A Festival for everyone: that is the aim of Romsey Festival 2014, which runs from 4th to 20th July 2014. Festival Chairman Dick Hewett explains that the name has been changed from the Romsey Arts Festival in recognition of the ever-broadening spread of events and activities which are being included under the Festival umbrella, entirely due to working together with other organisations in the area.
“Inclusion of the Romsey Carnival’s Bed Race in the Festival’s publicity is just one example of working together with other organisations to mutual benefit”, explained Mr Hewett. “It would be difficult to describe the Bed Race as an Arts event – yet it is entertainment and worthy of recognition as part and parcel of the culture of Romsey, and we want to help promote it.”
The success of the Romsey Festival, of which this year’s will be the 10th, is due to it being a great example of partnership between local organisations, working together to produce such an eclectic mix of interests. Whereas most Arts Festivals are run by a single organisation which coordinates, books and promotes the festival events, in Romsey the events are organised and promoted by individual organisations. The Festival committee help to build the schedule, coordinate ticket sales, and provide over-arching publicity and promotion.
The partnership includes working with as many of the arts, music and drama groups in the area as possible; with other organisations who promote their own events, such as Music In Romsey and the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens; with local venues, such as Romsey Abbey, the United Reformed Church, and the Lantern Theatre; and with performers themselves, from individual musicians to large groups.
The Festival, which is run every three years, also coincides with two other popular annual events in the town – the Beggars Fair and the Romsey Carnival. Both will be featured in the publicity for the Festival. “It demonstrates the breadth of events and activities available to the general public during this unique fortnight”, explained Mr Hewett. “It is down to the initiative of others that the events are developed and promoted, very often for charitable purposes rather than commercial gain.”
One prime example in the 2014 Festival will be a Schools Choir Festival concert at 7pm on Friday 11th July in Romsey Abbey, which will also form part of the annual calendar of concerts for Music In Romsey. Local musicians and choirs from Mountbatten School, Romsey School, Kings School Winchester, Romsey Abbey Primary School, and Halterworth Primary School, together with the Romsey Youth Choir, are joining forces for a grand concert to raise funds for Jane Scarth House. With all proceeds going to an extremely worthy local cause, this concert at the heart of the Festival promises to be a popular event deserving of good support from participants as well as the public.
A second event is La Ronde, the regular tour of Romsey’s gardens, arranged by the Romsey & District Society, another partnership organisation. With around 13 gardens already promising to open their gates to the public, the organisers are close to their target. Anyone in the town who would also be proud to display their horticultural prowess to the public between 12 noon and 6pm on Sunday 13th July is invited to contact the La Ronde organiser Pearl Pocock on 01794 516546.
This year’s Festival promises to be a wide-ranging celebration of Romsey’s arts, history and culture, thanks to the multitude of organisations in the town and surrounding area who are all preparing for the fortnight’s events.