This year Village Green festival is celebrating its 10th edition on Sat 13 July 2019.
A SHORT HISTORY OF VILLAGE GREEN
Following Metal’s arrival in Southend, in 2007, we discovered a vibrant arts scene with an abundance of artists, photographers, musicians and other creatives. There was a huge amount of interesting things going on but in relative isolation to each other. There seemed to be little or no awareness of the scope of others activities going on.
Our solution was to create a festival that could be an annual showcase of the cultural talents of Southend – that could act as a unifier for the artists involved – and that would raise the visibility of all of our activities by pooling resources to create one great day of arts and music.
We used the well-loved and well-used Chalkwell Park as the urban equivalent of a traditional Village Green and called the event by that name to signify the intent behind the atmosphere we wanted to create – a family friendly, creative day that the whole town turned out to take part in.
In the first year (2008) the event attracted an audience of 8000 and linked into the national Cultural Olympiad celebrations. It was awarded one of the first London 2012 Inspire Marks. By 2013, audience numbers had reached 31,500 with more than 500 artists from Southend, the UK and overseas – and over 80 Southend community groups – taking part. Audiences travel to Southend from all over the south east region.
The key to the success of Village Green has been its cultural mix. The partnerships we’ve formed have enabled us to succeed in including great music, literature, theatre and cabaret alongside some fiercely experimental and unusal artworks whilst creating a friendly and inclusive family and community atmosphere.
As curators, we have deliberately ensured that we include great art that appeals to all ages. Acts over the years have included: Shlomo, the beat boxer, with his vocal orchestra, renowned Indian percussionist Kuljit Bhama, Billy Bragg and his Big Busk, Wilko Johnson and Phill Jupitus singing with The Blockheads, Nothing But Thieves, Rag n Bone Man, Kate Nash, Stereo MCs, The Skints, Beth Orton, alongside knitting projects and the creation of the Worlds Longest Line of Bunting, vintage tea dance, arts & crafts, film, spoken word, poetry bingo, experimental digital arts, the Paper Cinema, the Royal Opera House, Ballet Black, puppetry, cabaret, street theatre, amateur theatre, a young talent stage, mad-cap games and much more.
It is now a much loved and anticipated annual event on Southend’s cultural calendar.
Each year, the day before the festival, we use the infrastructure that we put up for a large-scale schools festival that enables the school pupils of Southend from the ages of 5-18 to perform on a large festival stage alongside attending workshops and masterclasses in a wide range of creative careers, delivered by artists from around the UK. See Village Green: Next Generation.
Village Green Early Bird tickets can be booked on our Tickets page.
For opportunities and call outs, see our Contacts page.
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