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2005 Rotherham Arts Festival


If the quality of its arts to a significant extent defines an English town or city, then the emergence of a vital new Arts Festival in Rotherham, just across the M1 motorway from Sheffield, is surely clear evidence of a thriving and imaginative cultural life in the South Yorkshire town. Make no mistake about it, Rotherham is now firmly on the map.

One of the Rotherham Arts Festival's many strengths is that it has roots. There's a real spirit of adventure in the region. The Festival originated with some eighty or so organisations across the Northern borough, who have united to provide a platform that would showcase some of the diverse and varied talents of groups from many of the arts that abound and flourish in the town and region.

Over the past couple of years, since its inception in 2002, Rotherham's burgeoning Festival has grown and developed, and it now includes some thirty events, embracing folk music, art, theatre, jazz, comedy, creative writing and poetry, dance, history, walks and -- of course -- brass bands, a staple of the South Yorkshire cultural scene. Every indication suggests the adventurous Rotherham Arts Festival will henceforth become a major player in Yorkshire's Arts Calendar.

Many of the names in this year's Festival's wider events, coordinated by Artistic Director Sean Rourke, conjure up cheerful and vivid images: Rod Chambers and the Louisiana Joymakers, T J Johnson's Jazz and Blues Band, Bourjois Zoo, Kerfuffle, the Maltby Miners Welfare Band, Three Shires Clog. It's an inclusive event. Many tastes are catered for.

Rotherham Arts Festival, 9-30 September 2005
Rotherham Arts Festival, 9-30 September 2005

But Classical Music will hopefully loom large in Rotherham. One of the Festival's outstanding coups this autumn was to host a prestigious world 'first' in the world of Classical Music: the world début of the newly formed group Ensemble 360, which went on to launch itself just a few days later as the new resident ensemble in nearby Sheffield, in succession to the world famous Lindsays quartet, who made regular appearances there over two decades.

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Copyright © 18 October 2005 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry UK


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