Over ten days, from 9th to 18th October, Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival brought an astonishing array of arts to the town. With funding from Arts Council England and Bournemouth Borough Council, the festival offered a variety of events including theatre, music, interactive events, exhibitions, installations, dance performances and walkabout shows.
Highlights included an action packed opening weekend of free entertainment throughout the Lower Gardens, town centre and seafront, and ended with a bang at Cotlands Road Car Park last Sunday with a large scale open-air performance of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.
Crowds came out in force for the two first evenings of the festival when digital firework company, PixelPyros, lit up Pier Approach. Speaking of the festival, digital artist, Seb Lee-Delisle said “The event was great – such a perfect space for PixelPyros and there were so many people that we had to ditch the scheduled show times and run it back to back. I think we ran it at least five times on the Saturday!”
More light shone through Bournemouth when Waterlight Graffiti arrived on the seafront on Friday 9th; giving people the chance to make their own eco-graffiti using a wet paint brush, a spray can or even the touch of a finger. Also on the opening weekend, High Street Odyssey surprised shoppers on Bournemouth’s Commercial Road with a roaming theatre performance complete with dancing street cleaners and buskers in disguise. Award-winning artists, Davy and Kristin McGuire launched Ophelia’s Ghost; their latest installation at St Peter’s Church Resurrection Chapel.
Theatrical performances for the opening weekend were supplied by Wet Picnic and Ramshacklicious who returned to Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival for a second year and kept crowds laughing in the Lower Gardens. Jack Maguire, who performed Ramshacklicious’ one man show, Mother Says, commented “The shows were really fun; we can always guarantee a great audience from Bournemouth”.
Throughout the week, theatrical and musical performances took place over a variety of venues around Bournemouth. BBC3 funny man Nick Helm brought his latest comedy show to the Old Fire Station, the BSO joined up with the London Canticum Chamber Choir to make up Kokoro for a unique concert, SoundStorm captivated audiences with an operatic story of the rise and fall of communism and Alice Mary Cooper retold the beautiful story of how the butterfly stroke came about.
Bringing the festival to a close was the much awaited 451, a large scale pyrotechnic theatre performance looking at the rise of surveillance and depicting a society in which literature is outlawed and acts of violence are rewarded. Crowds arrived in their thousands to enjoy the closing act which was described as “beyond amazing”, “powerful yet poetic” and “completely immersive from start to finish” by festival-goers.
Councillor Lawrence Williams, Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Leisure and Arts said: “What a fantastic fifth year for Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival! It’s always so enjoyable when you see people getting involved with festivities and seeing something new. The atmosphere around Bournemouth was great and the response seems to be hugely positive! The festival does an important job in raising the cultural offerings of Bournemouth, reaching local residents as well as new visitors to the town.”