Louise Blackwell tells us all about the Right Here festival, a festival celebrating the creativity of Crawley, running online on 29-30 January 2021.
Tell us what Right Here festival is
The festival celebrates creativity and creative people in Crawley since March 2020. It showcases the way people in Crawley have used creativity to help them through the lockdowns and includes four new commissions by local artists and a range of workshops and events. It takes place online and in your own spaces and places. From virtual choirs to spoken word poetry, singing and writing workshops to the special Festival Finale event I hope there is something of interest for everyone over the two days.
It’s been created for Crawley, can people outside of Crawley enjoy it too? What events would you recommend to them?
It’s been created by people in Crawley but most of the programme is accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world as it’s online. There are events to watch, participate in and experience as part of your everyday lives. There are over 20 events and so it’s of course hard to pick just a few to recommend. I’m really looking forward to the live interviews with three professional creatives in Crawley who all work in different areas of live performance. You can hear from Crawley born and bred actor Grace Saif (Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why) emerging Drag Artist Seb Livingstone and the Co-founder of The Posh Club Annie Bowden.
I’d also recommend listening to the series of soundscape podcasts that have been made by local Crawley residents and artists Sinead Emery and Quiet Boy. They’ll be downloadable from our website and also available on various podcast platforms. They are called People’s Pathways and are short (5 – 10 minute) audio pieces that you can listen to on your daily walk. They are rooted in Crawley but will take our imagination to all sorts of places around the world. I’ve just been listening to the first edits of them and they are really special meditative nuggets about the time we find ourselves in and how important walking has been to people.
You’ve curated the festival – is there something in it that surprised you?
I have had an amazing insight into the wealth and variety of creative talent in Crawley. Once the word started getting out about the festival and the kinds of activities and people that are part of it, I’ve probably had an email a day from different people telling me about their creative lives and work. One thing I wasn’t expecting was discovering a 90 year old man called Peter via the Extra Time Hubs project at Crawley Town Community Foundation, who has painted a watercolour each day since the beginning of the first lockdown and who leaves them out for his neighbours to take for free at the end of each week.
How have you coped with the most recent lockdown?
I’m finding this lockdown tougher than the others. I think the adrenalin that got me through the first one has gone and I’m tired. My kids are 11 and 14 years old and it’s tough for them too. We just want to be able to socialise again with our friends and family in person. That time will come though and we are holding on to that thought and making sure we stay at home right now. Working on this festival has been a great driver for us all during this most recent lockdown – I’m getting the whole family involved in helping me make it happen!
Will this be an annual event? What’s next for Creative Crawley?
This is just the beginning for Creative Crawley. We’re building new partnerships and finding ways to continue to ensure creativity is at the heart of the town’s recovery. This festival is just a taster of what’s possible. We’re planning a year round programme of work that involves performance, art, music, dance and all sorts of other artforms. The programme will be about live events but also workshops and other participatory projects that people can get involved in. The Right Here festival is about celebrating this moment in time so who knows if it will happen again. Maybe next year we’ll need a different kind of festival. I’d better start raising some money to make it all possible!
Louise Blackwell is the curator of Right Here festival, a festival celebrating the creativity of Crawley. It runs online on 29th & 30th January. For full details of the programme visit https://creativecrawley.com/