Originally published Winter 2020
COVID-19 has meant the delay and cancellation
of many events throughout this year with planning impossible and restrictions constantly changing. However, thanks to a dedicated team of volun-teers under the guidance of Chair of the Festival Committee, Sharon Blaikie, Arundel can be proud of what has been achieved to support the town, local community and high street.
The team of unpaid volunteers met frequently; put in place a programme for the 2020 Festival; reviewed the principles on which the Festival is run; examined new ideas and initiatives to develop a strong, sustainable future for the Festival and did all of this whilst building on the traditions and successes of past events.
They introduced a new title – Arundel Festival of The Arts – which reflects the eclectic mix of events and activities for all communities to enjoy and the immense range of talented people and events that make up the Festival. When national lockdown in March scuppered their plans for 2020, they switched their attention to a Virtual Festival with a fresh style that ran daily during the usual Festival period. Jane Mote and her team at beechtobeach were instrumental in producing eleven episodes of the Virtual Festival including 32 acts (19 filmed especially for 2020 and 74 videos made for social media), business promotions and a special feature. The films achieved over 24,000 views around the world. All episodes are still available at www.arundelfestival.co.uk
This hugely challenging year has laid solid foundations for the future as the committee now turns its attention to developing plans for 2021. As the only thing that is certain about next year is that nothing is certain, they have a three-tier plan aimed at incorporating the low, medium and high levels of restrictions that might be in place.
They are also reviewing the large number of visitors
who come to enjoy the Festival, particularly over the Bank Holiday Weekend and how this can complement our town and community as a whole, reducing any detrimental effects this may have brought in the past.
The committee is examining ways to produce the fun and excitement of the Festival whilst making it safe and manageable for the town as a whole. Sharon said “I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who made this team effort happen during such a challenging year and to Arundel Town Council for their generous support. The Virtual event has placed the Arundel Festival of the Arts on the map and is motivating people to become involved and support our growing brand.’
Given the restrictions on the event this year, the Committee are continuing to support the Trussell Trust into 2021 as their charitable partner, with support for their local Littlehampton and District Food Bank. The Charity supports a nationwide network of food banks and provides emergency food and support to people locked in poverty whilst campaigning for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.
The Festival team urgently need two roles to be filled- one to handle secretarial tasks and the other to oversee Marketing and PR. To find out more, contact secretary@ arundelfestival.co.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org
Arundel by Candlelight has always been a highlight of the Christmas season and this year, the Chamber of Commerce is determined to deliver the Arundel is Christmas Campaign to support businesses and organisations, even in these current difficult circumstances.
There is a need now more than ever, to provide fun and engaging activities that are not financially onerous, that require minimal resources, do not paralyse the town for residents or businesses and yet, still give Arundel the spirit of Christmas.
With the help of the Akin creative co-operative, the Chamber came up with a plan for four themed weekends for November and December under the banner ‘Arundel s Christmas’, covering Arts, History and Culture. Following the success of the use of video in the summer, it will again be used for Christmas. The ‘Arundel is…….’ campaign is a series of films commissioned and arranged by Arundel Chamber of Commerce, produced by beechtobeach, supported by the Town Council and showcased on Visit Arundel. The videos are being shared or promoted across various tourism bodies and social media platforms, including: Experience West Sussex, Tourism South East, Sussex by the Sea, Visit England, South Downs National Park, Visit Arundel, Arundel Chamber of Commerce and press releases in Sussex newspapers.
The ‘Arundel is Christmas’ video, due to be released in early December on Visit Arundel, will centre on Christmas scenes in Arundel – the lighting of the main Christmas Tree, wreath making, in-dependent shops, pop up performance, Farmers Market Christmas stalls, a competition for Best Dressed Windows, plus much more.
Although Arundel by Candlelight has been postponed this year, there has been a positive energy to create a great emphasis on marketing and usage of video, maintaining and building the brand for next year. Again ATC generously supplied the Chamber with a grant to help to deliver the Arundel is Christmas Campaign.
The revitalization of the Chamber of Commerce earlier this year couldn’t have come at a better time. The Covid threat has meant plans have had to be adaptable, change has needed to be actioned quickly and activities and (virtual) events still need to happen for the good of the town’s businesses, economy and community. There has been an amazing amount of work to do – as Chair of the Chamber Sharon Blaikie says: ‘There is a constant balance to be achieved between supporting the economy and safety for all. However the businesses have continued to do brilliantly, some with an online presence, virtual offerings, takeaways etc. and made it visibly safe and welcoming for customers, who recognise the importance of shopping locally.
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