Meet the brains behind Chichester’s Priory Park Festival

Robin standing next to Sophie (Ellis Bextor) and performers from last year's festival
Robin standing next to Sophie (Ellis Bextor) and performers from last year's festival

A festival that doesn’t necessitate feral living and that is within walking distance of transport links and tea shops?

Don’t mind if I do! Back for a second year following a successful three-day event last year, The Priory Park Festival is the brainchild of Robin Bextor, dad of pop superstar Sophie Ellis Bextor and, well… perhaps ‘all-round creative type’ is the best way to describe him?

“I have been asked to do some great jobs, which somehow led from one to another,” laughed Robin. “I was a BBC Producer and was asked to become Head of Arts for an enormous and powerful American TV company. Part of my job was staging huge events and then filming them, which I loved. When my daughter went into the same line of work, we did it together. I still make TV films though, and last year made a lovely film about Glyndebourne. I am very lucky,” he admitted.

Asked how the Priory Park Festival came about, Robin was quick to credit the team behind the Festival of Chichester, under whose umbrella his festival falls.

“The people who run the brilliant Festival of Chichester thought it would be a good idea to expand what they were doing and asked me to organise a weekend of music for a Chichester family audience that had something for pretty much everyone. We had some great feedback, which is really helping shape this year’s event.”

Ah yes, this year’s event. Two stages and artists including Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers, The Christians, Dodgy, Georgie Fame, S Club, Deborah Bonham and many more, “I’m also looking forward to eating an O’Hagan’s sausage with a glass in my hand and having a dance to Tony Christie while he sings Is this the Way to Amarillo,” chuckled Robin, who has pulled off a programme that manages to blend music royalty with feel-good pop.

A great believer in children being the lifeblood of music, Robin will also be giving stage time to pupils of Nick Davidson’s Chichester Music Academy and Ovation charity, as well as to West Sussex Youth Music.

“There are some great Chichester young music stars. Providing them with a platform gives them experience and gives the audience a chance to hear something new,” said Robin, who is certainly proud of daughter Sophie’s success.

“I made sure she had a good grounding in the music of the 60s and the 70s, the great era of popular sounds, and when she had her first big hit she bought me an iPod inscribed with ‘thanks for the music.’ Cheesy but wonderful! But she still dips into the past and has done some great covers.”

Pushed to name his favourite ever live gig, Robin said: “Kate Bush was pretty good, but apart from Sophie and The Feeling, who I love, Pink Floyd has probably given me the most amazing times in a concert hall.”

More info at: www.prioryparkfestival.co.uk