Chichester district's Culture Spark initiative taking shape

Culture Spark – a season of events, performances, live entertainment and community projects marking a momentous year of cultural anniversaries in the Chichester district this year – is bubbling away nicely, says Caroline Sharman-Mendoza, creative co-ordinator.
Caroline Sharman-Mendoza, creative co-ordinator.Caroline Sharman-Mendoza, creative co-ordinator.
Caroline Sharman-Mendoza, creative co-ordinator.

Culture Spark aims to give everyone – including every child in the district – the chance to participate in an “amazing cultural experience.”

It also celebrates multiple milestones for some of the district’s cultural organisations.

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2022 will mark 60 years of Chichester Festival Theatre; ten years of the Festival of Chichester; 40 years of Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery; 30 years of Chichester Cinema at New Park’s international film festival; ten years of The Novium Museum; and 200 years of the Canal Trust.

Each organisation will be holding their own events as part of the season to mark this special year.

But now, Culture Spark is starting to pull together its own events, including a photographic exhibition celebrating the “unsung heroes” who volunteer in the arts, We The People; plus early preparations for the Carnival of Lights parade in June.

Caroline said: “We The People is being led by Andy Davies who is head of learning and creative performing arts at Chichester College, and the idea is to celebrate volunteers. It’s a photo exhibition and we have put out a call for volunteers to take part.”

The photographs will be taken.

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QR codes will offer the chance to hear some of the volunteers talking about what they do, whether it is at Chichester Festival Theatre or Pallant House Gallery or any of the other cultural organisations which are represented.

Some of the students at the college are also filming some of the volunteers.

The result will be a touring exhibition starting on June 1 at Petworth House where it will spend a couple of weeks before it begins to move around the district with other venues including Chichester Festival Theatre, Pallant House Gallery, the Witterings and Selsey.

It will tour until the end of September.

“At the moment we’ve got 28 photos but we are missing certain areas.

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“We are hoping to get a few more from the Manhood Peninsula.

“We will have a core number of photos but we would hope to show more Midhurst photos in Midhurst for instance and more Petworth photos in Petworth.

“The idea is to celebrate these wonderful people that do wonderful things within our community, the people that have enabled a lot of businesses to thrive and survive.

“But it is also about what they get out of it as volunteers. It is important to see that it is something that goes both ways.

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“Both sides need to benefit and enjoy the working together.”

As for the Carnival of Lights, people can look forward to the event which will take place on the evening of Friday, June 10.

“It will involve a grand parade of lanterns created by local schools, groups and artists from across the Chichester district, moving through the streets of central Chichester to the Canal Basin for a waterside extravaganza of music and dance, culminating in a canal-side festival of food.

Other lantern parades, events and festivities will take place in Petworth, the Witterings, Midhurst and elsewhere across the district later in the summer as Homecoming Light events with further music and festive celebration.

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“The first workshop has happened to create the team of artists that will deliver the workshops for making the lanterns. Same Sky who are putting it all together spent the weekend with 15 artists.

“We put it out that anybody who would like to be an artist with us could get involved and we had 25 come forward and 15 were able to come to the weekend.

“They spent the weekend working together and it was great to have such a range of people, oil painters working with sculptors working with film makers working with graphic designers working with weavers.

“The public workshops will start in February and March. These will be for primary schools in March and then most of the workshops will be happening in April and May for schools and the community in general.

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“We’re hoping to have as many lanterns as we can. It will be a plethora of them!”

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