ArtBeat 2014 – Day 4

Another great day. Found myself in the Tart House on Holmfield Road at tea time where near neighbour and local MP Jon Ashworth spotted my ArtBeat tee-shirt and commended the festival for taking off and for blending in so well with the Art House week-end. Jon and his young family alongside many others were enjoying the garden and the teas, splendidly hosted by Lesley and Rick. And take a bow Lesley for baking those wonderful cakes until 3 in the morning in response to demand. They were delicious as my waistline will testify.

Back to the art. In the afternoon in the garden of Friends Meeting House children played Suzuki violin while indoors On Cue Arts ran a drama workshop for teenagers that went down very well and included improvised enactments of imagined scenes from The Diary of Adrian Mole.

At the Neve Shalom synagogue they had to put out more chairs to accommodate higher than expected numbers enjoying a selection of Jewish music enhanced by explanations and anecdotes told by synagogue chair Miriam Levine.

Later that evening the synagogue was host to a ukulele workshop for enthusiasts of all ages. Comments were overwhelmingly positive. As one person put it “I’ve never had so much fun whilst making so many mistakes”.

Meanwhile on the Queens Road, upstairs at Babelas was crammed with well over 40 people taking part in an Open Mic poetry evening led by the incomparable Rob Gee. As well as some bravura recitations of some of his own poems, he encouraged and supported local poets – some of whom were Open Mic ‘virgins’ – to read their own work. There was some strong and tender material all of which went down well with an appreciative audience. Thanks to Babelas for playing host and providing an informal and cosy ambience for people to ‘pop their cherries’, as one of the poets so expressively put it.

ArtBeat 2014 – Day 3

Saturday was definitely a day of two halves as far as the weather was concerned. Grey skies followed by steady, cold rain in the morning. Sunshine and warmth in the afternoon. But the elements had little bearing on turn-out at ArtBeat events where there were healthy numbers throughout.

Three workshops put on by Sir Jonathan North Community Collegeand LDFAS for 8-12 year-olds in photography, art and dance attracted 55 children in all. They all had a terrific time. In the photography session, the children made positive and negative images.

At Friends Meeting House, Jo Hunter led a session attended by families and people of all ages designed to bring out people’s creativity – it certainly did that.

There was a great atmosphere and good numbers for the Pagan Poets session where the hosts generously provided refreshments and music.

Those curious to learn about faith turned up to the Gurdwara for an illuminating talk about Sikhism, spiced with tasty snacks and music – fascinating.

After the early drenching the sun came out to greet the first buskers in Queens Road in almost 30 years – a sax and an accordion outside the post office. They made a sweet sound and their version of Summertime was particularly good – and the sun continued to shine. More, more, more!

Visits to some of the Art House venues showed that numbers are as good as previous years. Lots of positive comments on the way round about the way the two events seem to be adding value and interest in each other.

It was a great treat to be taken back to the melodies of the 1940s and 50s with a singing class resulting in a great rendition of the Doris Day classic The Black Hills of Dakota at Friends Meeting House in the afternoon.

Great turn out for festival launch

In brilliant sunshine – what else did you expect? – nearly two hundred people took part in the launch of ArtBeat at 5 o’clock on Friday afternoon. Troubadours converged on the car park at Christchurch, Clarendon Park Road, and brilliantly led by the musicians the gathering throng sang the festival song ArtBeat to the tune of the Buddy Holly classic Heartbeat.

As they arrived people were given balloons and copies of the Festival Quiz copies of which will be made available throughout the week. There were tasty refreshments too provided by New Delhi, the Tiny Bakery and Costa.

After some introductory words of welcome from Festival chair Sue King, there was an interview with Richard III – no stranger to car parks – who said he had always been a great supporter of the enterprise and energy of local community arts.

There then followed some excellent a capella singing from The Simpletones – they really gave it some wellie. By this time the crowd was in joyful mood and greatly appreciated a tableau of children dressed in Victorian costume, reflecting the period wheh the neighbourhood was built. Each had adopted a street name and had a limerick read out about them. You had to be there and it really worked well.

There was some energetic Morris dancing by Black Annis and then the launch culminated in some well-chosen words by City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby. He said that he had lived in Lorne Road and Howard Road when he first came to Leicester. He considered ArtBeat to be a good illustration of why Leicester was already a city of culture. He then read a celebratory ode that had been especially written for the occasion by local resident to launch the festival – printed below.

People then drifted off in high spirits looking forward to nine days of arts events and activities. First up was Voices United at Christchurch to which 150 people turned out. What a celebration of singing of different kinds it was from a number of local choirs!

We hope to see you around at the various venues over the next week. Look at the programme on this site to find out more about what’s on. You’ll be sure to find something to enjoy.

This week-end of course is Art House where local artists exhibit their works in people’s houses in the area. this is always well supported and we expect that this year will be no different.
Now for that

CELEBRATORY ODE FROM QUEENS ROAD

Leaving the takeaway with your tandoori chicken

It’s hard not to feel the pulses quicken,

As you walk through the strip on a Friday night

And sense the week-end’s gonna be all right.

The roar from the Clarrie as City score

The stately passage of the 44.

And in the week the shouts of greeting

Gossip swapped at each chance meeting.

Students, seniors, families, dogs

Sandals, boots, stilettoes, clogs.

Early mornings in the streets around

There’s altogether a more muted sound;

Birdsong, milk float, car doors closing

Indoors, in bed, people dozing.

The burnished red of bricks sun-kissed

The tops of spires encased in mist.

You heard it first, you heard it here

ArtBeat, Art House, Summer Fair.

Ten days’ creative juices flowing

Friends performing, neighbours showing.

Diverse hearts will beat as one

I wish you all success and fun!

Bryan Merton