The few days immediately following any large event feels flat for the organisers, as the energy expended during the preparation and staging of it begins to be noticed…and the aftermath of Taunton Live 2017 Arts Festival was no different for Jenny or Liz, its co-organisers. Then, when a week or so has passed, it begins to register that the next one, if there is to be a fourth Taunton Live, now needs to be planned…
Taunton Live 2017 was an amazing success, bringing colour, arts, music, dance, crafts, costume and culture from Romania, Africa, India, the Far east, New Zealand, Scotland, Wales, and many more places to the streets of Taunton for a week in July, despite very little funding and crazy wet weather. Local businesses were tempted into ‘adopting’ local artists’ and displaying their work, hand-painted banners adorned Hammett Street and Riverside Place, graffiti in the form of knitting ‘bombed’ many buildings and areas to enliven them and add colour and fun. Over 20 community groups and charities combined to create a banner trail, several groups supporting adults in need were included in our programme of entertainment too, showing our festival to be an honest reflection of all parts of our community. What a ball we all had – in spite of the rain!
A huge exhibition by over 700 school children occupied all of the foyer spaces at the Brewhouse, whilst competition exhibitions were staged there too. The Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre, Taunton Library, The Temple Methodist Church and the upstairs room at The Winchester Arms on Castle Green all housed a variety of artworks by local creatives.
Castle Green itself was alive for four days with poetry, live music, dance and community involvement bringing a taste of our more culturally diverse Taunton, making people feel included and valued by sharing arts, crafts, costume, music and dance from all sections of the Taunton Deane community.
But what of the future? Does Taunton need Taunton Live, the creative and performing arts festival? Can the organisers dig out another festival on a relative shoe-string? Should Taunton Deane Council support this initiative, to attract people to our town through celebrating the arts in all its glorious forms?
Should we model our festival on Edinburgh, with a mix of ticketed, charging events covering classical music, theatre, comedy, popular music and dance alongside free creative activities and exhibitions? Should the original aim of providing a platform for local creatives, for bringing the Arts to those who may not necessarily have come face to face with opera, Shakespeare or Poetry or have the opportunity to make from clay, print designs or paint a canvas, stand along side commercial provision by the theatres and arts centres and everything come under the one umbrella of Taunton Festival for a week?
Serious talks need to be entered into, sponsors need to be found and funding applied for from a variety of sources if there is to be the faint possibility of another Taunton Live Arts Festival next year or in the future! How great would it be to have some joined-up thinking and planning for the future for 2019 or 2020???
Please have your say – add your comments to this blog, or Facebook or Twitter links and help us make informed decisions for the future. Thank you.