Play at our next festival!

A programming team listens to music from all the bands and individual musicians who apply to perform at the festival, and final decisions are made using a “best fit” approach. The criteria we follow is:

  • To only feature artists who have not performed the previous year and/or a number of times over previous years
  • To prioritise artists based in Devon – and particularly Exeter
  • To prioritise artists performing original material
  • To increase the generic diversity of the music on offer
  • To allow more opportunities for young people to perform
  • To attempt to achieve a fair balance of performers across ethnic minorities; gender; age; and musical genre.

If you would like to apply to perform please fill out this form.




Read 2016’s Annual Report


Exeter Respect Festival was inspired by the 1996 Respect Festival, a free anti-racism music festival in London organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC). While primarily perceived as a free music festival it also hosted trade unions, voluntary organisations, groups, charities and community organisations campaigning for diversity and equality and promoting the anti-racism movement that was led by the Racial Equality Councils. Exeter Respect Festival 1997 was led by The TUC and Devon and Exeter Racial Equality Council (DEREC). They all had one thing in common, to bring communities in Exeter together to say no to racism and yes to multi-cultural understanding and social inclusion under the slogan of the Council of Europe, “All different- All Equal”. This slogan became part of the Exeter Respect logo. Since the 1950s the Council of Europe have encouraged all organisations that are campaigning against racism and prejudice to adopt this slogan and use it.

Between 2005 and 2013 Exeter Respect Festival was organised by an independent unincorporated group of individuals without a clear legal structure. In 2009 Exeter Respect Festival was moved from Exeter Phoenix, its previous main venue, to Belmont Park and was combined with the Exeter City Council Play Day. In 2010 Exeter Respect Festival was extended to a 2 day event in Belmont Park. The Membership Committee of the Cooperative Society sponsored the Festival. They become the Platinum sponsor for 3 years. Alongside Exeter City Council there were many other sponsors and stall holders that helped the festival to be sustained, yet its legal structure was still unclear.

Exeter Respect 2013 was the most challenging time in the history of Exeter Respect Festival, the 3 year sponsorship from the Cooperative Membership Committee had finished. One member of the core organising committee left due to the workload of his business, another member of the committee who also struggled to stay decided that the 2013 festival was to be his last year. This led to further strong discussion about the future of Exeter Respect Festival, its structure and its sustainability. After the 2013 festival the committee, after discussion with a legal team and a business advisor, reached the decision to opt for a model of non-profit social enterprise in the form of a Community Interest Company (CIC). On 9 October 2013 Exeter Respect became Exeter Respect CIC with a legally structured board, with the rights to organise Exeter Respect Festival and their main responsibility to sustain and develop it.

Exeter Respect Festival is unique; its message has never changed since it was started. It is the biggest annual celebration of diversity, equality and human rights in Exeter. Every year Exeter Respect Festival has created a large cultural community hub. It has provided a place for people to network, to empower and to connect with each other, by browsing through the stalls, by attending the different workshops and by listening to the words of many organisations who wished to campaign and share their services with the public. The Festival has become a platform for artists to share their creativity with voices of celebration from every corner, a melting pot of all nationalities and ethnicities coming together to say “no” to all forms of prejudice, discrimination and racism.

Dr Suaad George, Managing Director, Exeter Respect CIC
“All Different All Equal”


This report contains a review of every aspect of Exeter Respect Festival 2016, to share with the public, sponsors, stall holders and supporters; to comment and to suggest recommendations for improvement.


Exeter Respect Festival 2016 took place on Saturday 11th June and Sunday 12th June 2016 in Belmont Park in the City of Exeter. It was a free event lasting from noon until 7pm on Saturday and 11am until 6pm on Sunday. Exeter Respect Festival 2016 was an alcohol free festival providing a great safe space in which more communities than ever before celebrated and shared their cultures.


This open-air stage once again featured a very diverse programme of carefully chosen live music over the two days. A programming team of six people listened to music from all the bands and individual musicians who had applied to perform and final decisions were made using a ‘best fit’ approach according to the following criteria (which was also applied to programming for the Acoustic Cafe Stage)

To only feature artists who had not performed the previous year and/or a number of times over previous years (one exception was made in the interests of diversity)
To prioritise artists based in Devon – and particularly Exeter
To prioritise artists performing original material
To increase the diversity of the music on offer
To allow more opportunities for young people to perform
To attempt to achieve a fair balance of performers across ethnic minorities; gender; age; and musical genre.

In the end the programming team decided to include an Indian show organised by Exeter Malayalee Association in the line-up, to ensure that there was enough music in the programme to justify the chosen theme of ‘Indian Culture in Devon’, and also to expose local audiences to music and dance that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience.
No one band was promoted as a headliner as we aimed to promote the idea that all the artists are equally as important and excellent in their own way. This is totally in fitting with the central message of Exeter Respect – “All Different, All Equal”. In order to further demonstrate this belief in practice we once again had an equal expenses payment policy where every individual musician was paid the same amount (£30). The only exception to this was for bands with five members or more whose expenses fee was capped at £150 due to budgetary limitations.
On the whole the live music programmed on the Diversity Stage went down extremely well with audiences with many people dancing and cheering with appreciation. Genres of music included: African Zimbabwean music and dance from India; reggae; dub; ska; indie pop; rock; folk; hip hop. The young DJ’s blended in very well with the Exeter Love Yoga Salutation.
On Sunday afternoon when the young people started to DJ there was some inevitable sound bleed between the stages at times, which is difficult to avoid completely on a small site. Consequently we should perhaps think more carefully about the positioning of the stages in relation to each other for 2017. The size of the Diversity Stage was perfect being wider and much more practical but needed more lighting.


The relaxed ambience of the Acoustic Cafe Stage offered an alternative experience for those looking for an escape from the more hectic areas of the festival, the comfy sofas and coffee tables contributed to the marquee’s intimate atmosphere. For this stage the programming team sought out the very best of local acoustic talent in the form of solo singer/songwriters, duos, trios and stripped back bands performing semi-unplugged sets. Genres and styles ranged from English folk to rap, from rock/pop to jazz guitar and saxophone, it felt at times that large bands were misplaced and would be more suitable for the Diversity Stage. The marquee became a shelter from the occasional rain when people wished to shelter and enjoy the jazz band or other bands. Overall feedback from everyone that attended the stage stated that it was run by professionally and the comperes hosted the show beautifully.
Given the marquee’s location immediately next to the St. Sidwell’s Cafe the stage became a magnet for those who needed to rest their feet and partake in home-made refreshments, whilst simultaneously being lulled by some really excellent live music.


The Community Stage was once again partly and kindly sponsored by Hannah’s of Seale Hayne (who also acted as a compere!) and hosted a variety of performances by talented community groups, including several large choirs from different cultures; dance groups performing everything from flamenco to belly dancing; a theatrical production and live music featuring young disabled adults and children; a variety choirs from Wren Music Project and the University of Exeter; a community world music band Kulu who combined the east and the west; the young people’s band the Rushes; Vivid Vague and many others. Performances in the marquee were very well attended and the community spirit and atmosphere tangible and vibrant. The stage was fully accessible for wheelchair users and large enough for dance groups and sizable choirs to perform comfortably.
The programme was kicked off on Saturday with live music from Soundwaves who also led the opening procession through Newtown along with Exeter Malayalee Association and St. Mathews Pre–School, following a music workshop
at St Matthew’s Hall.


Saturday’s activities were run by Devon Youth Service (DYS) and Sunday’s activities were run by Exeter Respect Young Ambassadors. DYS ran two open mic slots and hosted performances by under 20s bands. Exeter Respect told DYS that they would provide a PA for both days, however the Ambassadors were unable to meet this requirement which was unfortunately only communicated a week before the event. Thankfully the DYS PA was not booked out and they were able to use it for Saturday’s activities.  This issue has been reviewed and it was reported by the Young Ambassadors that they had taken on more than they could deliver, poor communication was found and proper coordination was missing. This provided lessons to be learnt from in the future.
Devon Youth Parliament representatives also attended on Saturday to run activities, including a Hate Crime Survey, a photo booth and a ‘graffiti wall’. There were also comfortable sofas providing a “chill-out space” for young people inside the marquee all weekend as requested. However, the Youth Parliament reps found it difficult to run activities inside the marquee because of the loud music and space used up by the sofas, so they took their activities around the park; this worked fine in good weather but they would have preferred to have had a base. It has been suggested that a teenage ‘chill out’ space where people can have conversations and non music based activities (surveys, etc) needs to be separate from the youth stage (music).
Sunday’s programme was curated by the Exeter Respect Young Ambassadors; Sammy Sound with his colourful touch decorated the stage and provided the PA. After performances by young musicians from local community organisations and educational establishments – including Exeter Guitar and Exeter College – the young people decided it was time for a DJ in the afternoon. The stage was very well attended and really vibrant, although the DJ sound interfered with the sound at the Diversity Stage. The young people had to reduce the sound to its lowest capacity but it was buzzing throughout the whole weekend.


Widsith & Deor Cabaret Tipi hosted an intriguing range of activities and performances, including offbeat stories, poetry, theatre, and live music. The organisers, Shane and Matthew emailed: “This is the sixth year in a row in which we have had the pleasure of hosting the Widsith & Deor Stage, and the feedback was better than ever. As ever, we had a mixed arts programme of storytelling, music, song, poetry, theatre, and three workshops and everything went pretty much according to plan without any hitches.
Comments included:

‘Love your stage’
‘Great set up’ (an organiser from the St. Thomas community Festival)
‘Brilliant stage – very well curated.’
‘Fantastic time’
‘Lovely vibes’
And from our performers:
‘Thanks for being such fab, hard-working hosts!’
‘Thanks for the hospitality – really good programme’
‘Such hospitality! Better than in New York’ (very kindly from Chartwell Dutiro)

There were many more positive comments and we were delighted with how the whole two days went. Our performers were happy, people helped out, the stewards were there when we needed them, and most importantly our audiences and workshops participants were really engaged and enjoyed themselves. So much so, that in our various workshops, the participants didn’t want to leave! Always a good sign.

Highlights included Chartwell Dutiro’s ‘Singing with Ancestors’ workshop, where he taught us all some words and music to sing together in harmony, and the reason behind it, where people come together and sing hypnotically into the night, to achieve a trance-like state. He explained it beautifully and also gave a very moving summary of his experiences and perspective growing up in Zimbabwe when it was still called Rhodesia, which people found both very interesting and illuminating.

Mandy (of the Cartwheels Collective)’s ‘God’s Eye’ craft workshop went down very well also, with people carrying on wanting to make these attractive and simple craft items (made from yarn and sticks) well past the allotted hour, and during the following performances, but she was happy to overrun.

Lastly our Medieval Martial Arts Have-a-Go Workshop rounded off the Sunday extremely well, with again, people wanting to stay well past the hour, and around seven people all participating in one go (as many in fact, as the space would hold, what with clearance and spears etc.).

We included some leftfield things such as singing in Old English and Anglo-Saxon, as the Anglo-Saxons came of course, to Britain during the Heroic Age of Migration, integrating with, conquering and fighting the Britons and Vikings, to show the truly timeless nature of migration, integration, assimilation and the way that those once viewed as invaders can so easily over time become just another branch on a nation’s family tree.

All in all, we are really pleased with how the whole event went, and everyone said what a lovely atmosphere there was at the Festival as a whole. We believe the Respect Festival to be a vital and vibrant part of the city’s celebrations and a key event in community spirit and cohesion. We give our thanks for the opportunity to be part of it”.


This year’s Exeter Respect Festival saw the trial of a community cinema in collaboration with Wiseman Productions. Dan Wiseman said:  “The concept being to encourage local film makers to engage with the themes around the festival – such as equality, multiculturalism and community issues.

This event had a fantastic programme of films including the award winning and critically acclaimed ‘Letterbox’ and ‘The Spring’. The cinema was well received despite a limited audience. The cinema was able to seat 30 but only managed 14 at its peak.

The cinema itself was well executed with the screen, audio and marquee providing a fantastic space to view the films. There was a technical issue with the sound early on which was quickly rectified.

The cinema was hard to spot as its location was off the main routes and the signage wasn’t clear enough. Also there should have been more pre-event promotion.

Despite all of this the feedback was excellent but it has been discussed that next year the cinema would do better as a separate event as perhaps it doesn’t lend itself well to the Exeter Respect Festival set up.

Overall it was a positive move that could inspire people to engage with Exeter Respect in a unique way but to be reviewed and set up differently next year.


The 108 Sun Salutation is a very popular annual event at Exeter Respect which attracts experienced yoga enthusiasts and beginners alike. The salutations – led by Fran Allen (Derek The Dog Yoga Centre) – once again took place in the centre of the main area, the African DJ who opened the Diversity Stage seemed to complement the relaxing yet invigorating Sunday morning warm-up particularly with drizzling rain. These two activities went very well side by side; the rain adding a blessing to the performance.


Once again a full list of activities were delivered by different stall holders who engaged with families and their children. The bouncy castle was looked after by the Summer Adventures Society from the University of Exeter Student Guild. Exeter City Football Trust, One Game One community group alongside the Clifton Hill Centre, the Police with their cadets and the Fire Services provided leisure activities, mainly football and information about their services in the Community. The Children Centres, RAMM, St Matthews pre-school, Home Start, Balloons and many others also delivered activities involving children and their families. Exeter Community Initiatives provided information about their project and their logo pool was very popular with children and their families, they also provided support to any lost children and their parents.  The area was buzzing with interactive activities from all around the world.


Local small businesses and charities sold Fair Traded goods from around the world, many supporting a range of international good causes. From Devonian, Asian and Indian cuisine to Devon jewellery to world clothing the park’s central avenue of trees and the play area became an international market, with people browsing and shopping. We encouraged local traders to participate and promote their goods; this element needs to be carefully managed in order to create a balance between commercial traders and charitable causes.


More communities from different diverse backgrounds rushed to book a space this year and fitting everyone in was a challenge. As usual Exeter Respect Festival reserved the right to hold collections on the entrances, but many groups also fundraised for their good causes. Exeter Respect Festival 2016 was marked solidarity between people, and the range of displays and activities by campaigners made people move more around the park.  Multilingual CIC stated “We believe this year’s Exeter Respect festival was the most successful so far. People you never see in town felt comfortable and free to attend this festival. Multilingua had over 100 people come to our stand inquiring about languages and interpreting. They were all happy to find out that such an organisation exists in Exeter. Multilingua think Exeter Respect does a great service for all the communities in Devon. It is one day when people from all over the world can find about other cultures and cuisines. Exeter Respect festival should be funded and encouraged to run every year as it does a great service. We have had so many complimentary feedback regarding the day as a whole. Regardless of the whether people enjoyed themselves. Anyone who has the capacity should fund it and I think it is a big kudos point for Exeter to run such a successful diversity festival”.

The layout of the site was organised according to the causes, traders and caterers in one group; women’s groups’ faith and other charities were in another group, in this way we have created a specialised area for the visitors to browse, shop, socialise, and retrieve information.


The quiet Sensory Garden part of Belmont Park became the Exeter Respect Festival Wellbeing Zone. This year a few stall holders at this area mentioned that the Health Zone being out of sight gave them more privacy; others felt that maybe it needed more signage. However, healing organisations generally found it better to be in a quiet area in order to deliver their activities effectively. The overall feedback from the stall holders was that it was an excellent location for the purpose of their activities and they preferred that the area should be called Healing Zone rather Wellbeing Zone. The feedback from the visitors indicated that people do visit this area and enjoy being treated by different practitioners.  Rockhaven Adventure Therapy used the area as a platform for community engagement. There were many more activities related to health and wellbeing, including discounted head massages and full massages provided by a local practitioner. The public had plenty of opportunities to learn more about wellbeing, healing and spirituality.


Belmont Park was transformed into an amazing festival site and the event featured a number of strolling performances from the Philippines community and the Bulgarian Association amongst many others. This year we introduced DJs and the finale was performed by the Karina Bollywood School and the Exeter Malayalee Associations. Many community groups after this show came forward to ask how they could present their show for the coming Festival next year. Everywhere you turned you were able to experience someone performing something. Not having alcohol on site made the site more inclusive and more accessible to an organisation who run specific projects related to rehabilitation from alcohol.


Belmont Park was transformed into a colourful and vibrant festival site.  Beverly Noad produced a banner especially for the procession. The wall at Belmont Park was transformed with a vivid image of the sun by Paul, a graffiti artist who wrote on the top of his graffiti to fit the weather during the weekend ‘The Sun is Shining behind the Cloud’.  Our main theme for every year is to celebrate our cultural diversity, this year in particular the Malayalee Indian population who live in Exeter and Devon. Accordingly the artist Chloe Pooley featured with her touch the faces who are related to the history of India to mark our theme.  We believe that Exeter is gradually becoming a cosmopolitan city and this needed to be featured on the wall.


The volunteers are the backbone of Exeter Respect Festival and it would not be possible to run the festival without the generosity of many people from all different backgrounds coming together to help and support the Festival, before, during and after the event. Before the festival skilled people were gathered to form sub-committees such as the programming committee, where musicians and promoters were eager to decide which acts would be suitable to be invited to perform at the festival.  For many years people have been coming from all parts of Exeter, Devon and Cornwall to volunteer and be part of this amazing event. The Exeter Philippine Community Choir in particular organised and lead volunteers to be at the festival site for the whole two days.

Representative of the Polish community in Exeter, volunteer for Respect Festival, Magdalena Janowska said: “It was a pleasure to have an opportunity to join such a great event as Respect Festival. It is the second year I was involve in this celebration, which gathered all communities together. In this time, once a year, in Belmont park all community in Exeter can share with others their experience, meet new people, learn something new about other cultures and also listen great music and what is important, also have fun. I spent three great days on respect festival helping to prepare the site on Friday, follow on Saturday and Sunday during the festival on the Diversity Stage. I had listen a great music, met brilliant bands and amazing people. I have seen Indian pop dances, as good as from Bollywood. I am looking forward to next year’s celebration and I am very curious about programming for the next year.”


This year we printed an A5 brochure listing events and activities which was given out at the festival. We also gave out A6 flyers around the city.  We also used our website and other social media tools including Facebook and Twitter, which were kept live and up to date both before and during the festival by a brilliant team of volunteers. Leading up to the main event Exeter Respect Festival 2016 was at the heart of our city centre.  Also we had our Community Variety Show launch event at the Barnfield Theatre, that with kind support provided a free venue and hosted our launch. With Exeter Phoenix Centre in partnership we organised an event on 4 December 2015 to promote our core message of ‘All Different All Equal’. Our publicity was very well received at the Forum at the University of Exeter. Our leafleting in the high street was very appreciated by the people who were eager to take our flyers and excited that the festival was, once again, happening. The festival has become the annual feast for many families who look forward to it every year. Our T-Shirts become so popular that we will need to print more.


2016 was Exeter Respect Festival’s third year as an Alcohol-Free Festival. This decision was taken after long negotiations with the police and Exeter City Council. We reviewed the feedback from the police and the Exeter City Council Health and Safety group, and the public who advised the organising committee, and decided to run 2016 festival alcohol free.  The feedback was excellent, and people responded to our call not to bring alcohol to the festival. We were impressed by our audience and visitors who helped us to respect our wishes. Families, children and young people were able to move everywhere in the park without feeling uncomfortable or intimidated. As a result the event was more inclusive, and the alcohol-free policy enabled everyone to move around, to sing, to dance and eat, sit, stand and move freely everywhere.


“Excellent Experience”
“The festival was absolutely fantastic, Thank you once again for putting on such a beautiful, worthwhile event”
“Excellent, great there’s a variety of cultural diversity within stalls – vibrant and multicultural place”.
“Excellent, understand why there isn’t any alcohol, but I miss it”.
“Excellent Outstanding organisation”
“Good, Exeter College stand and free cakes at St. Mathew’s, shame that the festival starts so early now”.
“Very good, lovely many activities, stalls and food”
“Very good, nice atmosphere”.
“Excellent, Very Fun”
“Excellent, great venue plus given for community”
“Lovely atmosphere; wonderful people! I am glad”
“Outstanding organisation getting better and better amazing” Sherry Rouhipour
“Over all I loved it, I did enjoy it all, not sure about having dogs at the festival”


Exeter Respect Festival 2016 used bio diesel rather than the red version. There was no environmental damage or complaints from the neighbourhood. Everyone who came through the gate heard the slogan, ‘All Different, All Equal’. This is what Exeter Respect Festival stands for – bringing people together every year. Only together can we build a society free from prejudices. Exeter Respect Festival is the platform for all people regardless of their background, colour, creed or ethnicities, coming together to celebrate diversity in the heart of Exeter.


Exeter City Council was the main sponsor for Exeter Respect Festival 2016.  It was a real challenge to budget for Exeter Respect Festival 2016. Due to the economic climate that we live in, many organisations have cut back on their financial support. Regardless of our policy of no alcohol at the festival we were more creative in managing our budget. We were thankful, we consulted our sponsors who agreed that we should cut the publicity in terms of hard copy, and rely more heavily on social media including Facebook and Twitter, as well as word of mouth. Evolve Promotion once again provided us with this year’s artwork and publicity materials. Devon Contract Waste kindly offered to collect the waste without any fee. More voluntary organisations such as Hannah’s at Seal Hayne helped providing a drum kit and backline for the community stage. All the organisations who contributed in kind to support the festival have added value for money and did it as they believe in the festival and the message it promotes. Regardless of their cuts they have managed to find other ways to support Exeter Respect and do their best. Widsith & Deor Cabaret Tipi have been involved for six years and managed to line up their stage at the festival and run workshops and activities adding a colourful rainbow to the festival. Barnfield Theatre have offered their space for the past 2 years to launch the festival and offered their support to promote the festival. Clifton Hill Centre, Newtown Primary school, Football in the Community Trust and the Range offered their space to be used as a car park. Newtown Association supported the festival by offering space. Likewise the Scrapstore every year has offered the supply of electricity for the festival if needed. Exeter Community Initiatives and St. Sidwell’s Centre were able to contribute financially in addition to providing free venues for meetings. Special thanks to Devon County Council Councillors Andy Hannan, Richard Westlake and Emma Morse for their support and financial contribution from their locality budget. The 2016 Festival had a very hard journey financially, but in the end the budget was healthy and we have managed to break even.


We had our great special people who gave their time and dedication to organise the festival and been behind the scene, they have opted to be anonymous. The festival had its organising committees and a management committee including the board of directors and its members, a programming committee, a stall holders committee,  a volunteers committee, media and social media committee, a health and safety committee, a legal advisor and the Young Ambassadors.

All worked hard to make it to the end and enjoy organising the festival. People dedicated their time for regular monthly meetings, specifically during the last month prior to the festival with weekly committee meetings to ensure that the festival ran smoothly.  The outcome’s overall feedback was excellent and gets better and better. Well done and thank you very much indeed from the Board of Directors and its members to all those who tried their best to support and make Exeter Respect Festival 2016 a successful festival.  Dedication, inspiration, willingness, and positive energy were invested, we are one voice, one community “All Different All Equal”.


Platinum Sponsor

Exeter City Council

Gold Sponsors

Unison South West • University of Exeter • Spectrum Housing Group
Devon County Council • Sliver Sponsor • Devon County Unison

Bronze Sponsors

Multilingual • Devon Faith & Belief Forum • Exeter Cathedral
Devon & Cornwall Constabulary • Exeter Community Initiatives
Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service
Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall
Young Devon • Friends of Exeter Respect Festival 2016 • YMCA
Grocery Shop Best One • Trade Union Unite • RAMM

In-Kind Sponsorship or Contra Deal

Devon Contract Waste • Wiseman Production • Newtown Community Association
Hannah’s at Seal Hayne • Widsith & Deor Theatre • Barnfield Theatre • Exeter Phoenix Art Centre
Newtown Primary School • The Range Golf • University of Exeter Students Guild
Football in the Community Exeter City Football Club • Clifton Hill Sport Centre/Legacy Leisure Clifton Hill Sport Centre/Legacy Leisure • Centre for Human Rights and Social Equality CIC
St. Sidwell’s Community Centre • Phonic FM • Exeter Scrapstore • Puxley Sound Ltd
Clive Chilver Photography • Sound Events Ltd • Evolve Promotion
Exeter Foyer • Devon Accounting Services • Sammy Sound