The Frome Festival is celebrating national recognition following the election of its Creative Director, Martin Dimery, to the Executive Board of the British Arts and Science Festivals Association, at their recent annual conference. The Association (BAFA) represents, serves and supports nearly 100 arts festivals throughout the UK. These include most of the country’s best known and long established festivals such asEdinburgh,Brighton, Buxton and the BBC Proms.
Dr. Bob Morris, Chairman of the Frome Festival, was approached to nominate a representative, following its recommendation by the prestigious Canterbury Festival. Only nine arts organisations are represented on the BAFA Executive. Dr. Morris was keen to put forward Martin Dimery, who is now in his eighth year as Director:
“This is an enormous vote of confidence” said Dr. Morris, “not only in Martin personally, who has brilliantly organised seven Frome Festivals but also in the outcome of all his inspired and inspiring work, which BAFA has described as “a fantastic example of a largely volunteer-run operation which has achieved considerable scale and success.”
The Festival will celebrate its fifteenth year in 2015. In a recent report to the Frome Town Council, Dr. Morris reiterated that despite being described by consultants as “unsustainable” it has survived and flourished regardless of funding cuts from County and District Councils. A recent survey indicated that most town arts festivals fail to last more than three years. Martin Dimery put the survival of the Frome Festival down to the following:
“Frome is an amazingly creative community. More and more performers, writers and artists seem to be moving to the town, and much of our programme is inspired or promoted by many of these individuals. Before the Frome Festival however, the town was establishing itself as an important regional centre for the arts. In the 1970’s the Merlin Theatre opened at Frome College, creating a great public space for touring theatre and concerts, as well as an inspiring resource for students and local drama groups. Then in the 80’s and 90’s we saw the development of the Black Swan Gallery; the saving of the Memorial Theatre by a voluntary group of trustees, and the foundation of the ECOS Amphitheatre next to the Merlin, with its subsequent festivals. The Cheese and Grain hall was then restored by a town council determined to regenerate the Market Place, and Rook Lane Chapel was finally re-opened as a gallery and performance space. Frome was crying out for a festival that would capitalise on all these great facilities. Since the Festival began, we have seen the addition of privately owned spaces for the arts like the Silk Mill and Cooper Hall, which makes Frome the envy of communities ten times the size. Yet, all of these venues, like the Frome Festival, rely to a large extent on voluntary support. I think Frome is a role model of good practice in the arts despite very limited funding. It is that unique experience I will be taking with me to BAFA meetings and conferences in the future.”
Plans are now under way for the 2015 Frome Festival which will run from Friday 3rd July to Saturday 12th July. www.fromefestival.co.uk