Saturday July 29th 2017 saw the launch of the new Quayside Festival which brought crowds to the town centre of Bridgwater, and saw artists, performers, musicians and entertainers connecting with the public at numerous key points around the town with the river as it’s focal point.
The Festival was organised by the FUSE PERFORMANCE agency and funded by several organisations including Bridgwater Town Council, Sedgemoor District Council and the Arts Council England. The event featured a number of community groups and in particular the Bridgwater Cultural Partnership.
Town Council Thumbs Up
Leader of Bridgwater Town Council, Westover councillor Brian Smedley, said “We have been campaigning for a major summer event since the Big Bash organised by the Bridgwater Arts Centre hit Castle Street in 2015. It’s something the people have been asking for ever since. This is why the Town Council put money aside in this years budget to ensure that it happened and in particular to support the work of the Cultural Partnership – that’s our key partner organisations such as the Art Centre, the Engine Room, the Museum, Carnival, Sedgemoor FM, the College and so on, working together to put culture at the forefront of our towns revival. People I’ve spoken to so far think it worked well and especially increased footfall across the town giving traders a boost and brought a wide variety of things to do and see on a quiet summer saturday. We’re especially thankful that the amended motion to Town Council that it shouldn’t rain that day was carried unanimously. “
Chairman of Sedgemoor District Council, Cllr Mike Cresswell, said: “We have been overwhelmed with the positive comments we have from all over the district and beyond following the festival. We have secured funding for three years so with the sound of happy festival goers ringing in our ears we will get started on planning an even bigger and better event next year. I would like to thank all those who had a hand in making it so successful.”
Among those who gave up their time to ensure everything went smoothly were the Town Team, the Town Council, the District Council and Bridgwater Cultural Partnership.
Lighting a Fuse for Future events
John Lee of Fuse said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to the Councils, Funding Bodies and above all the public who helped us create a day to remember. There were events from ten in the morning to midnight and the town centre was alive with street theatre, music and performances.”
Spread across Blake Gardens, Blake Museum, Fore Street, the Library, the Arts Centre, King Square, Eastover, West Quay, Angel Place and the Engine Room, the Festival ranged from ancient skills such as archery to acoustic music and jazz.
Wealth of Local talent
Somerset based artists Sarah Lovett, Cath Jenkins, Baiba Pepe and Sophie Courtier literally painted the town while The Enchanter (that’s Bridgwater singer songwriter Claude Sandiford) and top Bridgy ska-band Shoot the Moon, among others, provided the live music.
Other highlights included The Three Musketeers show for children in Bridgwater Arts Centre, an aerial show from Sunken Circus in Angel Place and Garsington Opera’s production of Handel’s Semele screened in King Square with a chorus of singers from across Somerset joining the Bridgwater Voices Community Choir.
There were food stalls, dance acts, games, crafts and a whole host of activities celebrating the town’s culture and its past, particularly its maritime connections.
Afterparty wind down
The day ended up with a free festival of DJ’ing at the Bridgwater Arts Centre with the Quayside Afterparty. DJ Dave Chapple, as the Red Shadow, played Jamaican ska and blue beat, DJ Steve Coram’s Global Jukebox played a highly danceable set of ‘World Music’ (leading the dancing himself) and Rod Jones’s Lone Arranger Plunderphonic set masterfully combined sound and moving images.
To keep up to date with plans for Bridgwater Quayside Festival 2018 follow @BQuaysideFest on Facebook and Twitter or visit the website www.bridgwaterquaysidefestival.uk