Countdown to city festivities has begun

Left to right,  Caroline Sharman, director of the New Theatre Royal with James Priory, chairman of Portsmouth Festivities and the Deputy Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Lynne Stagg with (behind) members from Tinder Theatre who performed a short piece from Gills and Gulls.''Picture: Sarah Standing (131079-9748)

Left to right, Caroline Sharman, director of the New Theatre Royal with James Priory, chairman of Portsmouth Festivities and the Deputy Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Lynne Stagg with (behind) members from Tinder Theatre who performed a short piece from Gills and Gulls.''Picture: Sarah Standing (131079-9748)

Michael Gondelle as Johnny, Leila Millson as Sandra and Mackenzie Gilmore as Alfie in rehearsal for Stephen Lowes Touched.

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THERE was double the reason for the organisers of this year’s Portsmouth Festivities to celebrate on their launch day.

Not only was it the official start of the warm-up for June’s 10-day jamboree of music, theatre, dance, art, and much more, but they had also found out earlier in the day that a bid for £18,000 of funding from Arts Council England had been successful.

James Priory, chairman of the festivities, said: ‘Trying to pick favourites out of more than 70 events isn’t easy. At least 10 of those are either premieres or new for the festivities.

‘One that particularly stands out is Ahoy! which is a brilliant new musical with hundreds of people involved. We know lots of schools around the country are keen to get their hands on it, so it will have a life beyond Portsmouth.

‘I’m also looking forward to Tubular Bells, which has two Australian musicians perform the whole thing, and of course the opening concert with the King’s Singers at Portsmouth Cathedral.’

‘We are still growing and there are lot of organisations and groups involved this year who haven’t been involved before.

‘We’re really putting our roots down in the city as Portsmouth’s festival.

‘And it’s brilliant new about the funding, it’s going to make such a difference.’

The money will be used for Ahoy! Sing for the Mary Rose, which is premiering on June 24 at Portsmouth Guildhall.

Samantha Worsey, the festivities general manager, added: ‘The Arts Council England funding means we can broaden the project and the impact it can have in the community, particularly with children and young people.

‘It’s a brilliant opportunity for children and adults to get together and be united by our history.’

Many of the events are free.

The website will be running from Monday at portsmouthfestivities.co.uk

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