Tuesday, July 26, 2011

GUEST POST Arts Fresco, Market Harborough, 9-11 September 2011

Hazel Cook, the festival's director, explains that this year's Arts Fresco will be bigger, brighter, and bolder than ever before.

Born of a chance conversation along the lines of, "Oh go on then... I really don’t see why not," Arts Fresco is now the most popular street arts event the East Midlands, attracting audiences from all over the country to Market Harborough.

The event includes a sparkling mix of innovative performances ranging from the beautiful to the astonishing, the whimsical to the bizarre and on to the downright silly. In addition to the professional line up, the family friendly programme includes lots of interactive workshops where anyone can have a go at trying out a new arts based skill or making something special.

It is amazing to think that Arts Fresco has been going for 10 years now and has become such an important part of Market Harborough’s annual calendar. Like many other locals, my initial involvement with the event was as a happy member of the audience. I distinctly remember turning up in the centre of town one day and being astonished at the exotic mix of characters who had rolled into town. I was dazzled, amused and left completely speechless by some of the acts and resolved to find out if there was anything I could do to help out…

Volunteering of course being a slippery slope, I soon found myself in charge of the marketing and then, as the founder George Kitson (then in his mid eighties) and the then artistic director Cat Loriggio decided to step down, I found myself the chairman.

This proved a fairly lonely (and rather scary) place for a while as working with other members of the board we slowly raised the money, then recruited our festival management team and then the acts for our first Arts Fresco event. Thankfully, all our hard work paid off and we were rewarded not only with another brilliant day out for all the family but also with a huge increase in the numbers attending and the knowledge that we’d seamlessly managed the transition to the new team. Phew!

Arts Fresco had traditionally been run on a Saturday relying on passing shoppers for an audience however, moving the event to the Sunday proved hugely successful with the audience almost doubling year on year and local traders enjoying the benefits of a brand new trading day.

This year, as part of the 10th Anniversary celebrations we have made another bold decision and that is to move the main event to Welland Park. This means we can spread the event over three days and introduce more complex acts into the programme.

This year we are delighted to have the award winning Bash Street Theatre company performing the amazing CliffHanger! in the Arts Fresco Big Top. We also have the brilliant Best of Leicester Comedy Festival Review Show with tickets to both booked in advance earning free entry to the Enchanted Evening Promenade itself an extraordinary opportunity to see the Millennium Mile magically lit up with fire sculptures, candles and other twinkling lights.

The programme will also include an innovative Talking Statue trail – these will be made by teams of local people working alongside the acclaimed Spiral Theatre company and will be sited in prominent locations all around town in the week leading up to the event. Each sculpture will have its own story to tell and these will be available to download direct from the Arts Fresco website.

We have an amazing line up for our traditional Sunday programme featuring some of the country’s leading street performers – acts I’m sure will delight, inspire and wow new and old members of the audience alike.

If you'd like to become part of it do please email me, Hazel Cook.

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