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Canterbury Festival and Canterbury Christ Church University celebrate ten years of collaboration

Canterbury Festival returns for 2019 with a stellar line-up that celebrates some of the biggest names in music and performance, alongside emerging local talent. Funding for the arts is under increasing pressure and Canterbury Festival is no exception. In order to secure the Festival’s future as Kent’s leading International Arts Festival, in 2010 Canterbury Christ Church University – who had previously acted as a sponsor for various aspects of the programme – fully endorsed the Festival, becoming its Partner and Principal Sponsor.

Canterbury Festival 2019 marks ten years of this partnership, which enables the Festival to develop emerging artists and showcase the very best that the arts have to offer. With shared values and a passion for the creative industries, this partnership acts as a catalyst for the development of creatives at the start of their careers; whether performers, writers, artists, producers or arts professionals.

Its students are a key talent pipeline to creative industries locally and nationally, and the University is proud to be part of a vibrant and flourishing creative sector that is supporting regional economic growth and success. The University’s commitment to culture is further endorsed by the opening this year of the Daphne Oram creative arts building in Canterbury.

Festival Director Rosie Turner emphasizes the important role the collaboration with the University plays in sustaining the Festival. “When we established Canterbury Christ Church University as Partner and Principal Sponsor of Canterbury Festival we broke new ground. A five-year sponsorship deal (renewable) which paired our two organisations from grass-roots to Board level. The most important aspect is how the Festival contributes to the students’ experience – offering unique access and real work experience in the hothouse environment created by staging 200 events in a fortnight. The Festival has also benefited considerably from input from the academic staff, who help to chair discussions, interrogate performers and enrich Festival events for audiences. Not to forget the financial support and sponsorship in kind of facilities that the University generously donates. We simply couldn’t do without them.”

Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, Vice-Chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “We are proud of our longstanding support and association with the Canterbury Festival, and to be part of its continuing success as Kent’s leading international arts festival.”

“Our University is investing in new facilities and partnerships to ensure graduates are equipped for successful careers in the UK’s thriving creative industries. Our partnership with Canterbury Festival adds extra depth to our students’ experience and gives them a unique opportunity to perform and be part of this wonderful festival celebrating artists from around the world, and from Kent.”

Over ten years the Festival has showcased internationally acclaimed performers of classical and popular music, theatre, circus arts and comedy. Past artists have included Van Morrison, Hugh Masekela, Texas, Sir Bryn Terfel, Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra and Circa – Australia’s leading circus company. These spectacular shows have attracted vast audiences to Canterbury, solidifying the City’s as both rich in heritage and a cultural hub.

With the University’s support, Canterbury Festival has expanded its learning and participation programme. Made In Kent, Canterbury Festival’s framework supporting children, young people and early-career performers returns for 2019 with six competitions. Short-listed entrants present their work as part of the programme, providing the opportunity for young musicians, dancers, comedians and theatre practitioners to perform in a professional environment, receive support from industry practitioners and perform in front of real Festival audiences.

The partnership has also provided opportunities for Christ Church students to gain hands on experience of event delivery, arts marketing and management. Each year Christ Church students have the opportunity to develop their stage management and technical skills supporting the Festival’s technical team across multiple venues. This collaboration has proven to be a huge benefit for both parties with students progressing from roles as interns and volunteers with the Festival to full time arts professionals – some of whom have even become full-time members of the Festival team.

Each year the Festival highlights the talent of Canterbury Christ Church University students, promoting a series of free lunchtime concerts which take place in the intimate and acoustically stunning St. Gregory’s Centre for Music. Where possible, music and performance students have opportunities to meet Festival artists, access private rehearsals and on occasions even share the concert stage. Throughout the Festival many lunchtime concerts, gigs, dance and theatre performances are free. Simply drop in on your lunch break and discover the wealth of talent that Canterbury has to offer.