George unveils plan to expand art festival

NBEN 02-06-12 BE 3 Belper short plays festival Rebecca Holmes performs clicker slash thingy.
NBEN 02-06-12 BE 3 Belper short plays festival Rebecca Holmes performs clicker slash thingy.
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ENTHUSIASM for the arts in Belper has prompted a man who intended to stage three short plays for the Queen’s Jubilee to draw-up plans for a month-long festival.

During the Queen’s 60th anniversary celebrations, George Gunby’s idea of putting on a short run of performances quickly escalated into a packed schedule of 125 short plays across the town, watched by more than 3,000 people.

Such was the fervour for the theatrical goings-on that George has decided to put on the “Belper Arts Festival” next May - expanding the remit of his event to include literature, film, art, music, dance and theatre.

Mr Gunby said: “In general things worked well and where they didn’t we’ve learnt for next time.

“Throughout I was told by dozens and dozens and dozens of people how much they enjoyed and appreciated the performances and the inventiveness of venue and content. The Monday night closed to a full room at the Lion Hotel and when it was over people left with smiles and asking if we will be doing it again next year.

“By announcing The Belper Arts Festival now we are giving ourselves time to put together a really strong event. Time tends to pass very quickly when you are putting together an event like this.”

Planning has already begun on the new festival, which will have a focus on local talent. Workshops and training elements that could help realise the ambitions of hundreds of aspiring young artists and performers across the area will be included as part of the package for the festival. A new playwright competition has also already been launched - allowing writers to gain widespread exposure for 20 minute romance, comedy or thriller scripts.

Mr Gunby continued: “Like the Belper Short Play Festival the event is aimed at including local people and encouraging them to have a go and get involved. It’s about inclusivity not exclusivity.

“We want to tell people about Belper and the talent that is in Belper and for them to enjoy it by coming back again and again.”

Mr Gunby will not be alone in organising the vast event, which will start on May 4 and end on May 27, 2013.

Each artistic element of the festival - which will be allocated its own week of events - will be managed by a curator who will work in partnership with Mr Gunby. The marketing of the overall event will be the responsibility of the over-arching Belper Arts Festival Club.

Mr Gunby continued: “With so much enthusiasm for so many elements it was felt that it was important to give each enough time to fulfill it’s potential.

“By spreading the arts festival over the month of May we are giving people the opportunity to visit lots of different events in different sorts of venues.”

Three of the festivals “funniest” and “best” plays from this year are set to tour Derbyshire in September.

For more information about the shows or information on next year’s festival phone Mr Gunby on 01773 294362, 07845 400914, email or log-on to