Welcome to the website of Stroud Arts Festival, a charity promoting and supporting all types of artistic activities throughout the Stroud District. Founded in 1946, it’s the ‘grandparent’ of all the wonderful festivals this area has to offer.
LATEST NEWS Our world premiere headline show, Peter Pan – a new musical – is fully sold out.
Announcing our new outreach ticket scheme
For this 76th Stroud Arts Festival we are offering free places at some of our concerts to people who might otherwise not be able to attend. If we are lucky enough to experience the benefits that live music has to offer – to our health and well-being as well as the obvious enjoyment it brings – then it’s hard to imagine not being able to access these events. Sharing this wonderful art form with others can enhance our own appreciation too.
We are linking with local NHS services, community hubs and similar organisations to provide free places to some of our world class concerts. We keep all our under 18’s tickets at £5 to reach as many young people as possible and our Relaxed Performances are all free entry (though booking is required).
So when you can buy a ticket to one of our events you will also be supporting our scheme to share these experiences more widely.
Announcing The 76th Festival Programme
19 to 23 October 2022 at venues in Stroud.
Touchpoints, interactions, serendipitous moments… this 76th Stroud Arts Festival is all about Connections. Today we need connections more than ever, to remake friendships with each other and re-engage with the world beyond our four walls. As we join back in with life and events following what has been a most strange, and for many, highly isolating experience, the arts can help us reconnect. Against this background, we are proud to present this year’s programme which weaves together local history, creativity and our relationships. Our Guest Artistic Director, Dave Ayre, has put together a programme making connections between music and words, people and places, national and local.
Festival Programme sponsored by RBC Brewin Dolphin
Programme highlights below and details of all the events here. Tickets for all shows are on sale now
Saturday 22 October 2022
As the headline show of the Festival we are thrilled to announce the world premiere of Peter Pan – A New Musical, with words written by much-loved poet and national treasure Pam Ayres, and music from award-winning composer Louis Mander. The production will be performed by members of The Hewletts Opera, narrated by Classic FM host and children’s author Zeb Soanes and the chorus provided by the Minpins Children’s Choir. Read more here
A celebration of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams’ 150th anniversary with David Le Page and the Le Page Ensemble on Wednesday 19 October 2022 Includes the nation’s favourite ‘The Lark Ascending’. The programme also pays homage to the composer’s love of English folk music in a set of beautiful arrangements by members of the ensemble.
Read more here
Friday 21 October 2022 sees an exciting jazz-classical collaboration between the internationally renowned Carducci Quartet and local favourites the Dave Ayre Trio. An eclectic programme of music representing local heritage and landscape, with a narrative thread from author Anthony Burton.
Read more here
Find a list of all the events in this year’s Festival, including sponsored events, here
Keep an eye on this page and our social media posts for more information and our full brochure is available now from the Sub Rooms Box Office and various venues around town.
For regular updates and to find out more about our work you can subscribe to our newsletter
Sponsored Events for 2022
We continue to sponsor and support other events during the year under our Grant scheme. Read about the scheme and how to apply here.
In April we sponsored a wonderful exhibition of glass art at Stroud’s Museum in the Park. This exciting event took place during the International Year of Glass and celebrated the work of 3 generations of renowned kiln-cast glass artists, some of whom still operate from studios in and around Stroud.
And finally in December we sponsor the return of Dave Ayre’s Baroque Night at Lansdown Hall
For regular updates and to find out more about our work you can subscribe to our newsletter
Stroud Arts Festival – 75 Anniversary Season Highlights
To celebrate our 75 Year Anniversary, we held a world-class series of events in various venues around Stroud, stretching from Autumn 2021 through to Spring 2022.
Our thanks go to our Guest Artistic Director, Dave Ayre, for bringing us such a wonderful series of world class concerts and we look forward to seeing his plans for the autumn Festival 2022.
You can see below some highlights from the Anniversary season.
In the meantime we continue to host events, sponsor other festivals and give grants to other projects To see our latest events please see our ‘Events’ section. To receive updates do subscribe to our newsletter.
Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in a Relaxed Performance
In April the relaxed performances of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro were intimate, interactive and somewhat humbling, allowing music that might be seen as inaccessible to be shared with a wide variety of people, from special needs children to adults that simply didn’t think opera was for them. The Hewlett’s Opera Ensemble’s Abigail Sudbury and Alistair Sutherland delivered sterling renditions of some of the cherished piece’s most famous arias, to rousing applause.
Before, after, and in between, performers and audience sang children’s songs, took requests on what love means, and otherwise capered around the Sub Rooms. Not surprisingly, the performers loved it too.
“To be able to include the audience and be so close broke down a lot of barriers, and just made the performance feel more alive and inclusive,” said Abigail.
Agreed Alistair, “It was great fun to perform such beautiful music in this beautiful venue, but without the usual restrictions so that everyone could come and enjoy it.”
Musicians Hugh Blogg, Toby Deller, Manos Charalabopoulos and SAF’s artistic diirector Dave Ayre somehow conjured an entire orchestra between them.
On 27 February 2022, a performance of John Tavener’s The Protecting Veil brought our series of concerts to a close in the beautiful and atmospheric St. Laurence Church. A fitting finale to our 75 year celebrations, it provided a rare opportunity to experience this iconic piece of music played so movingly by the internationally acclaimed duo of Kathryn Price, cellist, and Charles Matthews, organist.
Dave Ayre’s Baroque Night on February 18 2022 was a sell-out performance held on one of the wettest, windiest nights of the winter. These fine musicians battled through the storm on journeys from Wales, Manchester and other parts of the UK, navigating fallen trees and even wheeling the harpsichord through the park, to reach the packed Lansdown Hall. They gave us an evening of wonderful music and thankfully it was The Band who brought the house down and not the storm as this much covid-postponed event finally made it to the stage.
Our final event in the Autumn Season was a scintillating performance of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, performed by The Hewletts Opera. Set in some indeterminate 1970s period, this funny, witty, insightful production by Maria Jagusz provided a platform for some very talented young singers to take centre stage – and they certainly lived up to the challenge. Accompanied by The Hewlett Opera Players – a string trio and pianist performing their own arrangement of the music, the performance was sung in English under the passionate guidance of their conductor Louis Mander. The performance was a great antidote to our current woes, lifting our spirits and sending the audience home smiling. We hope to see more of this fledgling opera company.
A highlight of the Autumn Season was a visit from Sinfonia Viva, featuring violinist Sophie Rosa. This is a world-class orchestra with a passion for bringing music to those who often miss out – the young, the elderly, those with special needs – and a desire to share live music as widely as possible. We showed our support by bringing them to Stroud with a concert of sublime classical music and a rapt, very enthusiastic Stroud audience showed their approval of their choice of music and the high quality of their playing. A wonderful evening and for many, a very special return to live music.
The following day Sinfonia Viva introduced families with babies and small children to their informal, fun, interactive event Flutter & Fly with Jack Ross and Eleanor Meredith. Sell out performances saw children making music along with the professionals, watching a story unfold with live illustration happening on the big screen in front of them and the show magnificently interpreted by BSL’s Donna West. The children all left clutching their free CD and book of the story and songs they had just experienced. A wonderful family occasion.
Our October exhibition was a week long show of contemporary art at the George Room in the Sub Rooms, Stroud, showcasing work by 18 local artists who had all been involved with our charity in some way during the past decade. This free entry exhibition received over 300 visitors. Comments from visitors:
‘wonderful variety of work – some exceptionally lovely pieces’
‘thought-provoking and some powerful themes‘
‘how fortunate we are to have such a collection of talented artists‘
‘great exhibition – best I’ve seen in a while!‘ ‘inspiring!’
Visitors were also given information on the work of Stroud Arts Festival during its 75-year history and were able to read about the legacy bequeathed by founder Netlam Bigg.
In September we sponsored the production of Peace In Our Time, a Noel Coward play set in an alternative WW2, with performances at St. Laurence Church and the Cotswold Playhouse. This was a masterly production by the Cotswold Players, with music from the local Capriol Orchestra and Stroud Choral Society showing the combined talents of performing groups in this area.
Our Autumn line-up started in September with the wonderfully moving and uplifting Gratitude – A Song Cycle for our Times– staged in the Museum in the Park Pavilion. These sell-out performances by the Acapellies Community Choir, led by Eleanor Holliday, were inspired by prize-winning poet Alice Oswald’s poem ‘Gratitude’, written during lockdown.
The musical journey led us through the cycles of Lamentation, Healing and Gratitude which we have all experienced during this Covid pandemic and provided a gentle way for people to come together again and give thanks.
2020 FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS
Many of our planned events in 2020, including the annual visit from our favourite ballet company, Ballet Cymru, have been put on hold whilst Covid -19 restrictions are in place.
Stroud Arts Festival is delighted to have been able to support the following projects in Autumn 2020, all delivered digitally:
December 2020 until early 2021: Stroud Arts Festival continue to help fund EVERYTHING IS LIGHT at Stroud Subscription Rooms, a fantastic family attraction featuring a maze of illuminated tunnels and hidden rooms bathed in colour – all from the unbridled imagination of Jack Wimperis. See information and updates on the exhibition here.
November 26: Stroud Arts Festival supported Stroud Subscription Rooms for their very special evening of world-class music featuring Stroud’s own Dave Ayre Trio, the award-winning Carducci String Quartet and author, historian and BBC presenter Anthony Burton, live-streamed from inside Jack Wimperis’s incredible exhibition EVERYTHING IS LIGHT. Full details here.
November 5: Stroud Arts Festival continued its long-standing support of Stroud Book Festival in funding the Poetry event, IN NEARBY BUSHES with Kei Miller, introduced by Adam Horovitz.
October 29 and upcoming event 5 February 2021: The Robert Wedderburn Project from Last Legs Theatre has been funded in part by Stroud Arts Festival. You can find out more on our events page here and on their website here: www.robertwedderburnproject.com
2019 FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS
In collaboration with a number of other organisations in Stroud we brought you a diverse range of events in 2019, all with Revolution in mind. Thank you to the wonderful artists,performers,technicians and venue staff who made it all happen and of course to the audiences who made it all worthwhile.
Playground was a great hit with children of all ages. A weekend of fun and creative play for all the family.
R is for Revolution was an inspired and inspiring community project led by Christine Felce and Rachel Oram from the Gloucestershire Printmaker’s Co-operative.
We supported the wonderful Wool and Water Festival which ran throughout the month of September.
The Selsey Common rally in support of the Chartist Movement was commemorated with a performative walk from Radical Stroud.
Music which caused a riot! But only when first performed in 1913. Stroud was thrilled with a stunning performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring by 2 very talented pianists.
The specially commissioned song recital from Clare McCaldin and friends brought the musical performances to an end.
And Cotswold Players showed us a revolutionary version of the great ‘revolution’ play by William Shakespeare.
Dance: Our favourite dance troupe Ballet Cymru returned to Stroud for their annual performance, this year with their creative (revolutionary?) production of Romeo and Juliet.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on any aspect of Stroud Arts Festival’s work.