New arts festival will shine a light on historic town this summer

By Ginny Ware   |   Totnes Reporter   |
Sunday 15th May 2022 6:00 am
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The countdown to a brand new, exciting summer arts and culture festival in the medieval town of Totnes has begun.

Organisers hope the 10-day extravaganza will shine a spotlight on Totnes and put the town on the map as a fringe festival destination and creative hub.

International theatre company, NDP Circus, based locally, is behind plans for the festival which will feature more than 70 events in a myriad of venues throughout the town.

The first event of its kind in the South Hams, Totnes Festival and Arts and Culture is due to take place from August 15 to 24.

Nationally and internationally renown acts will make an appearance in the varied programme of shows, workshops and events that encompass visual arts, music, theatre, circus and dance.

Headline acts include the Globe on Tour performing Julius Caesar at Dartington, singer-songwriter Rasha Nahas making her Devon debut at St Mary’s Church, plus a spectacular outdoor aerial show by NDP Circus taking place on and around a church steeple.

There will also be a grand procession on the festival Sunday from Follaton to Bridgetown featuring giant puppets, music, dance and a spectacular firelit finale.

Anyone interested in taking part in the parade is invited to an information and inspiration session at Totnes Civic Hall from 11am to 1pm on Sunday May 22.

Arts champion and town mayor, Cllr Ben Piper, said: “I am so excited that we are finally getting a true broad-based arts festival off the ground in Totnes.

“This is an idea that has been in many people’s minds for decades and I’m proud to have been part of the town council team that has worked with NDP over the last couple of years to help it happen.”

"NDP director Paul Liengaard and his team have worked really hard to develop the genuinely inclusive community partnerships that makes a thing like this possible.

Paul Liengaard (. ) (.)

“I’m hoping the festival will give a diverse range of people great opportunities to step up and allow the underlying skills and good will in our community to shine through.

“I’m confident there will be some truly memorable events, which will make a great contribution to the culture and wellbeing of the town we love and importantly, set the basic framework for events for years to come.”

Festival organiser Paul said: “Totnes Festival is a festival with a difference – grassroots, non-profit and community led.

“It is a celebration of place and belonging, a chance to fill the town with creativity and make it burst at the seams with artistry.

“With a multitude of free events taking place outdoors alongside events at the Barrel House and Totnes Cinema, there is something for everyone.

“Supported by Totnes Town Council, South Hams District Council and Visit Totnes, we want to celebrate the diversity of Totnes and Bridgetown and facilitate a cultural exchange with international and national artists.”

The deputy leader of South Hams Council, Cllr Hilary Bastone, said: “We are pleased the Community Recovery Grant we allocated on behalf of the Government is being used for this really great Festival of Arts and Culture.

“Totnes is a hive of creativity, and this event will really showcase all that it has to offer and bring the town alive with these many free activities.

“It’s definitely a festival not to be missed.”

Totnes Town Council gave the festival a grant of £10,000 from its arts budget.

South Hams Council declined to say how much it donated from its recovery grant - designed to support organisations undertaking projects that provide social and economic benefits throughout the region.

The festival has also put in a £60,000 funding bid to Arts Council England.

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