Chichester Cathedral Chancellor Daniel Inman joined the Festival of Chichester committee – for a festival which was forced off the calendar, along with countless other arts, sporting and community events when the coronavirus crisis hit.
The Festival of Chichester quickly vowed to be back again next year, all the stronger, and Zoom meetings are already under way as the festival committee starts to ponder 2021.
Here Daniel shares his thoughts about the festival that never was; looks forward to happier times next year; and reflects on the close bond which has always existed between the Festival and the Cathedral.
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!