The Oxford Festival of the Arts is to go online with #OFAVirtual, a specially curated selection of free arts events and performances to bring the festival feeling into our homes. And although the digital content will be free to watch, festival organisers are still hoping to be able to pay artists and contributors.

“think of it as a time shift. Just as the Olympics will still be called Tokyo 2020 next year, we will celebrate the 1520 anniversary in 2021”

Dr Michelle Castelletti Director of Oxford Festival of the Arts told us this week: “After much consideration and soul-searching the decision has been taken to postpone this year’s Oxford Festival of the Arts because it is the responsible thing to do.

“However, I am delighted that our programme for 2020, inspired by The Field of Cloth of Gold, will be moved to the relevant dates in 2021 and we hope to replicate the lavish programme then.

“So, think of it as a time shift. Just as the Olympics will still be called Tokyo 2020 next year, we will celebrate the 1520 anniversary in 2021.”

For the last month festival organisers have been busy on social media with their regular recommendations and suggestions for various online arts content for people to enjoy.

Michelle added: “We are working hard now to produce #OFAVirtual, a curated selection of free events and performances delivered on digital platforms. Many of these will act as tasters for what will come in 2021 and we hope to include other performances specially arranged for our virtual festival.

“I have talked to all our artists and they are keen to be involved. Any sponsorship money that we receive now will be used to support our artists as we want to do our bit to help. All the digital content will be offered to our audiences for free. We are confident that we can provide a multi-disciplinary festival which can be enjoyed by a local, national and even international audience.”

I am a huge believer in collaboration, and this is a strange time but we can still be creative and positive

The festival will still take place over 18 days, and organisers are determined to provide uplifting and positive online experiences for everyone to enjoy. As Michelle added, the new online format will be able to reach more people than the physical festival would have done.

“We shall be with audiences, perhaps now more than ever, with #OFAvirtual, and all the marvellous new tricks up our sleeves. We shall be working together with our artists and freelancers to create different ways to come to everyone, in these unprecedented times during our lifetime.

“Art has endured with us throughout history. We shall look back on these days very soon, proud to have acted in the ways we have done, and of our little part in helping society when it was at its most vulnerable – in whichever way we can best do so – even, if that is by staying at home to help save lives.”

Michelle added that there are plans to build up donations to share some funding with the artists, “I realised that I am working with about 200 people on the festival and we have to find ways and means to help each other.

“In terms of getting ready we are looking at our technology so that we can reach as many people as possible and looking closely at what we really can do because everybody needs this arts event, now more than ever.

“I am a huge believer in collaboration, and this is a strange time but we can still be creative and positive, and I feel it is important to give people the chance to absorb new and exiting things at this time.”

Sponsors supporting the virtual festival include Critchleys and John Morgan Partnership.

For full details of #OFAVirtual go to www.artsfestivaloxford.org

www.oxinabox.co.uk is proud to be the digital media partner for #OFAVirtual so watch this space for more details coming soon!

SARAH EDWARDS

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