For three weeks in June and July, Basingstoke will show its spectacular colours as the town presents the Basingstoke Festival, a cultural extravaganza that will be the first of its kind to be held in the borough. From 22nd June to 15th July, 20 venues around Basingstoke will play host to a whopping 90 events, showcasing the many thrilling cultural treats that the community has to offer.
Couched amongst the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the excitement over this summer’s London Olympics, the Basingstoke Festival aims to also make 2012 a year of local significance for Basingstoke and Deane. Cultural organisations from all over the borough will be presenting their skills, with children, young people, and diverse communities all contributing to the exciting programme. Drama, music, dance, comedy, film, creative arts… Basingstoke’s vibrant and varied creative scene will be on display, giving people the chance to sample the wealth of talent that might otherwise go undiscovered.
The surrounding area itself will not go ignored, and enthusiasts of local nature and history will be pleased to hear that the Festival will also feature talks, walks, and events to explore and celebrate the rich heritage of the Hampshire borough and its beautiful countryside.
Last week saw the official launch of the event at the Basingstoke Discovery Centre in Festival Place. There, Cllr Elaine Still, borough representative for Communities, Sport, and Culture, spoke of Basingstoke as “a place to be proud of”, adding that the Festival will be “a real community celebration of the best of the local cultural scene.”
The Philharmonia Orchestra will trumpet the official start to the Festival in a fantastic concert at the Anvil Arts centre this Friday. The show will feature the first performance of a new composition from young British composer Joseph Phibbs: ‘Rivers to the Sea’ has been co-commissioned with the Philharmonia Orchestra as part of The Anvil’s 18th birthday celebrations. And on Wednesday 11th July – the day of the Olympic Torch passing through Basingstoke – The Anvil will again host a Festival highlight, when The Complete World Of Sport (Abridged) will be performed through the zany capers of the Reduced Shakespeare Company.
Other Festival venues will include The Malls Shopping Centre, National Trust properties The Vyne and Basing House, The Walled Garden at Down Grange, as well as museums, bars, parks, and community centres. The War Memorial Park will also see action over the weekend of 14th-15th July, when it will host the two-day Basingstoke Live festival. As the town’s flagship musical event, Basingstoke Live is the perfect way to bring a resounding end to the three-week cultural pageant.
The council has high hopes for the Festival – as well they might! It is hoped that the many performances and shows will call attention to the existing creative scene in the borough while also attracting national and international arts activity, thus stimulating partnerships and also providing broader opportunities for residents and businesses. What’s more, interest garnered by the Festival may help to attract additional funding and sponsorship to the area, allowing its cultural organisations to grow and thrive still further. Considering the current squeeze on arts funding, the Festival seems a fantastic strategy to promote the importance of creativity on a community level and to buoy up local groups and organisations.
The full programme is available on the council’s website, or alternatively at http://www.basingstokefestival.co.uk, and has certainly whet our appetites! In addition, for those eager not only to attend but also to get involved, the website also has a form that allows you to get in touch as a supporter or volunteer.