Royston Arts Festival 2017: Thousands turn out for biggest event in town calendar

PUBLISHED: 13:40 26 September 2017 | UPDATED: 07:45 27 September 2017

David 'Gnasher' Nash painting the Royston crow. Picture: Karyn Haddon

David 'Gnasher' Nash painting the Royston crow. Picture: Karyn Haddon

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A fun-filled weekend of activities, performances, workshops and exhibitions - all on the theme of 'changes' - saw thousands turn out for this year's Royston Arts Festival.

Musician Melody Causton. Picture: Sue HartgaMusician Melody Causton. Picture: Sue Hartga

The festival saw a host of events at venues across the town, and was organised by Creative Royston.

A community arts event drew the crowds to Priory Memorial Gardens on Saturday afternoon with more than 700 visitors enjoying crafting and Brazilian drumming workshops, as well as performances from Royston Town Development Band, Molly Chenoa and students from Music In A Nutshell, followed by an arena performance and workshop with Garden City Samba.

Royston graffiti artist David ‘Gnasher’ Nash also shared his talents by creating a six-foot work of art live, with one spectators commenting: “It’s so clever. If you look at it close up, what looks like splashes are in fact tiny birds.”

Priory Memorial Gardens also played host to a festival first ceilidh dance, with the Dangerous Circles band.

The Phoenix Chorus were one of the first acts to perform at the Royston Arts Festival in a concert by Royston Rotary Club. Picture: Ray Munden  The Phoenix Chorus were one of the first acts to perform at the Royston Arts Festival in a concert by Royston Rotary Club. Picture: Ray Munden

On Sunday, the town was transformed into a music extravaganza as MusicFest ’17 was back in town with 24 artists performing throughout the afternoon to more than 1,000 visitors.

Creative Royston chairwoman Kirsten Grimmer told the Crow: “Once again the community has come together to celebrate Royston Arts Festival 2017. From the arts organisations providing workshops to the local businesses for MusicFest and the many arts groups involved, it’s been a great achievement.

“Thousands of people have attended events and activities across the town and the ‘changes’ theme inspired a wealth of fun activities, performances and exhibitions.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved, especially all the volunteers who make the events run smoothly, including the Creative Royston committee which has worked tirelessly behind the scenes and without whom the festival could not happen.”

The combined schools' choir. Picture: Terry HartgaThe combined schools' choir. Picture: Terry Hartga

Singer-songwriter Melody Causton returned to great applause once more, alongside first-time festival performers The Trials of Cato and Ffion Rebecca.

Royston artist Stacey Leigh Ross, who designed the festival’s cover art, said: “Just finished dancing with my four-year-old. What a riot! The last dance is on now but I’m out of breath!”

The Royston Arts Society Autumn Exhibition ran in the town hall, as did the Royston Photographic Society Changes Exhibition, both to record numbers.

On display were more than 40 of the members’ images, all based on ‘changes’.

Society member David Hatton said: “We are extremely grateful for the professional assistance of local company White Space Creative who provided the wonderful frame structures for hanging the display.

“Visitors reported being left really impressed by the sheer variety of interpretations of the challenging theme.”

Kirsten added: “Every year I am amazed to see yet more artistic talents of the town shine during the festival.

“This year we wanted to celebrate the positives of change and inspire more people to try new activities through the programme of workshops. It is fantastic to see attendance figures rise, in particular for the photographic and art society exhibitions that span the weekend, and of course MusicFest.

“From the community event and ceilidh to the vintage toys activity session at the museum; art exhibitions to a musical pub crawl, not forgetting the musical talents of our schools, GuySing and the town band during the finale concert, it is a real pleasure to see it so well attended.

“We look forward to discussing the successes of the festival and future improvements with event organisers at our consultation evening next month.”

Creative Royston will be holding an informal consultation evening.

UPDATE: This will now take place on October 10, and the venue is to be confirmed on request.

Anyone who ran an event linked to the festival or interested in getting involved is invited. Email Pam at community@creativeroyston.org to reserve a place.

They are also inviting everyone that attended an event or exhibition to complete a feedback form online – www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NZK9S6G. As they are a volunteer-led organisation, feedback helps secure sponsorship and funding for Royston Arts Festival and other arts events throughout the year.

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