A vibrant arts community is cause for us to celebrate

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During any period of economic strife, it is often the world of the arts that suffers first.

And it is hard to argue that funding should go to theatres, artistic projects and such like when there are also vital services that are begging for civic cash.

This is why it is heartening that, if anything, Portsmouth has proved to have an increasingly vibrant arts community in recent years.

Yes, there have been setbacks (the closure of The Cellars at Eastney, the delays in reopening the New Theatre Royal) but we are nothing if not resilient in this part of the world.

There is much to be proud of here, culturally speaking. We have new artistic enterprises and galleries springing up on a regular basis.

We can now boast several festivals that attract people in their tens of thousands, providing a major boost to the local economy.

And the new scheme at the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth will soon create an artists’ quarter with 13 new studios.

We should not think of ‘the arts’ as something that is exclusively highbrow or elitist.

It encompasses events such as The Summer Show, with its pop acts and reality TV stars, as much as the latest season from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

It is against this backdrop that the Portsmouth Festivities returns, and appears to be thriving. Launching today for its 17th year, the annual jamboree of arts and culture features more than 100 events across the city – and many of them are free.

Whether you are interested in music, theatre, art, family events, poetry, talks or cinema, there will be something that will appeal to the majority of people.

The festivities’ ongoing success is something that we should all celebrate.