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Pitching up for the Festival Season: Arts Council England supports festivals through the East

  • Date: 3 May 2012
  • Artform: Music, Theatre
  • Area: South East
young musicians Aldeburgh Young Musicians, Aldeburgh Music 2012, Photo courtesy of Aldeburgh Music 2012

You don’t have to go camping to get a taste of the best festivals this summer –although it may help -as more fantastic arts are on offer at UK festivals, supported through Arts Council England.

From the pebbly beaches of Norfolk to the gorgeous countryside of Cambridge, audiences will be spoiled for choice with international and nationally acclaimed festivals, presenting the most cutting-edge, tantalising arts to your doorstep, from melas to music festivals, and from street theatre to classical and visual arts. Festivals are a great boon to our regions: they promote tourism, support emerging talent, drive the local economy, and with record-breaking audience numbers, are vehicles for sharing great world-class art to even greater numbers of people. 

Here is a selection of 6 of the best and brightest festivals that the Arts Council supports, either through National Lottery funded Grants for the arts scheme or through National portfolio organisation funding. 

Theatre buffs will love HighTide Festival in Halesworth, Suffolk, which offers the most exciting new theatre and runs from 3 to 13 May 2012. This year the festival boasts 18 World and European plays in partnership with emerging companies and leading theatres such as curious directive, Escalator East to Edinburgh, Latitude Festival, The Nuffield, and Soho Theatre. High Tide Festival is run by Arts Council England National portfolio organisation High Tide Festival Theatre.

Micro-festival The Junction Samples takes over the Cambridge venue during the May bank holiday weekend, 5 and 6 May, presenting emerging and new work and works in development. The festival is hosted by The Junction regulars Bryony Kimmings, Brian Lobel and Hunt & Darton and is jam-packed with artists and companies who’ve been nurtured through Arts Council England Grants for the arts such as Little Bulb Theatre, Beady Eye, curious directive, Ross Sutherland, and Melanie Wilson, and Victoria Melody.  

Norfolk & Norwich Festival is another international multi art form festival, this year presenting over 100 awe-inspiring events in outdoor arts, music, theatre, cabaret, circus, dance, visual arts, written word and children’s programme from 11 to 26 May. Highlights include Australian circus group Circa’s beautiful How Like an Angel, which is performed in four cathedrals and part of the London 2012 Festival, and live lit event Shake the Dust, which presents the finest poetry from young people from the East as part of a national Apples & Snakes Project.

The Festival also includes bright talents from the region, supported through our Grants for the arts scheme – like Fringe-First winning Hannah Jane Walker and Chris Thorpe (The Oh F**k Moment), Tim Crouch (I Malvolio), and Bryony Kimmings (The Hall).This year also sees a new work by Suffolk dance choreographer Dan Canham called Ours Was The Fen Country, supported through Grants for the arts. Norfolk & Norwich Festival is an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation

12th PULSE Fringe Festival 2012 in Ipswich is an innovative platform for new work by regional, British and international artists, with 52 shows in 13 days, from 25 May to 9 June. The festival includes theatre, dance, comedy, music, event-led visual arts, participatory theatre and circus-led work. PULSE particularly spotlights new regional talent, supported by Arts Council England Escalator initiative, and showcases 10 Escalator companies – including Holy Rumble, Sean Gittens, Sh!t Theatre, Tatty-del, Shams, and Ira Brand. This year’s PULSE presents two new commissions: a collection of vintage campervans and caravans that will house music gigs, puppet shows, poetry, film and art installations (Campsite), and a new play by Morgan Lloyd-Malcolm. PULSE is run by Arts Council England National portfolio organisation New Wolsey Theatre.

In Snape, Suffolk, the 65th Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts presents over 60 classical music and visual arts performances, discussions, masterclasses, films, and walks from 8 to 24 June. Artistic Director Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Artist in Residence Oliver Knussen bring another exciting programme from around the world. Last year’s festival has been shortlisted for a Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards for outstanding achievement. The Open Air series sees free activities on Aldeburgh Beach - singing, jive dancing, and a London 2012 church bell performance. Aldeburgh Festival is run by Arts Council England National portfolio organisation Aldeburgh Music.

Not just a music festival, Latitude Festival in Suffolk is one of the top European music festivals that offers an exciting range of theatre, art, comedy, cabaret, poetry, politics, dance and literature. It runs from 12 to 15 July 2012. Top picks include Aldeburgh Young Musicians, a new youth orchestra part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and works from two Arts council England National portfolio organisations: Eisteddfod, a major new work on local folklore created especially for Latitude by High Tide Festival Theatre and Seven Angels, the gorgeous work inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost by The Opera Group. Performing alongside the biggest mainstream musical arts are Grants for the arts supported artists such as John Osborne, Swamp Juice, Bryony Kimmings, Look Left Look Right, High Tide, and Mark Grist. Kimmings takes over the Literary Salon for one night to regale in stories from her Seven Day Drunk tour, while Swamp Juice presents their touring Bunk Puppets, a shadow puppet menagerie with a 3D finale.