This year we made the decision to expand on our 2016 Arts Week and host a variety of workshops and some live music in addition to the open gardens and art trail. We agonised over names for the event, finally calling it Summer Trifle because so many different things were included in the mix. Jim and I, my brother Tim, my Mum and two of our friends, Clive Hale and Antony Durant, met up to form a Summer Trifle committee and plans were made!
Having been involved with other projects that had benefited from successful bids for funding, we put in an application ( with the help of a very good consultant, Steve Scott) to the Big Lottery Fund in the hope that we could do something quite spectacular. We were awarded the funding and we did something spectacular!
We commissioned artists to create site specific artworks and installations which was very exciting. Visitors to the gardens were able to view the works alongside an exhibition of sculptures by other artists and some installations we created ourselves with the generous help of friends. Two local artists also came along for the duration to be artists in residence, creating work on site inspired by the gardens, and interacting with visitors. In total we had about 1000 visitors through the gates over 15 days.
The variety of workshops and events was wonderful. The more we thought about the event, the more things we wanted to include so we ended up with workshops on art and crafts, writing, music, yoga, five different music events, poetry reading, art history talk and comedy performances.
To round off the festival we had an Art & Craft show which attracted an unexpectedly high number of visitors, considering we were clashing with Airbourne. We found ourselves rushed off our feet serving tea and cakes.
The funding enabled us to keep entrance free to the art and sculpture exhibitions and to the gardens and to commission new art works. We were also able to create maps of the local area showing how to reach the venue (Pickhams) by public transport and via footpaths and cycle routes. Our very first visitors had walked from Polegate and throughout the festival we had a lot of cyclists and walkers visiting, which was fantastic. The costs of advertising and programme print was covered meaning we could get the word out far and wide and we were able to book tutors and performers and included some free workshops and events. Of course we didn’t consider all costs – event insurance was needed as we discovered after our bid that neither my PL Artists insurance nor our house insurance would cover the event and some costs we had already decided to cover from ticket sales such as grounds maintenance, buying chairs and tables and other equipment, electricity costs and decorating the gallery space.
The organising and planning was immensely hard work, rewarded of course by a fantastic event and great support. There was a lot of physically hard work too, preparing the gardens and grounds to not only make them beautiful but safe to visit, with which we had lots of help from neighbours, family and friends. We were taken unawares by exactly how hard we were going to need to work during the event. Every day there was a new challenge and we learned a lot of lessons, the main one being that we cannot do this alone. For the Saturday night music event we had invaluable help from our neighbours setting up, running the bar, selling tickets and on car park duty. We were also loaned crockery, an extra marquee when we realised ours wasn’t big enough for the craft show, a beer barrel stand and a bicycle rack. Next year (yes, this is most definitely happening again) we will need staff or volunteer helpers throughout the event and we need to accept that we are not going to get anything else done during the festival!
We would like to say a huge thank you to the Big Lottery Fund, to all of our friends, neighbours and family who helped, to everyone who exhibited, tutored and took part, all those who came to the workshops and events and to all of the visitors who made it all worthwhile. We also need to thank Mother Nature for smiling on us and bringing some glorious weather and helping our inexpert efforts in the garden. The feedback we had from visitors was wonderful and really encouraging. Summer Trifle 2017 was a success 🙂