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Monday 22 September 2014, David Bowden

Battle of Ideas 2014: let battle commence!

With the festival weekend less than a month away, the tenth Battle of Ideas gets underway today with the launch of our ambitious programme of UK and international satellite events.

Tonight, hot on the heels of the Scottish independence vote, the UK satellites launch by debating the increasing role referenda have in twenty-first century politics. Hosted by and organised in partnership with Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Faversham, What’s the point of referendums today? will examine whether the rise of direct democracy is a sincere attempt to revitalise political engagement across the demos, or simply an attempt by national governments to avoid responsibility for major political decisions. The panel features sociologist Frank Furedi, UKIP MEP Janice Atkinson, former spin doctor Jo Phillips and University of Kent politics lecturer Dr Paolo Dardanelli, and is chaired by the Institute’s own Craig Fairnington.

Simultaneously, the international satellite programme will kick off in Athens by asking Can Greece really reform? Hosted by long-running Battle partners the Free Thinking Zone, the panel features Daily Telegraph Brussels correspondent Bruno Waterfield, entrepreneur Gregory Farmakis and campaigner Gregory Vallianatos, chaired by Dr Nikos Sotirakopoulos, debating the future of the Greek economy under tough austerity measures.

Tomorrow evening our events continue in Athens, with a stellar panel gathering at the Hellenic American Union – another highly valued Battle partner in Greece - to discuss whether state funding of high arts can be justified in tough economic times. Opera: are we all invited? features Institute of Ideas associate fellow Dolan Cummings alongside leading figures from Greece’s arts world discussing how we value the arts in the twenty-first century, chaired by Alan Miller.

This is just a flavor of the many debates the Battle will be instigating over the course of the next two months either side of the main festival weekend on 18-19 October. Do take the opportunity to look at the programmes for the UK (http://www.battleofideas.org.uk/2014/satellites/9042) and internationally for full details of the size and scope of the Battle Satellite 2014 line-up.

We hope to see you there!

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