Festival to celebrate Jane Austen and home-grown talent

19th January 2017

‘Born in the borough’ has been announced as the theme of the sixth Basingstoke Festival, which is set to be the best yet.

Attracting international artists and big name acts to perform in the borough is part of the planning work now underway for the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council-run festival from Friday 16 June to Sunday 9 July.

But there will be a special reason for the festival to focus on local talent too, as July marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen who was born in the borough at Steventon. Events and performances will be held through the festival to celebrate the world-renowned 19th century author, who drafted some of her best known works while living in this area.

Keeping this ‘home-grown’ focus, festival organisers are keen to ensure that as many areas as possible host a ‘Festival in the Community’ local event, especially helping to bring arts and performances to underused places around the borough.

Basingstoke Festival has grown in popularity and size since it started in 2012. Last year the festival featured more than 140 community events, such as plays and food festivals, complementing the main programme of world class events and experiences.

The borough council’s Deputy Leader, who is responsible for art and culture, Cllr Terri Reid said: “On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, it is only right that the 2017 Basingstoke Festival, held in the borough where she was born, should highlight how her work still entertains and inspires people today. Special new pieces are being commissioned specially for the festival showing the continuing relevance of the themes in Jane’s writing.

“And the ‘born in the borough’ theme gives us the opportunity to focus on the wealth of other talent we have here today, from local bands in Basingstoke Live to our young people being given the chance to perform on the Haymarket stage.

“Basingstoke Festival is becoming known as an diverse showcase of arts and performances, attracting world-renowned acts to perform and mixing this with celebrating work created on our doorstep by local people. We really hope groups across the borough will get involved again too, bringing music, arts and culture to their areas by hosting a Festival in the Community event.”

The 2016 Festival featured everything from a sacred masked dance by Tibetan monks, a celebration of female authors and a NASA-film backing Holst’s Planet Suite performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to an audio journey in a boat in Eastrop Park created by local artist Ben Mills and the Hanover Band performing a Handel masterpiece alongside Basingstoke Choral Society.

To find out more about holding a Festival in the Community event, contact Ross Harvie on festival@basingstoke.gov.uk or call Ross on 01256 845676 before April 21.

To keep up to date with the latest news from Basingstoke Festival 2017 follow @BstokeFestival on Twitter and Instagram or like ‘Basingstoke Festival’ on Facebook (facebook.com/basingstokefestival)

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