Great line-up as Petworth Festival switches to the autumn

artistic director Stewart Collinsartistic director Stewart Collins
artistic director Stewart Collins
Petworth Festival is salvaging an extraordinarily difficult year with a sparkling line-up this autumn.

Petworth’s summer festival was wiped out by the lockdown.

Instead, festival artistic director Stewart Collins has come up with a new autumn event, combining the festival’s traditional autumn literary festival with a week of highlights from the summer’s festival that didn’t happen.

Stewart has assembled an impressive array of musicians and authors who will perform/speak live at a series of events before a small socially-distanced invited audience of mostly sponsors.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The events will be live streamed to the festival’s wider audience.

The best-of week will start on Friday, October 16; and the scheduled tenth-anniversary Petworth Literary Week will then follow (Saturday, October 24-Sunday, November 1). Events will be mostly performance in the first week; mostly literary in the second; and a mix over the weekend.

Stewart will announce the full line-up on September 17 – but can confirm now that the line-up will include Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason, Mitsuko Uchida, Clare Teal, MILOŠ, Patti Boulaye, Michael Morpurgo, Anthony Horowitz, Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason and William Boyd.

“Things may change before then, but at the moment, we are intending to have a small invited audience primarily of sponsors at the concerts to give them an element of live atmosphere.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“There will be a very modest online cost per event to the general public, and we will be selling season tickets. I think it will be an absolute minimum 25 people per event live, but if conditions allow, that will increase.

“With the literary events, we also felt it was important to have a live audience because there will be an element of question and answer as well. We felt we needed an ambience that included people laughing and clapping and asking questions live. It will make a difference to those watching, but it will also make a difference to those taking part.

“Our performers were absolutely chuffed to bits at the idea of going out and performing live again after they have had such a terrible year. They were completely up for it, no qualms at all. There was a slightly greater questioning from the authors who will be offering a different format. The point of the literary festival is that authors are promoting their latest books, and that isn’t changing, but it took perhaps a little bit longer to persuade some of them that this format works.

“We have talked to some publishers who have decided that they are not doing any live events at all this year, but fortunately that’s only a minority, and we have got a good range of publishers that we are working with. But there is no doubt that across the board people have needed a degree of reassurance.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Stewart himself is reassured after the festival’s experience of streaming a concert during what should have been the festival fortnight in the second half of July.

“We had to do a lot of work with the very dull staff like method statements and risk assessments, but it gave us a very good idea of what the requirements are and how it would work.

“ We had to do everything, even including sanitising the piano keys between acts, and it worked extremely well at every level. And it gave us the model for recording something and getting it up on the web.

“It is very much a brave new world, and I hope that we will go back to the brave old world, but it has also been a very stimulating time in the sense of desperately working to make sure that the festival survives and then working to provide a platform for the museums and also something for our audiences that have been incredibly loyal.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Effectively we have had to learn to make TV programmes out of our events which obviously involves a very new set of disciplines!”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad


A message from the Editor, Gary Shipton:

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news, I am asking you to please purchase a copy of our newspapers.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspapers.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

Stay safe, and best wishes.

Gary Shipton

Editorial Director