Festival of Chichester annual public meeting switches to Zoom

Organisers of the Festival of Chichester are setting the ball rolling for next year with their annual public meeting.

Katie Bennett - Photographer Andrew Matthews
Katie Bennett - Photographer Andrew Matthews

In extraordinary times, the festival committee will be switching to Zoom as they start to think about 2021.

Festival chairman Phil Hewitt said: “Over the years, we have developed a lovely structure to our year, and our autumn meeting has always been an important part of it – a chance for us to tell you what is on our minds and a chance for you to tell us where you think we should be heading.

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“Thanks to the generosity of Chichester City Council, always a fabulous supporter, we have always held the meeting in the council office in North Street – which is in fact where we held our first-festival meeting back in 2012 just to see whether there was an appetite for a new, much more Chichester-centred festival in the wake of the collapse of the old Festivities.

“The answer back then was an emphatic yes – and so we have continued. And we even continued this year, with an alternative online festival. We felt it was vital that we kept the Festival of Chichester flag flying, particularly in such horrible times for everyone.

“And that’s very much our thinking for next year too.”

The plan is for a Zoom meeting on Tuesday, November 17, beginning at 7pm.

“We want to tell you that we are alive and kicking and determined to make something happen for 2021. Obviously, we haven’t got a clue what is going to be possible, but you can be sure that the intention is there.

“But obviously crucial to our planning will be your feedback. We have always tried to listen, and our public meetings have shaped our festival in successive years in many significant ways. Drop us an email [email protected] to receive details on how to confirm your attendance.

“The meeting will also be our chance to introduce to you the newest member of our committee, Katie Bennett who made her debut with us at our October meeting. She wowed us. Katie is going to be looking after our social media – and is precisely the person we need. You will be getting to know her as we start to plan towards 2021.”

Barry Smith, festival co-ordinator, confirmed the proposed dates for the 2021 Festival of Chichester are June 12 to July 11.

“We’re hoping to be able to return to a lively, eclectic programme of arts events.

“It was such a disappointment to be forced to cancel the fantastic plans we had lined up for the 2020 live festival, but we’ve been very pleased with the positive responses to our virtual festival, which helped us stay in touch with our loyal audiences. Now it’s time to start planning for the next festival.

“Because of the current uncertainty, the festival committee feels we have to keep our options open to see how the situation develops. We are therefore postponing entries from the usual November to end of January time frame to a month-long entry window in January, which will now be open from January 1 to 31. We are also developing a new online entry system designed to streamline the process. We will keep you updated with this as work progresses.”