Festival co-ordinator Barry Smith said: “The Festival of Chichester has very quickly achieved a vital place in the cultural life of the city. It hardly seems possible that seven years have elapsed since a group of us formed the new festival to fill the gaping void of the loss of the Chichester Festivities.
After an emergency meeting today about the current virus pandemic, the Festival Chairman and Trustees have issued the following statement.
It’s been the hardest possible decision, but in some ways the easiest. We had no choice: with the heaviest hearts we are cancelling this year’s Festival of Chichester.
You won’t be surprised. It has been an absolutely awful few weeks, and there is every indication it is going to get worse. The health and safety of everyone has to be our paramount consideration. It always has been. A festival this summer wouldn’t just be impossible; it would also be inappropriate.
2020 would have been our eighth Festival and we had a remarkable line-up for you – a wonderful programme that will now never see the light of day, and that is a tragedy. The wider picture in the world is utterly miserable at the moment, and of course, we absolutely must take the wider perspective, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still feel very sad indeed that 2020 will be the year Chichester doesn’t have a summer festival.
Fortunately, we are in a relatively sound position financially; we have always been careful and it seems we might well see the benefits of that. It means that we can look forward to the 2021 festival with a degree of confidence. We are going to make it happen. Rest assured of that.
But at the same time, bringing this year’s festival to this point has still incurred significant costs.
Therefore, if you are a supporter of Festival events, we would ask you if you would possibly consider a voluntary contribution to next year’s Festival, a donation to the bigger cause of ensuring our survival. We would be immeasurably grateful – and you could be helping us hugely bring you an even better Festival in happier times next year. If you wish, please send your contribution as a cheque made payable to Festival of Chichester, to our Treasurer, Nick Sutherland, at Holly House, Chestnut Avenue, Chichester, PO19 5QE.
Alternatively you can make a transfer to our account, Festival of Chichester, sort code 20-45-45, account number 23868052. Mark the payment with the reference “Donation”.
Obviously, our box office launch at the Novium on April 1 has now been cancelled.
Let’s all look after each other in the meantime; let’s all get each other through this; let’s fix the 2021 Festival of Chichester on our collective horizons as a ray of hope the other side of the tough, tough months we are all going to go through.
Stay safe and all our very best wishes
Phil Hewitt, festival chairman; Barry Smith, festival co-ordinator; Festival trustees and committee
A special seasonal treat of words, music and complimentary mince pies is heading Chichester’s way when the Festive Jazz Café takes off in the atmospheric setting of historic St John’s Chapel on Wednesday, 11th December.
The event is in aid of next year’s Festival of Chichester and a scintillating cast of performers will take the stage with a package of seasonal delights.
Headline guest is Mark Wynter, actor and 60s singing icon, who had a number of top twenty hits to his name. Mark has appeared extensively on screen and stage, including Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Sweet Charity and a recent starring role in the West End with Dreamboats and Petticoats.
Chichester audiences will remember Mark for his starring role as Henry V in Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of the Shakespeare classic. Mark is currently on a major tour of the Hitchcock thriller, The Lady Vanishes. He will be performing seasonal readings from favourite writers.
There’s mellow jazz from the eight-piece jazz band, the much-loved Sussex based Jazz Smugglers. Expect all your favourite jazz standards from singer Maria Ball and the band. Jazzy versions of Christmas songs and carols are also on the menu.
Poet Maggie Sawkins, the winner of the Ted Hughes Award, will be reading some of her recent inspiring poetry. Maggie’s lively performance style is always a hit with audiences.
Performing alongside Gareth and David is Emily Rose Smith, whose credits include Goblin Market for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sydmonton festival, Canaries Sometimes Sing (London and Antibes), Dr Faustus with Sam West and Chekhov in the Festival of Chichester.
Festival Co-ordinator Barry Smith said, ‘We’re absolutely delighted to have the support of these fantastic performers who all have Chichester connections and have appeared in our Festival. Audiences can be sure of having a great time and getting the Christmas season underway in swinging style as well as helping support next year’s Festival. All proceeds will go towards the 2020 Festival so it’s an opportunity for people to enjoy themselves knowing they are also supporting further treats next summer.’
Date: Wednesday 11 December, 1930
Venue: St John’s Chapel, 5 St John’s St, Chichester PO19 1UR
Many thanks to everyone who came along to our public meeting last week – a really positive and friendly meeting which gave us plenty to think about (in a positive way!) as we start planning the 2020 Festival of Chichester. Really lovely to see familiar faces – great too to see newcomers.
Huge thanks as always to Chichester City Council for allowing us to borrow the magnificent council chamber… such a wonderful sense of history!
A month-long programme of over two hundred Festival of Chichester events came to a triumphant conclusion on the final Sunday in an inspiring open-air concert in the wonderful grounds of Halnaker Park. Despite rival attractions of the Cricket World Cup and the Wimbledon final, festival goers enjoyed a brilliant session from Amanda Cook on classical guitar, Finlay Wells on Celtic guitar and Meg Hamilton on violin.
Elsewhere the final weekend saw an extra performance of N F Simpson’s absurdist comedies by Chichester Community Theatre at the Penny Royal Open Air Theatre at Bosham, the soaring melodies of Sull’aria by sopranos Tamzin Barnett and Rhiannon Merrifield at Christ Church and Chichester Symphony Orchestra in full swing at St Paul’s. Not to mention Abba’s Angels and the Rolling Tones at the Assembly Room!
It was a fitting conclusion to a fantastic festival – the seventh since it was launched in 2013 to replace the Festivities. This year has seen an eclectic mix of the best of Chichester’s community organisations performing to top standards, supplemented by the visiting stars.
This year we were delighted to welcome international best-selling novelists Victoria Hislop and Louis de Bernières, Oculi Ensemble stopping off en route to the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Russian maestro Victor Ryabchikov, brilliant flamenco guitarist Eduardo Niebla, top jazzers Julian Stringle and Alan Barnes, folk star Pete Coe, the Phoenix Big Band as well as our very own Chichester stars Kate Mosse and Dame Patricia Routledge.
Planning is now underway for 2020. We’ll be back next summer with another scintillating programme of very special festival events.
The picture below shows the statue of John Keats with festival performers Linda Kelsall-Barnett (guitar), Tamzin Barnett (soprano) and Zoe Barnett (guitar) after the Poetry & Music event in Chichester Cathedral where Dame Patricia Routledge read the Odes by Keats.
‘The Festival shop window competition was of an extremely high standard this year,’ says festival co-ordinator Barry Smith. The celebrity judge, James Nesbitt, currently starring in CFT’s This is My Family, and the festival judges together with Chichester BID representative Emily Seex, had a really hard task to choose the winners as there were so many imaginative displays in a record entry.
James Nesbitt’s distinguished CV includes roles in TV’s Cold Feet, the feature film The Hobbit, Bloody Sunday and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Competition entrants were delighted to welcome James to their shops and show him how they had been inspired by the Festival in putting together their wonderful displays.’
The winner was Drapers Yard/Cloth-Kits; with joint runners-up Cats’ Protection in Crane Street and Hedgerose Florists in The Hornet.