To hear all about the latest Canterbury Festival news, including programme announcements, opportunities, offers and more, join our mailing list below. You can unsubscribe at any time, just click unsubscribe at the bottom of one of our emails or contact the team at [email protected]
Canterbury Festival is committed to engaging the local community in creative learning activities that bring people together and embrace the positive benefits of the arts. We regularly work in partnership with community groups, organisations and charities to deliver free year-round workshops and projects for all ages exploring music, visual art, performance, creative writing and more.
Our community projects take place throughout the year. Click the links below to find out more about current and past projects.
Beuatiful Noise Community Celebration 2023
The Beautiful Noise Community Music Celebration shines a spotlight on local musicians, singers and performers with free events taking place in numerous locations across the city. Beautiful Noise is open to all ages and group sizes, from solo singer-songwriters to choirs and orchestras.
Our third event took place on Saturday 21 October (11am – 5pm) and was scheduled to take place at four locations, owing to Hurricane Babet, the majority of performances programmed for the two outdoor stages were rescheduled to St Peter’s Church and Church Hall, resulting in it becoming quite the musical hub buzzing with community spirit! In total the event featured 23 performances with 540 participants aged between 8-80 years old. Audiences visited throughout the day with many more stopping by our outdoor stage located at Whitefriars Shopping Centre to enjoy 5 minutes of live music while the weather held off.
“Everything went perfectly well at St Peter’s Methodist Church for Melina and Jensen. It was a very beautiful moment meant. Thank you very much again for your care!” Cécile Chavel (parent)
“The Show Must go on! The move from St George’s to St Peter’s didn’t dampen our spirits or our voices. What a wonderful buzz in the hall!” U3A singer
Open House 2023
Open House was a collaborative learning project between Canterbury Festival Public Engagement and Catching Lives Arts programme. This rewarding, creative project gathered the Catching Lives community together for a socially enriching experience in which all participants could share their personal stories of living rough in Canterbury while acknowledging and respecting that Canterbury is their home; impacting positive personal and group wellbeing.
The pop-up exhibition, Open House, was exhibited in the windows of RockPaperScissors, CT1 2NZ and Teastones, CT1 2HX from Saturday 21 October – Saturday 4 November. The exhibition created a lit-up mini-cityscape of memories and hopes of home and included bespoke site-specific window drawings by Margate artist, Zo Defferary and a project specific soundscape created by Medway audio-visual artist, Jane Pitt.
Very positive general public feedback was received by the two hosting venues.
“This has been a wonderful opportunity for participants to explore their creative style and self-expression in a series of relaxed and fun workshops. Thank you to the Canterbury Festival for offering us this great opportunity.” Miriam Ellis, Arts and Activities Co-ordinator, Catching Lives
Open Clay - Building Bridges Together 2023
Inspired by the theme of Refuge – this year’s National Poetry Day word – Clayground Creative directors Duncan Hooson and Claire West led this creative learning project, highlighting some of Canterbury’s historic architecture and hidden spaces, and celebrating the migrating communities who made the contemporary city what it is today.
Ceramic students at Canterbury College recreated city landmarks in masterclass workshops with Duncan Hooson. Advised by tutor Luke Godfrey they created mini versions of Westgate tower, St Georges Clock tower, Canterbury Cathedral, St Andrew’s Church, parts of the city wall and the Monument in Dane John Mound (see if you can spot them all in our pictures!). Frames were built and set out in Guildhall Street for visitors to add their clay creations to.
You definitely did not disappoint! We saw pets, friends and family, and favourite places added to the existing structures. With it being the week before Halloween, that was a definite influence in some sculptures, and it was beautiful to see people adding to existing work, and working together to make something beautiful.
It was great to see the ceramic students working with the public to help with the creation as they supported Duncan and Claire in running the project, putting their training of interactive workshops to use in a professional environment, and they had fun too!
After the cityscape had been dismantled, unused clay was donated to Canterbury College, local arts charity ‘Expression Arts’ and St Peter’s Methodist Primary School.
“Thank you for inviting myself and the Lady Mayoress to your clay making project. We really enjoyed meeting everyone and seeing first-hand the amazing work you all do.” The Lord Mayor, Cllr Jean Butcher and Lady Mayoress, Mrs Di Baldock attended and participated for over an hour
“What a wonderful community activity for all ages, fun and super engaging for grown ups and young people alike; we absolutely adored it and felt so happy to have this wonderful experience on our doorstep. Our daughter talked about it for days.” Rocio von Jurgenfeld (Canterbury Resident)
“Lovely to see the Festival doing an all-inclusive community event with so many different people getting creative with clay on an otherwise under populated street.” Sarah Wharton, Sun Street business owner
“Visual Arts students and staff were delighted to work with Clayground Collective and the Canterbury Festival on this most engaging pf projects. They benefitted greatly from the masterclasses Duncan Hooson delivered at Canterbury College in our ceramics studio as well as the very hands on experience they had the opportunity to experience when working with the hundreds of members of the community, who shared in this most enjoyable creative projects. It was hugely beneficial to our students to participate in a public engagement project in the city centre as part of their professional practice work experience.” Ben Kidger, Head of Visual Arts, Canterbury College
Supported by Kent County Council and Potclays Limited. Canterbury Festival’s Public Engagement Programme is sponsored by Sir John Swire 1989 Charitable Trust
Open Book 2023
This book-making project in collaboration with the East Kent Forget-Me-Nots offered those living with dementia a way to express their experiences both visually and through text. ‘Open’ is positive and proposes that receiving a diagnosis of dementia need not be a full-stop but the beginning of a new chapter, one that can be creative and full of meaningful connections. This book-making project celebrated the role of creativity in wellbeing, explored narrative therapy, supported motor skills and memory making activities; books can be a space for refuge, a safe-haven for remembering, a place for memory keeping. Participants brought photos and keepsakes to inspire drawings and text to create their hand-made book.
The books were exhibited at the University of Kent’s Special Collections & Archives in the Templeman Gallery, as part of their Zines Zines Zines exhibition. Books were also displayed at the Cantebrury Christ Church University Book Shop, hightlighting the project and the Forget Me Nots Festival event at St Peter’s Church.
Open Book is a Canterbury Festival Public Engagement Project in collaboration with East Kent Forget-me-Nots: Keith Oliver (Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador and Kent & Medway Dementia Envoy), Dr Elizabeth Field (Consultant Clinical Psychologist) and Liz Jennings (ACE funded Dementia focused Writing Creative). Workshops were extended to other dementia groups including Sunshiners (Hythe) and The Phoenix Group (Ashford). The project also incorporated work experience opportunities, working wth CCCU Occupational Therapy students, University of Kent Social Work students and University of Kent Psychology students.
Beautiful Noise Community Music Day 2022
Canterbury Festival’s Beautiful Noise returned to the city this October, filling the halls and open spaces with a day of community music-making. Performers, audiences and volunteer stewards gathered in various locations to celebrate the very best in local music. With a total of 370 performers and 20 musical groups, there was something for everyone.
Fulston Manor from Sittingbourne and Canterbury Academy entertained audiences in the Westgate Hall and Whitefriars with selections of contemporary and rock music. Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School Senior Chamber Choir shared their high-performance standards with an appreciative audience in St Peter’s; Kent College Choristers delivered a fine classical programme in the same venue. The Canterbury Music Maker Orchestra closed the day in the Methodist Church with a variety of music from Pirates of the Caribbean to Shostakovich.
The Canterbury Festival thanks all the participants who provided such a memorable day of performances throughout the city, one which delighted audiences of all ages. The Beautiful Noise Community Celebration was generously supported by our Headline Sponsor, Paul Roberts Canterbury, as well as our Partner and principal sponsor Canterbury Christ Church University. We are also grateful for the support of Kent County Council Cllr Alister Brady, and Whitefriars Canterbury.
The Beautiful Noise Day will be returning in 2023 with more information to come.
Beautiful Noise Community Day 2021
Canterbury Festival’s Beautiful Noise event filled the City’s halls and open spaces for the first time this year with a day of community music-making. Performers, audiences and volunteer stewards gathered in various locations to celebrate the very best in local music. With a total of 494 performers and an impressive 22 musical groups, there was something for everyone.
From the catchy tunes of Jazz Omnibus and soaring choral music in the brilliant acoustic of St Peter’s Methodist Church to the outdoor performances by large and smaller singing groups, throughout the day Canterbury was a festival of talent of every description.
One of the Canterbury Festival’s youngest performers, singer-songwriter Melina Hayeswood, enjoyed her first performance since lockdown, singing out of doors, and is definitely ready to do more. Another solo performer, Jas Jazz, was happy to celebrate his music with the community whilst crowds gathered to hear one of Canterbury’s larger choral groups, Kent Soul Choir, performing classic and modern soul music in the Westgate Hall.
Schools and colleges were particularly well represented. Fulston Manor from Sittingbourne and Canterbury Academy entertained audiences in the Westgate Hall with selections of contemporary and rock music. Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School Senior Chamber Choir shared their high performance standards with an appreciative audience in St Peter’s; Kent College Choristers delivered a fine classical programme in the same venue.
Fine choral performances continued throughout the city. From the solemnity of Gregorian chant with the Canterbury Gregorian Music Society and moving close harmonies of the Snowdown Male Voice Choir to the wide range of styles and languages in the performances of Canterbury Girls’ Choir and Canterbury Ladies’ Choir, the music flowed through the day. The all-female Canterbury Voices closed the day in the Methodist Church with a repertoire of popular melodies.
Canterbury has a great range of outdoor performance spaces. Local ukulele group Ukelear Power combined performances in St Peter’s Church Hall with a set on the bandstand in Dane John Gardens. Dane John was also the venue to host crowds appreciative of the larger-than-life rock harmonies and sheer enjoyment delivered by the Canterbury Rock Choir. Longmarket Shopping Centre was brought to life by the bright sounds of the East Kent partnership choir, The Big Sing. Later, community choir The Lemon Zingers showed just how much fun their feel-good singing together can be whilst Canterbury Christ Church University’s Chamber Choir provided a mixture of choral unaccompanied music and excellent instrumental playing. In Whitefriars, Beech Grove Academy Brass and Folk Group showed enthusiasm and drew the crowds with their performances. They were followed by an informal presentation by Beat This Drumming! – a community percussion group from the rural Canterbury area which closed the day.
The Canterbury Festival thanks all the participants who provided such a memorable day of performances throughout the city, one which delighted audiences of all ages. The Beautiful Noise Community Celebration was generously supported by our Headline Sponsor, Paul Roberts Canterbury, as well as our Partner and principal sponsor Canterbury Christ Church University. We are also grateful for the support of Kent County Council, The Beerling Foundation and Canterbury Forest of Blean Rotary.
New Tricks: Beat This
In 2020 the Festival expanded on its New Tricks Project with Beat This, a series of drumming workshops engaging communities around Canterbury in creative activity.
The project aimed to help tackle social isolation, enabling individuals to take part in arts activities, meet people and learn something new.
The workshops were postponed due to the Covid-19 lockdown but when restrictions were eased, they were reinstated with social distancing – helping to rebuild networks and bring these communities back together.
We are incredibly thankful to our workshop leaders Kevin Richards and Simon Lee who have been incredible throughout. The project is generously supported by The Kent Community Foundation and Beerling Foundation.
HeArt of the City - Socially Distanced Community Art Trail
In 2020, Canterbury Festival joined forces with community groups, charities, schools, colleges, universities and artists to create a city-wide art exhibition during the 2020 Festival. Taking place from 17 – 31 October, the HeArt of the City Arts Trail celebrated creativity, highlighting the important role it plays in health and wellbeing. Many of the artworks were created as part of lockdown projects led by Kent organisations – connecting the community when it was at its most isolated.
Participating organisations included Pilgrims Hospices, Catching Lives, L’Arche, Future Foundry, Canterbury College and many more.
New Tricks is a project engaging the over 65’s in communities around Canterbury to take part in new arts activities and performances.
The project aims to build a stronger relationship with the community, enabling elder participants to explore the arts and forge long term friendships. We are currently delivering this project in Hersden, Barham, Querns and Chartham.
Each community centre or village hall has up to ten sessions of participatory and audience-based activities which include:
Mampama African Fusion
Writing Letters to the Future
Among the Reeds
Raynard the Fox Puppet
Trip down Melody Lane
(Performers are from Canterbury Festival’s programme and facilitators are trained on our TEC course.)
This project has been funded by Canterbury City Council.
RAW Art Exhibition
In Spring 2019, Canterbury Festival worked with clients of Canterbury based charity Catching Lives; developing new work and exhibiting it in a gallery setting, at 35-37 Tontine Street, Folkestone.
Canterbury Festival initially teamed up with local art facilitators to provide a free ‘Teach, Educate, Create’ course, covering various aspects of how to deliver community workshops, including planning, risk assessments and safeguarding.
On completion of the course, facilitators gained hands on experience by delivering various workshops at Catching Lives – an independent charity which aims to help rough sleepers and vulnerably housed people across East Kent, by giving them access to support and facilities that they may not receive elsewhere.
Workshop themes included lino printing, animation, badge making, flag making and music.
Rising Sun DVAS
Canterbury Festival worked with animator James Murray to run a series of weekly workshops exploring stop-motion animation. Workshops took place at Rising Sun’s offices and engaged a cross section of young people aged 12-18.
This Link project was supported by Kent Community Foundation and The R G Hills Charitable Trust.
Hip Hop Project at St Nicholas School
In 2017 Canterbury Festival worked with St Nicholas School, running a series of workshops with hip hop producer, writer and community worker Oliver Seagar. Participants were encouraged to embrace their creativity, empowering them through perfomrance and writing skills.
This project was made possible with the support of The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust and The R G Hills Charitable Trust.
Dance Workshops with Porchlight
In 2017 Canterbury Festival worked with two dancers from Kent Dance Network, running a series of dance workshops for Porchlight service users, as part of the Link project.
With support from The R G Hills Charitable Trust
Exhibition project with Catching Lives
The Festival worked with an artist and Catching Lives on a series of sculpture activities inspired by scratchcards exploring the theme ‘homelessness need not mean hopelessness’. The project concluded with an exhibition in Canterbury’s The Beaney in March 2018.
Kent Refugee Action Network
Canterbury Festival and an artist worked with fifteen young members of Kent Refugee Action Network to produce a piece of artwork that was exhibited at the Sidney Cooper Gallery. The project aimed to empower the participants and encourage them to enter gallery and other creative spaces without feeling self-conscious.
Canterbury Youth Music Project
In the summer of 2016 Canterbury Festival engaged 12 people who identified as NEET (young people not in education, employment or training). Participants worked with a musician as part of a summer music school; improving skills in performance, production and teamwork. Following the project, five participants went on to full time education.
For more info on our projects including how to get involved, contact [email protected]