Parish council puts on arts festival

A JAM-packed line up of performances, workshops and exhibitions will take place this weekend thanks to a parish council which decided it needed to showcase and celebrate its local arts through a dedicated festival.

St Stephen Parish Council chairman Bill Pryce first mooted the idea around 18 months ago and it generated so much interest that the festival at Greenwood Park Community Centre in Chiswell Green will span across three days, from Friday evening to Sunday.

Numerous other councillors and volunteers joined forces with Cllr Pryce to organise the event which is completely free and will feature art exhibitions, performances from bands including rock, brass and woodwind groups as well as folk, salsa, morris and belly dancers and plenty of art, dance and craft workshops for the young and old alike including patchwork and calligraphy sessions and a butterfly drawing competition.

The St Stephen Parish Arts Festival, which will be opened at 7.30pm tomorrow (Friday) by artist Katharina Kubrick followed by a performance from rock band The Fantastic ‘Defamers’, will take place in the community centre and across three marquees. There will be food on offer including cream teas between 3pm and 5pm on Saturday afternoon as Bill Rumford’s brass quintet and woodwind ensemble take to the stage.

Cllr Pryce said: “About a year ago I started to put things together and other councillors became involved as well as a couple of other people experienced in running these kinds of things and it started to take shape.

“We got local clubs involved, local artists and the photographic society and once word started to get around it escalated to a point where we had so many people that it would fill the three days that we wanted. It’s pretty exciting stuff.”

The festival has been funded with �2,500 of parish council money as well as a donation from St Stephen county councillor Aislinn Lee who contributed the same amount out of her locality budget.

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Cllr Pryce, who thanked everyone for their help in organising the event, hopes that the festival will become a biannual event which will take place on an increasingly bigger scale in the future, across various local venues including the community centre as well as village halls and pubs.

He added: “I think this will bring a lot of unity in these days of austerity. You have to pay for any food but the rest of it is completely free. Come down and enjoy yourselves, it will be really good fun. It will showcase local talent – there’s lots of it and it needs to be seen.”

A full programme appeared in last week’s Herts Advertiser and the schedule can also be viewed at