Canterbury Festival is committed to creative learning and skill development. We regularly work in partnership with local community groups and charities to deliver free workshops to those who do not have regular access to the arts. Project participants steer the workshops, choosing both the art form they wish to learn, and their own goals for the project.

Our community projects take place throughout the year. Click the links below to find out more about current and past projects.

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.

 

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.

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.

The Arts Trail map can be downloaded here

All artworks were exhibited in window spaces and were available to view during daylight hours from 17 – 31 October.

Canterbury Festival would like to thank the generosity of participating artists, organisations, estate agents and landlords for making the HeArt of the City Arts Trail possible.

Click here to read more about this project

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
  • Screen printing
  • Punk printing
  • Cyanotype
  • Writing Letters to the Future
  • Among the Reeds
  • Gumboots Reggae
  • Raynard the Fox Puppet
  • Puppetry
  • 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

 

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 info@canterburyfestival.co.uk or 01227 452853.