#SussexTogether - major new arts festival will unite Sussex East and West

A major new Sussex-wide arts festival will capture the spirit of togetherness which is seeing us through the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

The #SussexTogether Festival of the Arts
The #SussexTogether Festival of the Arts

The new festival will testify to the “talent, strength, endurance and hopes of the people of Sussex in a difficult year,” organisers say.

It will offer an exhibition of art, sculpture and photography alongside evenings of poetry, music and possibly theatrical performance – all in celebration of the way our communities negotiated and survived the darkest days of March, April and May.

The festival will also rejoice in the way our communities have moved into the renewed optimism of early summer with significant areas of lockdown starting to ease.

The #SussexTogether Festival of the Arts will be a collaboration between Chichester Cathedral and Sussex Newspapers, part of JPIMedia.

The diocese of Chichester is pretty much co-terminus with Sussex.

Sussex Newspapers comprises all your favourite local trusted newspapers and websites including the Chichester Observer Series, the Worthing Herald Series, the West Sussex County Times, the West Sussex Gazette, Crawley Observer, Littlehampton Gazette, Mid Sussex Times, Eastbourne Herald, Sussex Express, Hastings Observer Series and Brighton and Hove Independent. The festival will take place during the first two weeks of November.

Canon Daniel Inman, Chancellor of Chichester Cathedral, said: “The aim of the #SussexTogether Festival is to encourage people across Sussex to get creative during the lockdown and the subsequent easing – painting, sculpting, photographing, writing prose, poetry and drama and composing – around the theme of #sussextogether however people wish to interpret it.

“The festival will – both online across the summer and showcased for a fortnight in November in Chichester Cathedral – testify to the talent, strength, endurance and hopes of the people of Sussex in a difficult year.”

Dan added: “November would be particularly appropriate as a time when in the Church calendar we naturally ponder those whom we have loved and lost, but it’s also as a time of hopeful expectation. I think the exhibition could be a powerful testimony to both honouring those we’ve lost but also looking with hope to our future.”

People can exhibit online during the lockdown and its aftermath, posting their creations on social media using the hashtag #sussextogetherfest or tagging @sussextogether on Twitter and Instagram.

If social distancing permits, the most inspiring artistic contributions will be showcased in a two-week festival in Chichester Cathedral in the first two weeks of November. The hope is also to arrange a number of guest speakers during the festival. If social distancing makes this impossible, the exhibition be online only.

Phil Hewitt, group arts editor with Sussex Newspapers, said: “We have been through the most extraordinary few months and as we start to rebuild our lives, it is so important that we reflect on what really matters. And the arts matter hugely.

“Our arts calendar was wiped out – ironically at a time when we had never needed the arts more. The result was a remarkable outpouring of creativity on social media. We want to harness that now across Sussex and turn it into a celebration of all that makes Sussex special.

“Our newspapers cover all of Sussex, as does the diocese of Chichester. That means the Cathedral, as the Mother Church of the Diocese, and our papers are brilliantly positioned to lead this celebration. Obviously, we don’t know yet what stage we will have reached by November, but we want to start the planning now.”

Bestselling novelist and playwright Kate Mosse, who lives in Chichester, has agreed to be one of the new festival’s patrons along with The Bishop of Chichester, The Right Rev Martin Warner.

Submissions to the Cathedral exhibition and performances will be judged by panels made up of leading local artists, writers and musicians.

You can send photos/work to [email protected] or upload your contribution via the website.The website is http://www.sussextogether.org; @sussextogether on Twitter; www.facebook.com/sussextogether; and @sussextogether on Instagram.

The event will be supported by the South Downs Poetry Festival


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