence and expertise – not political agenda, profit or popular opinion. We’re not afraid to speak uncomfortable truths or confront intolerance and abuse of power wherever we find it.

Together we’ve been making the UK a fairer, more equal place since 1934.


The National Theatre’s mission is to make world class theatre that’s entertaining, challenging and inspiring – and to make it for everyone. It aims to reach the widest possible audience and to be as inclusive, diverse and national as possible with a broad range of productions that play in London, on tour around the UK, on Broadway and across the globe. The National Theatre's extensive UK-wide learning and participation programme supports young people’s creative education through performance and writing programmes like Connections, New Views and Let’s Play. Its major new initiative Public Acts creates extraordinary acts of theatre and community; the first Public Acts production was 2018’s Pericles. The National Theatre extends its reach through digital programmes including NT Live, which broadcasts some of the best of British theatre to over 2,500 venues in 65 countries, and the free streaming service On Demand In Schools, used by nearly 60% of UK state secondary schools. The National Theatre invests in the future of theatre by developing talent, creating bold new work and building audiences, partnering with a range of UK theatres and theatre companies.


Sadler's Wells is a world-leading creative organisation dedicated to dance in all its forms. Its vision is to reflect and respond to the world through dance: enabling artists of all backgrounds to create dance that moves us and opens our minds; and sharing those experiences with the widest possible audiences to enrich their lives and deepen their understanding of what it means to be human. Audiences of over half a million come to Sadler’s Wells’ London theatres each year, with many more enjoying its touring productions at venues across the UK and around the world, and accessing its content through digital channels.

Sadler’s Wells commissions, produces and presents more new dance work than any other theatre in the world, embracing the popular and the unknown. Since 2005, it has helped to bring over 170 new dance works to the stage, many of them involving its 16 Associate Artists, three Resident Companies and four Associate Companies – the most exciting talents working in dance today. Sadler’s Wells also nurtures the next generation of talent through a number of artist development initiatives, and reaches over 30,000 annually through its learning and engagement programmes.


About Tate
Tate’s mission is to increase the public understanding and enjoyment of British art and international modern and contemporary art. Founded by Sir Henry Tate in 1897, it is now a family of four galleries with over 7 million visitors a year: Tate Britain and Tate Modern in London, Tate Liverpool in Merseyside and Tate St Ives in Cornwall. These are part of a wider network of partner institutions – the Plus Tate network – which champion the visual arts in the UK. Tate also manages a growing national collection of over 70,000 works of art, from paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints to photographs, films, installations and performances. These are acquired and cared for on behalf of the public and shown in venues throughout the UK and across the world.

Coventry won the title of City Of Culture 2021 in December 2017. Led by CEO Martin Sutherland and Creative Director Chenine Bhathena, our mission is ‘to explore the role of culture in a modern, diverse and youthful Britain’.

Coventry City of Culture Trust is an independent charity which led the city’s successful bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 and is leading on its delivery. The Trust is working with Coventry City Council, Coventry University, the University of Warwick and the West Midlands Combined Authority as Principle Partners.
Coventry City Of Culture Trust is a registered charity number 1165639

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