Festival’s record boost for city

SALISBURY International Arts Festival, back after a year’s absence, and now under the aegis of Wiltshire Creative, was a huge success and a great boost to the city, with a record number of first-time visitors.

It is good news for Salisbury, which had such a hard year in 2018. More than 42,000 people came to this year’s festival, enjoying 120 events over 17 days, with more than 350 artists from 15 countries. More than half of festival goers were first-time visitors to the festival.

Free events included City Encounters – two days of street theatre, circus and dance in Salisbury city centre – as well as Family Fiestas at Bemerton Heath and Salisbury Arts Centre, and Salisbury Live in the city’s pubs and clubs.

International artists included Circus Xanti from Nepal, oud player Rihab Azar from Syria and visual artist Oksana Chepelyk from Ukraine.

The 2019 Festival marks the end of the first year of work from Wiltshire Creative, the newly merged organisation that brings together Salisbury Arts Centre, Salisbury International Arts Festival and Salisbury Playhouse.

Wiltshire Creative artistic director Gareth Machin said: “We are delighted that this year’s festival was enjoyed by so many people. Throughout the fortnight we were proud to offer world class music, dance, theatre, circus, spoken word and much more in the buildings and spaces of our beautiful city.”

Gareth worked closely on the programme with guest festival director Jonathan Dove. The distinguished composer enjoys a significant history with Salisbury, having begun his full-time professional career at Salisbury Festival 30 years ago. He received a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to music.

The 2019 Salisbury Festival also included a new Festival of Ideas, curated by Nobel Peace Prize winner Rebecca Johnson, which explored questions of the global nuclear threat, climate change and contemporary politics.

Next year’s Salisbury International Arts Festival will run from 22nd May to 7th June 2020.