Blue sky thinking with Pound Arts

POUND Arts, based at Corsham, can’t hold the annual Blue Sky Festival but the arts centre has come up with an exciting digital alternative – Blue Sky and Beyond, which will run online from 8th to 14th June.

The festival line-up includes comedy, music, theatre, spoken word, workshops and visual artists, which the organisers hope will provide “moments of reconnection to the wider communities that we are all missing in these extraordinary times.”

Marking officer Jonathan Mansfield says:, “Over the past seven weeks the Pound Arts team have been working really hard to stay connected to our local community by gathering a weekly roundup of online events that they can enjoy. It has been important to us and to our customers that they still have regular access to these experiences. With that in mind, rather than miss out on our annual Blue Sky summer festival, we decided to create Blue Sky and Beyond, and host the entire festival online.”

Pound Arts director Russ Tunney says: “In lockdown, music, books and other forms of storytelling have kept me sane. In short, art has kept me sane. I am sure it is the same for everyone. We can’t bring art in person to our wonderful communities at the moment but with Blue Sky and Beyond we will bring it digitally and give people some memorable escapist moments to savour.”

The programme includes festival favourites from previous years, as well as a host of new artists. Among the familiar names is beatboxer SK Shlomo, who has launched a project to help kids in quarantine and raise money for NHS Charities Together in the process. Homeskool Beatbox Adventures is a weekly live-streamed interactive show (from Shlomo’s Facebook) empowering kids and their families to find their true voices and create their own music.

Other performers are critically lauded contemporary folk singer Rachael Dadd, with an exclusive set, kitchen rave pioneers Big Fish Little Fish, and a music ‘stage’ featuring Pound Arts favourites, Broken Bones Matilda, Chloe Foy, Emily Barker, Lo Barnes, Mary Spender, Nuala Honan, The Little Unsaid, Tiny Ruins, and more.

The Sunday finale features poets, wordsmiths, thinkers, dreamers and Pound Arts’ friends including John Hegley, John Osborne, Liv Torc, Luke Wright, Molly Naylor, Rosy Carrick and Toby Thompson.

Cloudscapes by Gobbledegook Theatre has been re-developed specifically for audiences to experience during lockdown: a moment to sit outside, look up to the sky and listen to stories told by Lorna Rees. Creative activities include: Fold Your Own Town, cut-out and colour your own paper version of your town with Anna Bruder and A Line Art and a virtual community exhibition, Share Your Sky.

All Blue Sky and Beyond events will be free; donations can be made by texting BLUESKY to 70970 to donate £5. For more information visit blueskyfestival.org.uk

Pictured: Share Your Sky, Big Fish Little Fish, and Fold Your Town.