This year’s Salisbury Festival took place from 26 May – 10 June 2017. Across 16 days Salisbury was filled with 214 different experiences performed by 1200 artists from around the world, with 43 performances selling out. 53,000 people attended events with 36,000 enjoying free entertainment throughout the city.
The final year of director Toby Smith’s four-year cycle took inspiration from Québec, as well as introducing new work from artists with lived experience of mental health.
Returning for its 45th year, the Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival ended on Saturday evening with a spectacular performance from the Festival Chorus in Salisbury Cathedral. Voices of the Whale brought to a close what has been a memorable and hugely successful 16 days for the Festival team.
Over 53,000 people attended Festival events, with 36,000 enjoying free street entertainment across Salisbury during the City Encounters opening weekend, as well as at the ever-popular Salisbury Live. 43 performances sold out, including the opening concert from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, talks from Susie Dent and Alan Johnson, an interactive performance of La Boheme from OperaUpClose and comedy from Rich Hall.
This has been the final year of Director Toby Smith’s four-year journey tracing the cardinal points of the compass, looking westwards across the ocean to the Canadian province of Québec, with visits from Québécois artists including Théâtre de la Pire Espèce, Cas Public and Le Vent du Nord. This year also introduced the new MouthPieces programme, which aimed to give a platform to artists with lived experience of mental health. Curated by Agent for Change Viv Gordon, it included theatre performances, films, talks and a Periodic Table of Emotions in the Old George Mall, which highlighted the feelings of audiences throughout the Festival.
It was also another successful year for the Festival’s Learning and Participation work. A sold-out performance from Clare Teal was broadcast to every hospital bed in Salisbury District Hospital, and the musical comedian Will Pickvance treated patients to an outdoor performance in Horatio’s Garden. In addition, military families from Tidworth were given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform in the Cathedral, having worked with musicians from the BSO in the weeks leading up to the Festival.
The Festival will take a break in 2018 and return in 2019 after the merger between the Festival, Playhouse and Arts Centre takes place. Festival Director Toby Smith said:
“For two weeks, the arts have animated every corner of this beautiful city, from the Cathedral to the Hospital, this year’s programme has been enjoyed by thousands. A fortnight of events spanning classical music to stand-up comedy kicked off with our free City Encounters weekend, bringing the finest new street theatre, circus and dance to the city’s streets, and came to a beautiful conclusion with Voices of the Whale, a show inspired by the wonder of whale song and created by a cast of 150 in our Cathedral. The success of year’s Festival brings my four years as Director here to a fitting close, and we all look forward to the next edition in 2019, as the Festival starts out on the next leg of its ongoing journey.”