Thursday was the first day of the Arts Development UK conference at Blackpool Winter Gardens. The programme included a number of study tours to arts, cultural and heritage venues in Blackpool and Preston. Being Blackpool based, it made sense to go and see what our neighbours were up to at the other end of the M55.Advertisement
So following a visit to the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, our group of Arts Development officers from around the UK and local art/heritage volunteers arrived at the New Continental for an introduction to Preston Guild from the Festival director Stella Hall (and a rather delicious piece of cake).
So what’s an 800 year old festival (that only happens every 20 years) got to do with us?
Well, as Stella outlined, we have a lot in common. It’s all about people, understanding the needs and supporting the talents of our local communities, encouraging cultural access and participation, promoting community cohesion.
The message to local creative communities was clear: the Guild gives you a great and rare opportunity to join up with other organisations large and small, to showcase the flourishing local cultural scene, to be part of something big. Organisations from further afield will also benefit from the Guild, as Preston serves Lancashire as a transport hub helping to connect visitors to cultural events in other local areas.
The Guild website is very helpful for small voluntary groups like ours with plenty of useful information on organising your own community events including events checklists and details of how to apply for temporary events notices.
A few Guild facts:
•The starting date of Guild Week has been the same since 1562, with the Guild Court opening on the Monday after the feast of the decollation of St John the Baptist. This year the Guild week will break with tradition and cover ten days (31st August to 9th September) to celebrate Preston’s 10 years of city status.
• The programme is made up of a wide variety of predominantly free events, large and small from street parties to civic processions, intimate music performances to proms in the park.
• Funding for the Guild totals £4 million, which consists of grants and contributions in kind (e.g. offers of non-financial assistance). It is spent on the events and on the preparation and planning period of two years. The funding comes from various streams such as the Arts Council, the Legacy Trust and the sale of merchandise.
• Preston’s first hot air balloon ascent took place during the Guild celebrations of 1822. A Mr Livingstone fell out of the balloon and broke his leg!
Guild information and merchandise will be available from Preston Tourist Information Centre, which will open in November 2011, or you can visit www.prestonguild2012.com.
Photo by whatsthatpicture on Flickr.