Dates confirmed for summer of celebration in Chichester

DATES have now been confirmed for a new festival celebrating the very best talents in Chichester.

Known simply as Festival of Chichester, it has been masterminded by the Observer with enthusiastic support from Chichester City Council.

The aim is not simply to fill the void left by the collapsed Chichester Festivities; more importantly, it will return the whole notion of festival to the grassroots, making sure it is Chichester itself which takes centre stage.

Observer arts editor Phil Hewitt, who initiated the idea, said: “We are delighted we will be able to open the festival with the Chichester Singers on June 15 and close the festival with the Chichester Symphony Orchestra on July 13. The fact the word Chichester is in the title of each of these organisations sets the tone for everything that we hope will fill all the days in between.

“Chichester is a fabulous place to work and to enjoy the arts. We had a fantastic response when we called a public meeting in October to discuss the possibility of a new festival. 60-70 groups and organisations voiced interest. We now hope they will rush forward to fill that calendar!”

Jonathan Willcocks, musical director of the Chichester Singers, said the new festival sounded ‘splendid’.

CSO chairman Mark Hartt-Palmer said: “The Chichester Symphony Orchestra are delighted the vision to create a new arts festival in Chichester is becoming a reality, and we are honoured to be asked to provide the festival finale. We are very much looking forward to the inaugural Festival of Chichester.”

The idea is very strongly that groups organise their own events for which they bear full responsibility. The Observer will bring the events together into a programme which it will commit to promoting.

“The new festival has absolutely no connections with the defunct Festivities, but we felt it important to go for much the same time of year given people’s expectations,” Phil added. A key figure will be the new festival’s co-ordinator, Barry Smith. Interested parties should contact Barry on festivalchichester@gmail.com to register their interest and supply brief details of what they are planning to do – and when and where, if possible at this stage.

“I’ll then send them a pro-forma to complete with guidance notes on how we see things working,” Barry said.

“The completed pro-forma needs to be submitted by January 31.”