Belper Arts Festival under way

PrintOne of the most successful new events in Derbyshire last year was the Belper Arts Festival as organisers reckon it added £60,000 to the local economy – a figure they are hoping to practically double this year.

They are boasting more than 170 events in 14 venues in the town in May and they are hoping to attract 16,000 visitors.

It was be opened by the town’s MP Pauline Latham on May 1 at No. 28, in the Market Place, prior to the unveiling of the Guernica installation and the performance of Educating Rita.

Chairman of the organising committee George Gunby says the festival will feature theatre, literature, dance, music, film, comedy, photography and art and events range from workshops and talks to Belper Open Houses, an innovative Belper Ramble during which people will encounter surprising and quirky characters in live performances throughout the town and a whole day devoted to dance and rythym moves.

For dance enthusiasts there will be dance classes for all ages at the Ritmo Studio in King Street throughout the festival.

For lovers of drama there will be  the performance of A Serious Person, the winner of the 2014 Play Competition. The writer, John Doble, is flying in from New York specially.

Three very different pieces will be performed at the Ritmo Studios during the month including a workshop performance of American Goddess and a brand new play by local writer Daniel David Webber about Marilyn Monroe.

Entertainment at No. 28 Community Hall includes the boots and tutus of singing sensation Red Ruff; the very British wit and humour of Three Men In A Bow Tie; Belper Singers in concert and two evenings of storytelling with Marty Ross and Sophie Snell both experts at the art.

For music lovers an international flavour will be added to the festival with the appearance of Canadian singer songwriter Manitoba Hal in concert with Phil Doleman for Four Strings and the Truth at No. 28.  On May 31 and there will be Indonesian Gamelan music featured at Fleet Arts on May 18.

St. Peter’s Church will be the home for music performances by Helix Ensemble, Hot House Jazz, Benjamin Frith and Eastwood Collieries Male Voice Choir.

In contrast a marquee in the grounds of Belper Rugby Club will host artists as diverse as the Beatroot Beatles and Steve Tilston.

The marquee will also be the venue for Belper’s Got Junior Talent and the Newfound Festival, a one day music event featuring new upcoming musicians which has been organised by Belper classical composer James Oldrini.

The town’s visual artists have organised a varied programme of events including an arts and craft fair at The Strutts Centre; art days at Belper School; the installation of the Big Sketch Book at No. 28 (into which anyone can doodle) and the Guernica Installation, featured in artsbeat last month.

There is also an evening with wildlife artist Pollyanna Pickering at Fleet Arts on May 23 and a charity art auction on May 28 at No. 28. All the money raised will go to the Hope For Belper food bank.

For the literary among you there is a series of three writing workshops being held by writer Stephen Cundy at No. 28 on May 8, 15 and 22 and two evenings of poetry, one with Derbyshire’s Poet Laureate Helen Mort at No. 28 on May 19 and another with former laureate Matt Black along with Julian Butt and Mike Smith at Fleet Arts on May 8.

Belper has its own independent cinema so is no stranger to a wide variety of films but from May 2-5 The Ritz will screening The Sea (12A), The General (U) and 20 Feet From Stardom (12A) as well as linking in to the National Theatre for Richard II starring David Tennant.

Festival brochures are available in shops and offices in Belper and tickets can be bought through the website and from The Cherry Orchard Gallery, Market Place, Belper.

Full details can be found at