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How Can Bristol Meet the Challenges of the Future?  State of the City 2023

Festival of the Future City

Wills Memorial Building  |  Free, booking required

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In our 11th State of the City address and debate, Mayor Marvin Rees looks at how Bristol has changed over the past eight years and what challenges it faces now and in its future.

Cities are going through great change, with the challenges facing them increasing all the time: funding services in a time of austerity; securing growth that is fair, sustainable, and inclusive; building resilient communities; and dealing with the social care crisis. The pandemic and its long-term effects have compounded these issues, with additional challenges coming from the worsening impacts of climate change, greater levels of immigration and changes in work. 

Joining the mayor are Evelyn Welch (Vice Chancellor, University of Bristol); Kat Lyons, Bristol City Poet and the Youth Mayors. Following this will be a panel debate about the future of cities and how we make them work for all. Joining the line-up will be architect Indy Johar; Immy Kaur, Director of Civic Square Birmingham and Marwa al-Sabouni, Syrian architect and author of Building for Hope: Towards an Architecture of Belonging.

Marvin Rees

Marvin Rees is the elected Mayor of Bristol. He entered the political world having graduated from Operation Black Vote and Labour Future Candidate programmes.

Evelyn Welch is Vice Chancellor of the University of Bristol and a scholar of the Renaissance and Early Modern Period. Prior to her appointment at the University of Bristol, she was a Professor of Renaissance and Senior Vice President (Arts & Sciences) at King’s College London.

Kat Lyons (they/them) is a Queer Bristol-based writer, performer, workshop facilitator and creative producer whose work is grounded in everyday politics and a love of storytelling. Kat is the current Bristol City Poet (2022-2024), and recently finished touring their debut solo show Dry Season, a spoken word theatre show exploring gender, age and menopause.

Indy Johar is an architect, co-founder of 00 and most recently Dark Matter. On behalf of 00, he has co-founded multiple social ventures from Impact Hub Westminster to Impact Hub Birmingham. He has also co-led research projects such as The Compendium for the Civic Economy, whilst supporting several 00 explorations/experiments including wikihouse and opendesk.

Immy Kaur

Immy Kaur is a co-founder and director of CIVIC SQUARE. CIVIC SQUARE is a public square, neighbourhood lab, and creative and participatory platform focused on regenerative civic and social infrastructure within neighbourhoods.

Marwa al-Sabouni is a Syrian architect and author of Building for Hope: Towards an Architecture of Belonging. She is an urban thinker who believes that architects have a duty to stimulate social cohesion. When war enveloped her city, Homs, she refused to leave and remained a virtual prisoner in her home for two years. In her autobiography, The Battle for Home: The Vision of a Young Architect in Syria, al-Sabouni analyses how architecture and city planning have played a role in fuelling violence and civil conflict by distorting community relationships and fragmenting societies.

Mya Parker is Youth Mayor of Bristol and a student a Bristol Cathedral Choir School. She represents South Bristol within the Bristol City Youth Council, of which she is a member for the fifth consecutive year, and is part of the campaign group focused on the mental and physical health of young people. She was also part of the One City Plan’s Transport Board and a Youth Mayor, and was a part of the Youth Council during its previous term, during which she was a part of the Environment and Transport campaign group, in the environment subgroup.

Booking Information

Ticket booking is via Eventbrite. Please review Eventbrite’s terms and conditions and Privacy Policy as Bristol Ideas do not accept any responsibility or liability for the policies. You can read Bristol Ideas’ Privacy policy here.

Please note we only refund tickets if the event is cancelled. Events start punctually and, out of consideration to other audience members and speakers, our policy is not to admit or issue refunds to latecomers. Full Terms and Conditions here.


  • The Reception Room in the Wills Memorial Building has an induction loop systems.
  • There is level access via double doors to the left of the main entrance and a lift to the Great Hall and Reception Room.
  • There are accessible toilets for public use on the ground floor.
  • Guide and assistance dogs are welcome.
  • There is free disabled on-street parking available on University Road.
  • More information here.

If you have specific access concerns, please do contact us with any questions.

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