What I didn’t know was just how many people there are taking part in cultural activities at all levels and in many different genres.
And it seems that many of my readers were also unaware of the huge wealth of talent out there producing festivals, shows, music, visual art and literature.
As I visit each of the county’s towns delivering artsbeat each month I have frequently been thanked for producing artsbeat by people who declare they never knew so much was going on in the county.
We have major arts festivals in Ashbourne, Wirksworth, Melbourne, Chesterfield, Belper, New Mills and of course Buxton. And now smaller festivals and trails are being launched such as the Six Streets event in Derby.
There were music festivals such as Y Not and Bearded Theory as well as Ripley’s Indie Festival and Matlock’s Oxjam.
We are lucky to have theatres in Derby and Chesterfield, and the magnificent Buxton Opera House as well as a whole host of other venues staging community shows via Live and Local or amateur dramatic groups.
Derby has gained an international reputation for its photography and film based Format Festival hosted by QUAD which also has a thriving cinema and innovative exhibition space.
For film fans there are also independent cinemas at Belper and Wirksworth and a variety of film societies dotted about the villages.
If you check out the listings in artsbeat you can always find music or dance on at a multitude of venues across the county and we are never short of an exhibition of fantastic visual art in our galleries.
My aim with artsbeat is to bring together all these different strands under one umbrella and provide readers with a one-stop shop for the arts.
I was lucky to be able to see many shows and festivals in 2013 and I can honestly say I enjoyed every one especially the main arts festivals.
Here, in no particular order, are some of the other highlights of my year.
Sarah Brigham’s Cooking with Elvis at Derby Theatre; the launch of Lucy Ward’s latest album, Single Flame; the exhibition by the winner of the Jonathan Vickers’ Award, Barthlomew Beal, at Derby Museum; The opera double bill at the opening of Buxton Festival at the Opera House; the spectacular As the World Tipped at Derby Festé; Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me by Belper Players; The Peak District Artisans’ Great Dome Art Fair, Buxton; the Beyond Limits sculpture exhibition at Chatsworth House; William Kentridge Printmaker exhibition at Derby QUAD; Jane Eyre by the Chatsworth Players at Chatsworth House; The Pitman Painters, at The Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield and the Big Show, the end of year graduation exhibition at the University of Derby.
I have also been privileged to meet many talented individual artists in their studios or homes and I hope you have all enjoyed reading about them and their work.
There are many more I haven’t met yet but artsbeat will be bigger and better in 2014 – so watch this space.
The February artsbeat will be out at the end of January and included in the line-up are artist Catriona Hall, photographer Aly Jackson, ceramicist Ian Tomii. There will also be news about the 2014 Peak District Artisans’ Young Artist of the Year competition , Derby City Council’s Mother Goose and the Four Four Time festival at Buxton.
Have a great new year everyone. Thank you for your support.