A stalwart of the Preston arts scene is returning to the city for three weeks of music, film, dance, poetry, exhibitions, plays, workshops and more.
Preston Arts Festival, which is in its 18th year, will launch with a free concert, and will feature around 120 events over the three weeks.
The launch will take place on Sunday 29 September at St George’s Church in Lune Street with performances from organist David Scott-Thomas, Octavius Choir, Preston Ukulele Strummers and the Beijing University Dance Troupe.
The aim of the Festival, which is organised every year by Preston Arts Association (PAA), is to promote awareness of the arts in and around Preston. It showcases local arts organisations and individuals, and provides opportunities to have a go at new skills.
PAA Secretary Mike Cracknell said: “The Festival includes plays from the Hall Players, Broughton Players, Longton Players and Dean Taylor Productions.
“PAA was also delighted to welcome Garry Cook to introduce some somewhat more edgy material like that he brought to his highly successful Lancashire Fringe festival.
“National Poetry Day will be celebrated with poetry readings from Damson Poets, Preston Poets’ Society, ScRibble and UCLan, but is open to all.
“Thanks are also owed to the Friends of Winckley Square who are contributing to the Festival for the first time with an impressive range of activities.”
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A wide variety of music events will be taking place, including (deep breath) Gilbert & Sullivan afternoon tea concerts from Penwortham St Leonards G&S, the Silver Bell Jazz Band, the Kell Wind trio, a Rodgers and Hammerstein concert, the Japanese classical pianist Reiko Fujisawa, the Japanese psychedelic rock band Acid Mothers House, the Victoria string quartet, Preston’s own R&B band The Stumble, the Busquitos (a fun Dutch jazz quartet), Free Play (live-looping a capella duo from Canada), folk singer Grace Petrie, rock and blues band Champagne Nippers, cellist Andrew Harsley, an evening of funk, indie and R&B bands and an evening of traditional Moravian cimbalom music.
Many local libraries are featured this year with a wide range of activities including Fun Palaces, musical entertainment and workshops such as embroidery and Chinese calligraphy. There are a number of “Welcome to” events where local groups provide free taster sessions.
The Festival would usually hold events at the Guild Hall, Charter Theatre and the Minster, but with none of these venues available organisers have had to look elsewhere. However they say this fits with their aim to attract a wider audience to the arts.
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Mike said: “Preston Arts Festival was originally designed to showcase the work of Preston Arts Association member groups, but it is now just as much concerned with trying to show the vast range of artistic activity in and around the city.
“Although three major venues are not featured this year, there are events at the Playhouse, the Continental, the Ferret, the Stanley Arms, the Dolphin Inn, the Speakeasy and venues at UCLan in addition to churches, church halls, village halls and libraries too numerous to mention individually.
The Festival will end on Sunday 20 October with a Salsa, Bachata and Kizomba workshop day and evening party led by the former world champion Salsa dancer Phil Kaila with something for all levels of dancing.
The Festival events guide with details of content, times, location and price is available in a number of locations around the city, including libraries. It can also be viewed at prestonarts.com. Note that if you wish to attend any of the films mentioned in the events guide, these will now be held in the Greenbank Building at UCLan.
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Will you be going to any of the Preston Arts Festival events? Let us know win the comments below.