GALLERY: Looking back at Festival of Chichester

After four weeks and scores of events, the very first Festival of Chichester came to a conclusion at the weekend, maintaining to the last the high quality which has been at its heart from the start.

The committee behind the event is now looking to build on the success for next year. The festival will be back, and after this year’s outstanding debut, the committee is determined to listen to what you want for 2014. Members of the committee give their own verdicts here. But they want your views too as they plan for the future.

Nick Moran and Clare Moody rehearsing for Love Games  - PICTURE BY DENNIS LOW

Nick Moran and Clare Moody rehearsing for Love Games - PICTURE BY DENNIS LOW

- Festival of Chichester co-ordinator Barry Smith:

I think the great achievement of the Festival is that it happened at all. Last autumn it looked as if Chichester had lost its renowned and much-loved Festivities for good and that without big sponsorship and financial support there could be no prospect of a replacement. Yet here we are now, with more than 200 fantastic events having taken place all over the city and beyond in a month-long explosion of artistic creativity. It has become a festival the city can take pride in again – and hopefully look forward to each summer for the years to come.

Where do we go from here? Firstly we must appreciate the collaborative efforts of Chichester Cathedral staff, the Library service, the Chichester Observer and representatives of the arts community. It is this special blend of experience, enthusiasm and expertise that has set down the template and the foundations for the future. Then we must consolidate what we have built so it runs more efficiently and effectively. We must hope we have won the trust of the local business community through our efforts so that support will be forthcoming for 2014 and beyond. But above all, we must cherish the blend of the artistic expression of talented local performers and organisations alongside the very best of the imaginative arts from star performers on the national scene. Chichester deserves no less.

- Former mayor of Chichester Anne Scicluna:

Overall I think the Festival was beyond all our initial dreams when we got our committee together some eight months ago. With no actual committee budget, but with the tremendous goodwill, talent and expertise that we have in Chichester, more than 200 events have taken place in the past four weeks. Local people and visitors have been treated to a marvellous demonstration of what Chichester and its people can achieve, and have enjoyed a great variety of culture and fun. Of course, there are lessons to be learned for next year – and I believe there will be a next year, and one after that, and after that... but the committee will discuss, develop and fine-tune from this year’s experiences.

I really must give special thanks to our voluntary coordinator, Barry Smith, for working tirelessly and with great good humour, pulling it all together – a tremendous job. And to all the members of the small committee, chaired by Phil Hewitt, which set the ball rolling, and to the Chichester Observer for its fantastic support.

- Theatre director Roger Redfarn:

The memory I will have of the first Festival of Chichester is the opportunity it has given to young people to showcase their talents. I have seen many productions in the festival and the work of young musicians, singers, dancers and actors has shone through. My hope for the future is to build artistic standards and to involve more members of the community in the glory of performance.

- Community librarian Felicity Masters:

I think the very first Festival of Chichester has been fantastic. It has had more events than we could have hoped for when planning it and a huge range, with something for everyone and lots happening every day. What has been really great is that so many local people have been involved in planning, hosting and performing in various events. It has given the festival a real community feel, and I hope that is something we can build on next year.

- Festival chairman Phil Hewitt:

The Festival of Chichester has been a fantastic success, matching and maybe even creating a mood in which great things are happening. England beat the Aussies on the last day of the Festival; Murray won Wimbledon; and the Stones rocked Hyde Park in the middle of it all. Okay, so none of these events have anything to do with the Festival of Chichester, but the past few weeks have been like a dream coming true every single day – superb events in Chichester echoing great events elsewhere. It has been a party, a blast, a fabulous time for everyone.

But I know we haven’t got everything right, and our task as a committee is to learn from our experiences this year. We have worked superbly well together as a committee, and our job now – as we plan for next year – is to look closely at what we have achieved this year. So please let us know what you thought. What do you want more of? What do you want less of? We need to know. What should we be doing differently? How can we make a good thing even better? Please let me know. Email me on

All your comments will be taken on board when we get together in September to mull it all over. Once we’ve talked it all through, we will announce the date for a public meeting to set the ball rolling for next year.