And it’s goodbye to 2020…

As 2020 comes to a close, we want to take the opportunity to say thank you to our wonderful community. You have been a shining light for us during this challenging year. Time and time again, we’ve been inspired by acts of kindness that have been shown to others and we have been motivated by the support you’ve given us through messages, donations and participation.

Here’s a quick reflection on what we’ve been up to in 2020 and some things to look forward to from Bath Festivals in 2021:

🙏 Back Bath Festivals – a vital fundraising campaign
When the Coronavirus pandemic took hold at the start of the year, we unfortunately had no choice but to cancel or postpone a majority of events planned for 2020. The impact of reduced ticket sales, sponsorship and public funding meant that we needed your help to ensure that Bath Festivals survived. Wow, you sure did deliver! Our fundraising campaign #BackBathFestivals raised a total of £50,000 including over £17,000 donated through Crowdfunder. Highlights included regular virtual, fundraising quizzes, which featured live performances from Midge Ure and Isobel Holly. If you were able to donate funds, a reward, took part in a quiz or helped us spread the word, THANK YOU. Your support really does mean the world to us.  Huge thanks also to Arts Council England for supporting us through the Culture Recovery Fund.

⭐ Reading is Magic Festival – a free digital festival for schools and families across the world
We were saddened by the cancellation of our Bath Children’s Literature Festival and for all the children’s book festivals cancelled during 2020. We love how each year Bath comes alive with children’s authors and illustrators from far and wide and were particularly disappointed that the thousands of school children who come to the festival that would miss out! So, we decided if they could not come to us, we would create a festival that could come to them. Just like a story our ideas grew, and we decided to go digital to allow everyone to join in the festival fun. The Reading is Magic Festival was a collaboration of book festivals from the UK and internationally to put on an amazing schools and family programme, all free and available for everyone, everywhere. The festival week in the autumn was joyful, filled with inspiration, laughter, education and fun! The events are still available to watch for free online (until 31 December 2020) and so far we are set to reach 150,000 children by the end of the year! Watch here

🧒 Creative Learning
We started the year with the 2nd cohort of young people from our Young Producers project, working together to produce an event for The Bath Festival. Sadly we were unable to hold our planned event but are now working digitally with some of the young people on new creative challenges and their Bronze Arts Award. We worked with the egg theatre, House of Imagination, Holburne Museum and Bath Spa University as part of Bath Cultural Education Partnership on a brand new project called UnBoxed, bringing quality creative experiences direct to families and young people in B&NES.  Finally, we were awarded a grant from Youth Music to deliver a 2 year project called Routes Through Music providing music making activity to young people facing challenges in B&NES, and improving pathways and progression routes so they can continue to grow and develop as musicians. More news on this soon.

📺 The Big Book Weekend
We were thrilled to present an event at The Big Book Weekend, a three-day virtual festival that brought together the best of events from various cancelled spring arts festivals in the UK, produced in association with BBC Arts and Arts Council England. Our fantastic Big Book Weekend event (which was due to take place in May) was Ray Bradbury at 100 with Neil Gaiman and Sam Weller. It was an engaging, inspiring conversation and you can catch up here

🏛 We’ve moved – Bath Festivals offices are now in The Forum
This year more than ever, the spirit of collaboration has been key to our success. We believe that by working closely with others in our community, our festivals will be stronger, more vibrant and more representative of all of us. With this is mind, we were pleased to announce earlier this month that we have found a new home at Bath’s largest entertainment venue, The Forum. Ian Stockley, chief executive of Bath Festivals, said: “Our move into The Forum is a hugely exciting next step as we grow the value of the arts in the community, increasing accessibility for all.  We are excited about partnering with The Forum to create a visible cultural hub for the city and surrounding area with a dynamic that promotes the positive impact that the arts can have on people’s lives.”

Looking ahead to 2021

As we approach a New Year, the Bath Festivals team are working hard to deliver a programme of events that bring joy and inspiration in 2021. While the future is still uncertain, we are optimistic that together we can continue to celebrate the positive power of music, words, books and performance. Here are a few things to start looking forward to:

📅 Save the date:
The Bath Festival and Bath Children’s Literature Festival 2021
Bath Children’s Literature Festival will return in 2021 with a vibrant programme of authors and illustrators from 24 September to 3 October. The Bath Festival will be back from 14 to 23 May 2021 to celebrate the best in music and books in our beautiful city.

🎸 The Bath Festival Finale Weekend 2021
McFly, UB40 ft Ali Campbell and Astro, Scouting For Girls, Billy Ocean, KT Tunstall, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and so many more chart-topping and rising stars are coming to Bath Rec for a live open air party over the Bank Holiday weekend of 29 and 30 May 2021. This family-friendly festival will also feature artisan food, roaming entertainment and kids activities. Tickets are on sale now here.

🧒 Creative Learning in 2021
We will be starting delivery of our Routes through Music project, working with Youth Connect South West, Mentoring Plus, B&NES Music Hub and Bath College. We’ll be continuing to work with our partners getting more UnBoxed boxes into the community and with our brilliant Young Producers.

That’s all from us for now. From everyone at Bath Festivals, we wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas! Stay safe, take care and we look forward to seeing you in 2021!

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