ArtBeat 2016 Festival Dates

Save the date for ArtBeat 2016

The ArtBeat team is delighted to announce that ArtBeat Community Arts Festival will be back on the streets of Clarendon Park again this summer.

ArtBeat 2016 will run from Friday 17 June – Monday 27 June. Mark your diary for another fab festival packed with music, storytelling, dance, film and more.

ArtBeat 2016 Programme

Following the success of the 2014 and 2015 ArtBeat festivals, this will be our third year celebrating local talent in the Clarendon Park area.

This year’s volunteer organisers are beavering away planning a whole host of events for ArtBeat 2016. You’ll recognise some old favourites as well as some very exciting new talent this year.

We are especially excited to introduce a brand new film strand to the events on offer. Stay tuned and check the Programme section of the site for more news as the events schedule starts to take shape.

ArtBeat Volunteers Needed

If you love the arts and have some time to spare, then get involved! ArtBeat can’t happen without the generous efforts of volunteers. We need help with organising events, delivering leaflets, not to mention the all-important artists and performers.

If you can help in any way, please contact info@clarendonpark.net, we’d love to hear from you.

ArtBeat 2016 Sponsorship

Each year the festival relies on generous sponsorship received from local businesses and organisations. Thanks once again to all who helped the 2015 festival happen.

If you are interested in sponsoring ArtBeat this year, please contact sponsorship@clarendonpark.net to discuss how you can be a part of the 2016 festival.

University of Leicester Big Band

Lunchtime Concerts in November

University of Leicester MusiciansJoin the talented University of Leicester students on Wednesday 18th and 25th of November at 1.30 pm for two FREE lunchtime concerts.

The University of Leicester Musicians on November 18th will feature solo singers, players and pianists. Performances will range from classical pieces to musical theatre.

The Leicester University Big Band will treat us to 9 pieces including film favourites like; Pure Imagination, Pink Panther, Incredibles and Gonna Fly Now (Rocky).

All are welcome to these free admission 90-minute concerts, so add the dates to your diary. Refreshments will be available.

Concert Details

University of Leicester Big BandUniversity of Leicester Musicians
Date: Wednesday, November 18th
Time: 1.30 pm
Venue: Christchurch, 105a Clarendon Park Road, Leicester LE2 3AH
Solo singers, players and pianists in music ranging from classical pieces to musical theatre.

University of Leicester Big Band and Friends
Date: Wednesday, November 25th
Time: 1.30 pm
Venue: Christchurch, 105a Clarendon Park Road, Leicester LE2 3AH

About the Musicians

University of Leicester MusiciansMusic at the University of Leicester is a student-run activity organised by the Music Association. About 350 students are involved in music as a recreational activity in 7 different bands choirs or groups;

  • Orchestra,
  • Chorus,
  • Chamber Choir,
  • Voices,
  • Big Band,
  • Concert Band and
  • Band and Gigs.

The lunchtime concerts at Christchurch, Clarendon Park Road will be a showcase for the amazing musical talent of the University of Leicester students.

The concerts are a Christchurch, ArtBeat and University of Leicester collaboration.

ArtBeat 2015 launch party

ArtBeat 2015 is done and dusted

ArtBeat 2015 launch partyAnd what a festival it was! We hope you all enjoyed the incredible variety of events on offer at ArtBeat 2015. The feedback and photos were certainly fabulous.

Making ArtBeat 2015

We would like to thank the many volunteers and sponsors who made the festival a reality this year.

Huge thanks to the local authority, Leicester City Council. The council made grants available to support the running costs of the festival. The council community grants went towards activities such as publicity and promotion.

We also received generous donations from commercial sponsors. The principal sponsor for ArtBeat 2015 was ZigZag Photography in Portland Road. Thank you ZigZag!

The festival also received donations from 25 local retailers, in particular, the retail outlets in Queens Road and Clarendon Park Road. Donations come in the form of cash or in-kind contributions.

Find out more about ArtBeat partners and sponsors here.

Until next time…

Stay tuned for more of what’s coming next for ArtBeat and how you can get involved. Meanwhile, reminisce by reading the 2015 ArtBeat blog and enjoying this clip of the Lonesome Pines.

Culture and cake at ArtBeat 2015

The last day but not the last of ArtBeat

Culture and cake at ArtBeat 2015I detected a definite spring in my step as on a lovely sunny morning I walked round to Vernon House, sheltered housing for the elderly at the end of Avenue Road. We were there for a reprise of With Great Pleasure which we had pioneered at VH last year. When we arrived we were greeted by not only expectant faces but also a splendid display of home-baked goodies by Karen, one of the neighbours. As an accompaniment to morning coffee they were terrific. We had had Poems on Toast on Sunday morning; now it was to be Poems with Cake.

I counted 17 as we sat down and made the introductions. We had a lovely range of poems starting with one from Mary which her father had read to her when she was a little girl. She is still able to recite it word for word. We had an evocative poem by Norman McCaig about his grandmother chosen by Ann which led to some shared recollections about grandmothers; a reading of poetry and prose in honour of the Gurkhas from Derek; a poem by Daphne that her mother had given her on her wedding day that prompted a reminiscence from Kumud about her own wedding; a rousing poem of defiance and pride by Maya Angelou read by Brenda; and much more from Karen, Carol and others. This all gave rise to some lovely shared memories that were heart-warming and life-affirming. It became clear that Vernon House is not just a home for people but a community too. And the cakes were scrumptious. It was really a terrific morning with our friends from Vernon House asking for more return visits of this kind. Make no mistake: the show will go on!

At the other end of the age spectrum we had a great hour of story-telling for small children in the Knighton Library with an African story beautifully told by Jill Jobson. This was followed by an Indian story read by Jane Clarke and vividly illustrated by movement artist Nimisha Parma accompanied by her son on the drum. The fifteen or so small children seated on the floor around them were enthralled and many of them, when invited, made excellent expressive movements of elephants and mice. It was charming and it was great to see the children still engaging so well after a full day at school.

There were two events in the evening of contrasting kinds. At The Lancaster School Steve Cartwright played a set of songs of working-class struggle which was well received by an appreciative audience. And in Fingerprints the usual Tuesday night gathering of Knit and Natter was supplemented by some newcomers who all enjoyed helping each other out as they got to grips with their knitting challenges and enjoyed each other’s company.

The big event of the evening was held in the Knighton and Clarendon Park Club on the corner of Queens Road and Clarendon Park Road. Over a hundred people, regulars and newcomers, were packed into the main bar for a book quiz that had everyone eyes down and whispering in team huddles for an hour and a half. It was thirsty work and the bar was at risk of running out of glasses. The questions were tough but fair and everyone appreciated the challenge. After the winners were announced and prizes given out, we were then treated to a set by Leicester’s top ukulele band, The N’Ukes, who gave us some great renditions, including a novel version of Jumping Jack Flash. It was a gas, gas, gas!

And then finally this blogger was called upon to close the wonderful five days of festival with a piece of doggerel as Epilogue. So here it is.

ArtBeat 2015: Epilogue

Our revels now are ending
The curtain is descending.
Now it’s here, now it’s passed
But what a triumph, what a blast!
Friday evening, sky was blue
Drummers, dancers, singers too;
And Liz’s ode to launch the fun
For young and old and everyone.
Five full days, numbers growing
The curious gather, to’ing, fro’ing.
Musicians, poets, popping up
For pavement drinkers as they sup.
Voices United will never be defeated
Photos e-mailed, facebooked, tweeted.
Lunchtime concerts, numbers spiking
Novice poets, open miking
Richard Gill’s architectural walk
Short story winners, Chalk and Talk
200 visitors I’ve been told
Down th’allotments off Queens Road
People writing for themselves,
Memoir, poetry, fairy-tales
Celidh dancing, zumba, Latin
Where did people do all that in?
Schools and churches, cafes, bars,
Shul, Gurdwara, never far.
I’m sorry, I can’t tell it all
If I go on, it’s bound to pall
Instead I’ll draw this to a close
By mentioning someone I’ve chose
To doff my cap to, novice busker
A lad I know as Thurnby Oscar
Whose pitch was oft by Gareth’s seat
Two symbols of ArtBeat’s heartbeat!
So gentles all, it’s my delight
To bid you all “Safe Home, Good Night”

Open mic at Dos Hermanos

And still there was more

At Christchurch there was another lunchtime concert this time provided by five talented students at Leicester University who sang or played classical songs or songs from musicals such as Oklahoma and Phantom of the Opera. Leicester University does not run a music degree so these are not music students but considering the talent and enthusiasm they displayed they certainly could be. The concert was conducted by Paul Jenkins who conducted the Knighton Chamber orchestra on Sunday and who has done so much to promote music in the university and the local community.

Many of those attending then crossed the road to the Chinese Community Centre where there was a short concert of Chinese music played on traditional instruments. Throughout the afternoon 120 (yes a hundred and twenty!) people came. There were lovely Chinese pancakes and spring rolls to make and eat and visitors had the chance to practise some Chinese crafts such as paper-cutting and calligraphy. This was excellent Chinese hospitality, provided in a modest but generous manner, and an opportunity for people from one culture to get a glimpse into another.

Residents of South Lodge, a home for the elderly on London Road, took part in a With Great Pleasure meeting where they chose poems they wanted to read and talk about. A Shakespeare sonnet, and poems by William Wordsworth and Maya Angelou were read as well as one or two poems written or remembered and recited by themselves. It was a lovely occasion, punctuated by tea and doughnuts, and at the end ArtBeat organisers were asked if they could arrange another later in the year.

At St John’s Parish hall, there was a memoir writing workshop led by Mary Essinger and attended by about fifteen people curious to learn about this increasingly popular genre. After being invited to talk in pairs about a frightening incident in childhood, people were then asked to write about it and then take it in turns to read out what they had written to each other. There were some interesting reminiscences about parents arguing, and children getting lost on a beach when on holiday. I cannot help thinking that this may well lead to an ArtBeat inspired self-managing memoir writing group in the not too distant future.

Later that evening at the same venue people turned out to hear local writers Mahsuda Snaith, Stuart Hill and Andrew Sharp talk about writing. It was great to see some of the winners of the ArtBeat short story writing competition there flushed with their recent success. Each of the three writers on the panel took it in turns to read a sample of their writing and then answer questions from the floor. The event worked well, mainly because the writers were very different in background and in what they chose to write about and also because they were so lacking in ego and generous with each other. The questions from the floor revealed further insights into the process of writing, what motivates people to write and how they get started. It was fascinating to your blogger who only intended to stay for a little while but got so engaged with the writers and the subject matter that I decided to stay for the duration.

Open mic at Dos HermanosBy the time I had finished with this and got to Dos Hermanos for the Open Mic evening, things were really buzzing and the legendary Brian, king of karaoke, was well into his Presley renditions. His singing of The Girl of My Best Friend was masterly and would have had the King worried. Kenny Wilson managed the whole process effortlessly and the denizens of Dos were treated to some excellent music from a number of groups and individuals representing a wide demographic. This was a fitting tribute to local musician Lianne Ashberry to whom the evening was dedicated and an £113 was collected for charity in her memory. Excellent!

Meanwhile at The Cradock Bands Night was in full swing with many of the musicians delighted to be asked because of the fun they had had at the event last year. this was much enjoyed by an appreciative audience.

Poetry on Toast at ArtBeat 2015

Sunday Wonderful ArtBeat Sunday

Poetry on Toast at ArtBeat 2015A full programme of 14 events and activities on Sunday and there is no way I can do justice to all of them. So I will confine myself to comments on those I was able to get to and refer to any other reflections picked up from elsewhere.

For me the day started in a sunlit Fingerprints Cafe with Poems on Toast, a new time and place for the Open Mic for Poets session that had been such a success at Babelas last year. Again the event was well attended, even at 9.30 on a Sunday morning, with up to 40 people coming in and out over the hour.

Local poet Liz Gray led the event calmly at a pace well fitted for the time of day. She encouraged people to read their work and also recited some of her own including a repeat of the festival ode she had written for the launch and a wonderful poem about the Lady who lived in a Van made famous by Alan Bennett. From the floor we had an amusing poem from Becky on how a company tried to enthuse its staff to reduce their stress and live more healthily; and a poignant love poem from Lynn. The vibe in the cafe was friendly and supportive so even people not used to reading poems out loud in public had a go. A great start to the day.

This was followed by a special event; the announcement and award of prizes for ArtBeat’s first short story competition. Literary agent, Penny Kitchener of Luithlen Agency, who was one of the judges, read out the titles and names of entrants and described the qualities of their work which made them special. She said that overall the standard of writing had been very high in both the adult and the children’s (under 16) competition.

The winners of the children’s competition was Martha Yeoman, with Lucia Gozy Kirkden and Tamara Thompson runners-up. In the adults section the winner was Alison Duthie with Kate Myers and Lisa Williams runners-up. Note that these stellar writers are all women or girls. Where are the men and the boys? If they are not writing, is that because they are not reading? Congratulations to all the winners, including others highly commended; and to the judges too. The stories are to be posted on the festival website.

Chalk and Talk at Clarendon Park Community GardensIn the afternoon the sun continued to shine which made it all the more gratifying that there were at least two outdoor community events that drew in good numbers. In Bulwer Road there was Chalk & Talk in the (now not so) new community garden that is cared for by people in the neighbouring streets.

The idea was to introduce people to this amenity, enjoy some summertime music courtesy of Green Shoots, invite people to hang out and talk and perhaps try a bit of their own artwork by chalking on the wall of the garden. The music certainly helped to make this work very well.

Further south down Queens Road, allotmenteers were happy to open up their plots to the public. At the same time visitors were able to view some of the work of talented printmaker Sarah Kirby. You can read more about the special print of the allotments she has created on the blog I posted last week (“Branching Out” 16 June).

Usually a few more than sixty people visit the open day but on this occasion there were between 150-200, the difference said to be almost certainly due to the publicity going to a much wider audience under the ArtBeat banner. So many people came who said they had not even been aware the allotments existed.

Live music always adds to the pleasure of these occasions and this was no exception. People’s enjoyment was enhanced by some fantastic busking from the very talented Greenshoots Ceilidh orchestra, followed by Dead Question – a trio of 2 guitars and percussion who entertained us with a couple of great sets. They were followed up by a small group of three very talented, very young musicians who played the violin, and who also happen to have a strong link to the allotments.

Dead Question at the Queens Road Allotments, ArtBeat 2015But of course the other major draw was Sarah Kirby’s prints. Our event was truly lifted on to a different level by her participation. The newly commissioned print of the allotments was really well received and people put their money down and bought eight of the ten prints, as well as many of her cards and other prints.

There was also a friendly visit from our community police officers, and three local councillors, two Lynns and Patrick. It was great of them to come along to another ArtBeat event. All in all it was a lovely day.

Other events during the day included a specially laid-on wedding at the Gurdwara preceded by food. At Christchurch an appreciative audience savoured performances of Haydn’s Nelson Mass and selections from the Messiah by the Knighton Chamber Orchestra and Tudor Choir. At South Lodge there was a tea dance. About 40 people turned up for food, music and poetry in Lesley and Tony’s garden. And at the Progressive Synagogue in Avenue Road another 40 or so people were entertained by three professional musicians from out of town, Dean who appears to be something of a rock star and cantor Gershon all the way from Canada, accompanied by Franklyn on the keyboard.

In the evening upstairs at Cultura well over 30 people were given a class in the tango as part of a Latino dance night. Some of the moves looked extremely technical to this particular bystander, but everybody had a go. And as the instructor said at the end, dancing should be about having fun so don’t get too hung up on the moves; go out and enjoy one of the many classes on offer locally.

Finally at The Donkey there was a full house for a jazz evening with four bands taking their turn to entertain us. For me the pick were the Afro-City Swingsters, thirteen people crammed on to a small stage and playing numbers that had melody and rhythm. People, including a few in ArtBeat T-shirts, danced alone or in couples New Orleans style, to some of the Township tunes and the atmosphere was tremendous. As someone said, looking at the demographic of some of the players we want to make sure they all get their flu jabs if we are to continue to enjoy what they have to offer for years to come! But then who am I to comment?