Thinking Freely in Gateshead

the BBC Radio 3 Free thinking logo BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking festival is coming to Gateshead this weekend

Earlier this year, Richard Branson opined that Britain would benefit from having more mavericks, people who are prepared to challenge the status quo and find new ways of doing things.

Is Branson right or is conformity and adherence to tried and tested methods of doing things the best way to get things done?

This year, BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of ideas returns to the Sage Gateshead. Running today until Sunday it will consist of a weekend of debate, new ideas, live music and performance.

'Tearing up the Rule Book'
A picture of Matthew Dodd, Radio 3 head of speech programmes Matthew Dodd, Radio 3 Head of Speech Programmes

Radio 3 Head of Speech Programmes Matthew Dodd said: "This year's theme is Tearing up the Rule Book. This is a time of great technological change when the people who are achieving things are those that appear to be doing things differently.

"We're asking whether that is true or not. We'll be looking at whether you need to be a non-conformist or a rule-breaker or are conformists and rule-makers just as important as ever.

We'll be discussing why the idea of rule-breaking has become so attractive to business, politics, music and culture and other areas of public life and asking which of our rule books should be kept firmly intact."

Poets and pop-up studios

This year's opening Free Thinking lecture will be delivered by American poet Claudia Rankine and guests and speakers include scientist and atheist Richard Dawkins, actresses Sheila Hancock and Juliet Stevenson and journalist Simon Heffer.

One new feature of the event will be a glass, pop up studio so that the audience can see the presenters and producers at work.

Members of the audience will also be given two-channel headphones on which they can either listen to the radio broadcast or switch over to what is happening in one of the auditoriums.

All tickets for Free Thinking are free to the public. The Festival will be broadcast on Radio 3 over the weekend and in the three weeks following the festival. All the debates and lectures will be available as free downloads via Radio 3's Arts and Ideas podcast.

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