Tour de Moon

Creative and executive direction, stage design and nationwide strategy

Tour de Moon was a cosmic adventure, a large-scale public festival of immersive experiences and live events developed in collaboration with our “universal satellite”: the Moon, seen as a character, a landscape and a prompt for radical imagination. The festival, composed of 8 programming strands, aims to reach millions of visitors across the UK and the world in 2022, through live and virtual experiences, supporting youth, nightlife creators, scientists and digital creators through cooperation. With Tour de Moon, we seek new beginnings, to empower others to create, to initiate, to innovate with new thinking and pluralistic practices so that history does not repeat itself on and beyond Earth. This was the UK’s most ambitious publicly funded showcase of creative collaboration including free large-scale events, installations and globally accessible digital experiences.

TASK/CHALLENGE :

Create a free festival to inspire radical thought and imagination in 18-25 year olds around the UK.

From 2020 to 2023, Ben Hayoun- Stépanian fundraised, founded and led the nationwide LGBTQ+ festival Tour de Moon. This was a free, public, pluralistic,  STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) nationwide festival celebrating nightlife and youth countercultures from across the UK and beyond, as part of Unboxed, Creativity in the UK. For this festival, Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios was granted one of the ten multi million pound grant from the four governments of the UK following a nationwide bid and nationwide competition.

APPROACH :

As a part of a very competitive process, Ben Hayoun- Stépanian developed an array of skills and expertise from inception, registration to delivery, non-profit governance, finance and legal, post-production, reporting and legacy. She started and shaped this nationwide festival from scratch, making radical decisions along the way. At the core of Tour de Moon was Ben Hayoun-Stépanian’s dedication to youth countercultures, nightlife, plurality, decolonial practices, social and racial justice, solidarity and equity. For her, this practically meant: redistributing wealth, co creating with youth organizations and policy makers, platforming innovative experimental content, building a visible network of support or what she calls ‘federations of care’ across the country, and decentralizing funds - both physically and digitally - (with more than 13 cities and towns involved with the project and platforms such as OnlyFans, Discord and many other alternative platforms used to co-create and support audiences).

For example, and in practice, she redistributed her public grant via hundreds of new commissions (representing a total of a million pound worth of new creative commissions and bursaries) via international open calls to 18-25 year old women, non binary or womxn, youths and nightlife workers who define themselves with North African, Arab or Latinx heritage, Black African, African Caribbean, South Asian, East Asian, South West Asian heritage, or those artists from communities who have historically been marginalized in festivals for their race or culture, gender or gender expression, d/Deaf or disabled- for a majority of the selected participants this was their first paid creative commission.

Ben Hayoun-Stépanian decided not to have any volunteers as a part of the festival delivery but only paid stewards and trainees who went through EDI (Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity) training with practical training on facilitating accessibility on all the festival venues.

Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios led, oversaw and implemented all fundraising efforts (pitch deck, team building and partner selection, feasibility report and appendix, research programmes, commissioning and programming strategy, communication and marketing strategy, budget creation, learning and engagement strategy, corporate governance, sustainability and accessibility commitments, location appraisals, sourcing strategy etc…).

Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios also oversaw the recruitment of a team of 25 PAYE, 170 external suppliers and subcontractors and 90 board members from all fields of expertise including a dedicated youth board assessing and holding the organization and leadership accountable for all spending, decision-making and programming.  Ben Hayoun- Stépanian worked with her team and the youth board to develop a mentoring schedule around the hundreds new commissions created so as to best support and platform their new projects for the long term: further youth organizations and STEAM international partners were involved throughout the delivery and production processes, all working together to build a festival committed to plurality.

OUTPUT:

For this extremely fast-paced, high-pressure and complex project to develop during COVID and then the COVID recovery phase, with multiple stakeholders from participants to city councils and governmental bodies, Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios lead all operations from creative direction, to feasibility studies, pitch, best production practices, checklists, EDI commitments, staff manuals and onboarding, governance, HR and wellness, youth board and board recruitment, marketing, mentoring and open calls, accessibility, sustainability research and implementation throughout the festival, and reporting, budget and legal management, organizational chart and structures, all strategic decisions across all departments, overseeing all programming and its implementations, and all documentations, implementation and write-ups on legacy. As put by Phil Batty, CEO of Unboxed: Creativity in the UK “The Project was delivered on time and within the budget allocated to Tour de Moon Limited.”

Location appraisals were made on the basis of deprivation indices around England and buildings were fixed so as to host the events in city centers, turning disused, former shopping malls into youth centers and nightclubs.

Ben Hayoun and her team also worked with councils and organized communities to maintain such sites and build policies to support youths and nightlife workers for the long-term. Tour de Moon took intentional steps towards better understanding EDI and meaningfully challenging,confronting and removing systemic inequalities,both internally and externally. Tour De Moon firmly understood that oppression is ultimately intersectional and systemic in the UK and so our commitment to Equity, Diversity and inclusion was all encompassing. All staff at every step of the festival were EDI trained and we made it a point to be sure all our collaborators were as well, if not, we shared our resources with them, activating legacy work on intentional spaces and safe spaces in all the venues. We trained youths and ran incubator programmes in creative fields. Sustainability was also a key part of Tour de Moon, and the team set out to try to make the event as low carbon as possible and to tell the story of the success, challenges and learnings along the way. Tour de Moon had HVO vehicles and electric convoy-followed the Greener Event Award process through A Greener Festival (AGF), an internationally recognised events industry certification for sustainable events, independently audited and verified by qualified AGF assessors providing a robust framework for monitoring and reporting on key sustainability themes.

Another output was redistribution of wealth  - with a public grant redistributed to 878 young artists, whilst empowering them to create and to empower nightlife and new beginnings/ to decolonise knowledge, institutions around the UK and beyond and their outputs/  to support radical imagination - to acknowledge the past and to celebrate with others - we engaged with 1.5 million of people online and in person .