As the arts sector opens up, Harrogate International Festivals welcomes key ministerial visit

Harrogate International Festivals was delighted to welcome Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay to Harrogate to discuss the current state of the arts following the pandemic.

Lord Parkinson met Fiona Movley and Sharon Canavar, Chair and CE of the Festivals for a discussion covering the festivals landscape nationally, equality and accessibility, and the recovery of arts organisations post-pandemic.

Chair Fiona Movley said: ‘The visit was a timely opportunity to share our strategic plans for the future and the challenges that festivals and arts organisations have faced over the last two years.’

The Arts Minister spent time enjoying the Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival, part of the portfolio of events produced by Harrogate International Festivals, and recognised by Harper’s Bazaar as ‘one of the UK’s best literary festivals’. He also visited the Harrogate 1571 soundscape produced by the Festivals for the 450th anniversary of the discovery of the spa waters and attended an event as part of the programme with authors Professor Richard J Aldrich and Professor Rory Cormac.

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson said:

I was delighted to visit Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival and to see so many people enjoying thought-provoking and entertaining talks – in person – from a range of brilliant writers and speakers. It was also a great opportunity to hear about how the Government’s support through the Culture Recovery Fund has helped to support much-valued events and organisations such as this, and what more we can do to help them bounce back from the pandemic and continue to flourish.

CE Sharon Canavar said:

‘It was an honour to welcome Lord Parkinson to Harrogate to discuss the difference that the recent Culture Recovery Fund has made to organisations such as ours. It is important that the cultural and economic value of festivals across the UK and that their agility to create exciting programmes and vibrant destinations post pandemic are recognised. It is key that their location, lack of building and seasonal delivery does not detract from their significance in the cultural landscape.’

The Festivals believe that as we come out of the pandemic our reliance on audiences and ticket buyers is more important to our survival than ever, and we need to ensure we create confidence and a safe environment to enjoy events.

Harrogate Internationals Festivals established in 1966 is a year-round arts organisations producing festivals and events that radically transform the cultural landscape within Harrogate and the north, notably the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and producing large outdoor spectacle, The Festivals have been noted to be one of the first arts organisations to produce a free to access digital platform in April 2020 showcasing a range of work and providing employment for artists during the pandemic, which charted regularly in the podcast charts.