Two weeks of arts action came to a crescendo as Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival signed off in style.
British Sea Power and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet set sail on a musical journey round Poole Harbour culminating in a rousing finale gig on Brownsea Island. British Sea Power tweeted; “Thanks to BSO brass and Arts Bournemouth for joining us on Brownsea Island – hope we can do it all again soon.”
Over the fortnight, 26th September to 12th October, Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival brought an astonishing array of arts to the town, along with its accompanying Bournemouth Emerging Art Fringe. Highlights included the magical opening weekend throughout the Lower Gardens, Pier Approach and The Square. On Friday and Saturday night crowds peaked as The Lower Gardens came alight with the extraordinary Compagnie Carabosse’s amazing fire sculptures and mesmerising music.
On the Pier Approach, Fuel’s The Roof impressed with their six busy outdoor dance performances, full of sheer physicality and all on a specially built set. Fuel also brought their incredible sound design to Fiction at Pavilion Dance. Upon being part of the Festival, David Rosenberg, Director of The Roof and Fiction said; “Arts by the Sea Festival was a stunning location to finish The Roof’s UK tour and what better place to begin the tour for Fiction, than as part of the festival that commissioned it. There was a wonderful, responsive audience for The Roof and adventurous, open-minded audiences came along to experience Fiction. Both shows are enriched by being part of such a vibrant programme.”
Other gems in the programme included the premiere of John Foster’s WW1 courtroom drama, Shot at Dawn, which told the story of two young men from the Dorsetshire Regiment, on trial for cowardice, atmospherically performed in Bournemouth Council Chambers to sell out performances and rave reviews. Festival favourites The Dodge Brothers skiffled and sang in the inspirational surrounds of the Shelley Theatre, as Mark Kermode from the band enthused; “Thank you for being a great audience and thank you Arts Bournemouth for allowing us to play at this beautiful theatre.”
Not for the faint hearted, the Festival also hosted first UK appearance of Canadian all-female rockers Vag Halen. After taking last year’s Venice Biennale by the proverbials, these fiercely feminist hard-rock heroines delivered classic tunes as only Vag Halen can. Lead singer, Vanessa Dunn, commented; “Thank you, Bournemouth. Your energy was sweet and trashy! Everything we love in an audience.”
Festival Organiser, Carol Maund summed up this year’s Festival; “It’s been an incredible year, with some truly exemplary performances from both our local performers and national and international artists and companies. It is a measure of the growing success and profile of the Festival that events were sold out and feedback has been so positive. I am pleased to say the future of the Festival is secure for the next three years, with a new funding agreement in place with the Arts Council. This gives us the opportunity to plan over a longer term to ensure the Festival remains both at the cutting edge of contemporary practice but also retains its local roots and local engagement. I really look forward to the next phase of the Festival and raising the cultural offering in Bournemouth such that we can continue to offer something for everyone, reaching local residents as well as new visitors to the town.”
The annual Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival is jointly funded by the Arts Council, Arts University Bournemouth, Pavilion Dance South West and Bournemouth Borough Council. Councillor Jane Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Partnerships, Regeneration and Public Health at Bournemouth Borough Council, said; “The reaction has been overwhelming from everyone filled with excitement and wonder, especially at the French artists Company Carabosse and their breathtaking Fire Gardens. The Festival is growing from strength to strength each year. It has been brilliant to see all ages joining in with the activities and lively performances throughout the town. What a great opportunity for people to get a taste of the flourishing Bournemouth arts scene.”
Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival will be back next year. For any feedback on this year’s Festival, complete the survey below: