This year see’s a newly formed Festival Committee of highly qualified local professionals who are community driven, passionate about Arundel and its annual Festival and volunteering their time to make a positive difference. Chaired by Sharon Blaikie, the Committee brings a wealth of experience, expertise and connections in entertainment and event liason, safety and logistics, volunteer coordination, PR and marketing and finance as well as project management support from Arundel Town Council; a dedicated group working together, attending regular online meetings to consider the viability and possible delivery of a now smaller revised event programme for the town due to these extra ordinary times. Since this was written we have now cancelled.
The later August date of the Arundel Festival compared to other events and Festivals that have been cancelled earlier e.g. the Fundraiser in June, has naturally been an extra challenge for the committee, where the 10 day Festival programme had remained under constant and close review. This has required as flexible an approach as possible in response to the evolving circumstances and the commitment to being ready with an event for the community to enjoy and boost morale as and when they could safely emerge which will not now be possible this year. The committee’s focus has also been on supporting their local community, families, key workers and charities as well as consulting with the many valued event organisers who significantly contribute to the Festival, the majority of whom who have also continued to consider their options until May/June time.
They recognise how important it is to nurture and optimise these events and voluntary groups and organisations which contribute to making Arundel such a special place to live and work. The committee and all involved endeavour to make these events as sustainable and progressive as possible for our community to enjoy for many years to come, promoting Arundel as a cultural, arts centre and a wonderful place to visit.
Due to the unpredictable ongoing nature of Covid-19 and the indications from the government pointing to social distancing being in place for many months to come, they are looking at the virtual option now. Their priority has always been to comply with all government and public health guidance, mitigate all risk and listen to the experts. The committee are considerate and have taken the most responsible course of action in cancelling in order to ensure the future resilience and reputation of the festival as well as protecting the welfare of the community, artists and audiences.
The Festival is utilising their time wisely by being proactive and investing, encouraging and inspiring new ideas and initiatives in order to seize greater potential success for the future. This includes engaging in a number of webinar and brainstorming sessions to explore e.g. marketing, looking to build a strong destination brand recognition through a new Festival website and media presence as well as virtual video ideas and stunts. They recognise Festival is good and needs to continue to evolve to complement “Arundel” – its history, culture and location.
Along with a new Committee, the Festival also has a new name this year… Arundel Festival of the Arts! This title is reflective of the eclectic mix of visual arts, drama, music, dance, comedy and street entertainment from exceptional creative local talent and carefully curated national artists including spectacular community events that the Festival brings to Arundel each year for all communities to enjoy.
It allows for all art forms to be equally placed and importantly “future-proof” for other specialist events to take place in Arundel with their choice of a clear title and thereby opens up a whole range of possibilities. Subsequently, they are eager to develop a strong branding positioning to inspire creative ideas for the event to see how it will develop into a new and exciting brand for the Festival in 2021 with expert support from local AKIN creatives.
During these exceptional times where we are all in the crisis together, there has been great kindness, understanding and camaraderie. The Festival committee value the solid team that they have become in such a short space of time.