Culturally, Chipping Norton seemed to have it all, a burgeoning literary festival, a rich musical line-up, and its own famous theatre.
But now, thanks to Andrew Wildman and his team, it now has The Chipping Norton Arts Festival which debuts on Saturday to showcase all the incredible art and artists in the famous Cotswold town.
Packed with things to do for children, adults, visitors and artists, he has ensured that here really is something for everyone to enjoy.
But with so much to organise and facilitate, why did the story-board artist take on this enormous project?
“There are so many artists who live in and around Chipping Norton,” he says “so we set up a network to share information. What arose was a need for something more collective, something we could have ownership of.”
“We already have an amazing literary festival and music festival so why not an arts festival? So a few of us have got together to make that happen.
“And some amazing things have come out of that process, because once we started talking different people came up with different ideas, not just exhibitions but a way of including all sectors of society from demonstrations and exhibitions to talks and screenings, so that we are not just showcasing art but making it as well. We want to inspire people to have a go and get involved, to make art and its possibilities accessible to all.
And with Will Gompertz, BBC Arts Editor, as patron of CNarts, as well as numerous other big names, it looks set to deliver..
“So we have a pop up installation Stan’s Cafe, as seen at the RSC recently, in the Town Hall, because we really want to bring something new and exciting to Chipping Norton.
This festival’s headliner ‘Of All The People In All The World’, created by acclaimed international performance company, Stan’s Cafe, is a fascinating and thought-provoking installation that uses piles of rice to bring formally abstract statistics to life.
“On top of that, we have a ‘maker’s market’ full of artisan stalls and crafts, there is fine art in the lower Town Hall. We have two exhibitions in the theatre, as well as street galleries in all the shop windows, guest speakers and screenings at the theatre. And it’s all free,” Andrew says.
“We have historians and animators, voice actors for cartoons, comic book illustrators and Laura Howell, the Minnie The Minx artists for The Beano is running workshops.”
Andrew is the perfect example of how diverse the arts can be specialising in story-boards for major TV programmes from Luther, Dr Who and Poldark to children’s TV series such as The Clangers and Shane The Chef, to show how the drama will pan out, and how the special effects will work, sometimes 400-500 for one episode.
“ It’s nice for people to see how these things work and show that art is really diverse and that the festival is not just about buying things, although of course that is encouraged, but about the events, but to inspire people in terms of their own creativity and show them what’s possible career wise in a really broad and diverse way.
“So it’s all free, to make it as community based as possible without putting people off.”
As for the arts festival’s future, Andrew hopes it will become an annual event: “That’s the plan – to grow it year by year by engaging people.
“So whether you’re interested in Arthouse or Cartoons, Sci-Fi or Comedy, there’ll be something here to catch your attention.”
“We just want people to come along because it’s going to be a really brilliant day.”
CHIPPING NORTON ARTS FESTIVAL runs from 10am – 4.30pm on Saturday.
For more information go to CNarts.org
To book your free place on the workshops, screenings and events please visit chippingnortontheatre.com