Entries still open for #SussexTogether Festival of the Arts

The deadline is looming for submissions for the #SussexTogether Festival of the Arts, a powerful celebration of our strength in adversity.

#SussexTogether Festival of the Arts
#SussexTogether Festival of the Arts

Conceived during the darkest days of lockdown, the festival gathered pace over the summer with a wide range of entries coming in. Now as we enter darker days again, the festival will gain even greater relevance as it marks the “talent, strength, endurance and hopes of the people of Sussex in an enormously difficult year,” organisers say.

The festival will culminate in an exhibition of art, sculpture and photography in Chichester Cathedral from November 3-17. The deadline for entries is October 18, after which the works will go to a judging panel. Successful submissions will be notified between October 20-21.

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The #SussexTogether Festival of the Arts is a collaboration between Chichester Cathedral and Sussex Newspapers. The diocese of Chichester is pretty much co-terminus with Sussex; Sussex Newspapers comprises all your trusted favourite titles across the two counties.

Canon Dan Inman, Chancellor, Chichester Cathedral, said: “I think I sensed during the lockdown, and I think it’s all the more true now, that we all feel a bit fractured at by COVID. Or as though the ground has fallen away beneath our feet and it’s tricky to find something to hold onto. The daily round of news obviously doesn’t help but the psychologists tell us this is all a symptom of our ‘surge capacity’ - our brains’ capacity to cope with emergencies - being totally depleted. We’ve basically run out of steam. I think this is where bringing people together, from across Sussex, can help reaffirm some important truths: we’re still here, we’re still part of one community, there is still hope. The arts can bring us together and point us beyond these trying times even as we’re inspired by people’s resilience and hopefulness during it.

“I hope, even in a small way, the exhibition might be a little pointer to the bigger picture for us: not letting our lives be overwhelmed by the dark clouds brooding on winter’s horizon but, through the writing, the photography, the art and so on, giving us a sense of our community’s strength, our power to endure and a horizon with some hope. That might all sound a bit Stoic for an Anglican clergyman, but hopefully you get the picture! I keep thinking of the mystic Julian of Norwich’s words – ‘all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well’ – and I hope this might echo through the Festival. We’ve been really heartened by the imaginative ways in which people have made a whole array of submissions, from schoolchildren to professional artists and writers – each in their own way making an often very personal expression of togetherness – but there’s still time to submit! I guess what we’re most keen to see is exactly that: something authentic, something honest, ideally something hopeful! The deadline is October 18 so be brave in submitting!

“I think being creative, in whatever way, is one of the things that most affirms our humanity and restores us back to ourselves. That might sound a bit fanciful, but I think you even hear it in the ancient scriptures where, at creation, humanity is invited to share in God’s creativity; it’s what makes us human and we can see that as much in the vaccine labs at Oxford as in artistic expression; and I hope we’ll see here in the Cathedral in November! With so much on our horizon that seems to threaten our common humanity at the moment, it’s easy to feel depressed and disorientated. I hope the festival will, in its own small way, give some navigational pointers to how we might find ourselves again.”

You can send photos/work to [email protected] or upload your contribution via the website. The website is www.sussextogether.org; @sussextogether on Twitter; www.facebook.com/sussextogether; and @sussextogether on Instagram.

• Talk is increasing of further lockdowns in the UK. What do you think of the situation? Join the Big Conversation and have your say on everything from healthcare to how the pandemic has affected you personally and how we make our communities stronger: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/bc-worthing