New arts festival set for July launch

Newent will host an arts festival next month with involvement across the whole community.

The idea of a bi-annual arts festival is part of the Newent Initiative, the original plan being to hold the first one in 2004.

But community enthusiasm has brought the date forward, and the festival will be launched on July 12 this year, to coincide with the Dancing in the Dean festival.

Art exhibitions will be mounted in venues including St Mary's Church, the Market Hall and empty shops.

The Newent Chamber of Commerce is supporting the festival and will play a key role in the use of empty premises, as well as the involvement of thriving businesses.

In addition to visual arts displays, there will be performing arts and music in town, although details are still to be finalised.

The regulars of the Sheppard House Day Centre will be asked to get involved, and the younger generation will be represented with work from local primary schools and the Newent Community School, which has official arts college status.

Alan Naylor, art teacher at school, said: "This will be a real showcase for what the students have been doing this year."

The mayor of Newent, Coun Fred Passant, said: "It's coming to fruition. Everyone's helping. This will help to put Newent more on the map."