Table talk with Carol Taylor of Wirksworth Festival

P1070972A new woman has taken over the helm of the team responsible for staging the Wirksworth Festival  – and she is working on guiding the event into an exciting new era.

The festival, which has celebrated its 20th anniversary and has become internationally renowned for its outstanding commissioned art and arts trail, regularly attracts more than 5,000 visitors to the town.

For the last three years it has been boosted by funds from Arts Council England but now it needs to become self-funding  and to do that it will need the help of the wider Wirksworth community.

That’s where the work of Carol Taylor and the other 11 members of the Wirksworth Festival Board comes in.

Carol took on the chairmanship just four months ago and says her first priority is to make sure the festival happens in 2015.

“There has been a lot to do to sort it out as we haven’t got the same resources as we have had  for the last few years but everyone has taken on a different strand of the event and it is being pulled together,” she said.

“What we want to do is get the message out that the festival is for Wirksworth and all of the people in it as well as for the thousands of visitors from the rest of the country who come along every year.”

That’s the main reason Carol met me as my lunch guest for Table Talk this month as she wanted artsbeat readers to spread the message.

Le Mistral is one of my favourite bistros as I love the chance to have mussels and they are often on the menu so it didn’t take us long to decide where to meet.

Being a bit fickle though, I actually ignored the mussels and chose instead the hake with crushed lemon and herb new potatoes and vegetables. Carol went for the goat’s cheese salad with red onion chutney and a green side salad.

Both meals were under £10 and the atmosphere in the French style bistro is always relaxed and friendly so they didn’t mind at all that we were so busy discussing the festival we took ages to decide what we wanted to eat.

Carol said she hopes that in the future she can add even more to the broad-ranging programme of visual arts and performance which this year spans 17 days from September 10-26.

What she wants to do is embrace the fringe events and pop-up stalls that people in the town have been adding to the fun over the years.

“The festival brings lots of people to Wirksworth and I think it is great that the residents are able to join in whether it’s with bunting and flags, a pop-up stall or by helping to organise an event or even offering up their home as a venue for the trail.

“One thing we will always need is people to offer their homes or shops as venues.”

n If you want to get involved you can contact Carol by going to and clicking on Join In.