Arundel Festival 2017 is promising a “ten-day street party” bringing the whole community together.
Festival chairman Michael Tu is delighted to unveil the programme for this year’s late-summer arts and community extravaganza running from August 19-28. The line-up goes online this morning (Wednesday) at http://www.arundelfestival.co.uk.
It will be Michael’s first as chairman and the third for the new committee which came in to start the festival afresh.
“The best thing about it is that it is a real community event,” Michael says, “covering such a wide range of arts and theatre and entertainments. We have expanded it into some vintage events at the weekends.”
It’s a remarkable programme for a town which punches above its weight, Michael says: “People forget that the population of Arundel is only about 3,500. You meet people that have heard of Arundel and they think it must be something like 10-20,000, but it is not. It is just that Arundel has got such a big profile across the county and across the country.”
As ever, the festival is built around the constants, including the ever-popular Arundel Gallery Trail and the well-established theatre trail, a chance to see eight plays a day over eight days. There will also be a festival production from Drip Action Theatre Company who are this year staging a Tom Stoppard, plus a run from the Arundel Players who are offering Chess: The Musical. There will also be Shakespeare at the Castle, marking the 950th anniversary of Arundel Castle’s initial construction. There will also be a busy programme of Words and Music in Private Houses, plus events, as usual, in the Arundel Jailhouse.
“These are the things that we have built up over the years, but there are also more recent things too. The Jubilee Gardens music has become a focal point of the festival, and there is a lovely atmosphere there every day that’s open, plus this year we are trying to add some cinema as well. We did the Dragon Race last year for the first time, and it was hugely popular. We are looking forward to doing that again.”
Street theatre will also be central: “During both weekends and on Bank Holiday Monday the streets of the town are alive with jugglers, singers, stilt walkers, magicians, bands, Morris dancers and many other talented artists who entertain the visitors in style. While partly funded by the committee’s fundraising, the street entertainment budget benefits enormously from a very generous grant from the Arundel Town Council which enables the festival committee to spend a significant sum making the entertainment first class.
“The atmosphere of Arundel is lovely when the roads are closed. We have built up a whole list of acts over the years. Some come back and each year some are new. Children love the street theatre, spontaneous things happening in front of them, and we have got some lovely acts this year coming from across the country.”
This year isn’t particularly a year of innovations, Michael concedes: “I don’t think there is anything particularly new. One of the things we were really aware of last year was just how busy it was, and everything went so well. I think this year is more a case of polishing a bit, of titivating a bit. We almost got to the point where the town was full. We thought we can’t really grow much bigger in terms of events without straining on the town. We want to be manageable, and we don’t want to grow significantly beyond what we have got. We just want to be able to do things just a little bit better. Polish was the word I came up with!
“The previous committee did five or six years and did a fantastic job and ended up doing more and more each year. Three years ago it was slightly rocky when a new committee had to step forward, and we delivered in the first year. Last year we built on that.”
And now comes the polish…
n New for this year is Arundel’s Got Talent! open to young people aged eight-16 who can sing a song or perform an instrumental piece. The winner gets the opportunity to record and mix any song in a professional recording studio. Auditions are being held on Monday, July 24 from 5-8pm at the Victoria Institute, Tarrant Street, Arundel. The competition itself will take place during the acoustic hour in Jubilee Gardens during the Arundel Festival with the preliminary round on Sunday, August 20, 11am-12 noon with the grand final on Saturday, August 26 from 2-3.30pm. To enter, email Sharon@landonsounds.com giving your name, the act and your contact details.
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