The Future 50 campaign aims to raise £1million for the Harrogate International Festivals

Sharon on the far left will face the camera more often than not this year

Sharon on the far left will face the camera more often than not this year - Credit: Archant

Sharon Canavar launches a survival programme in the face of one her most challenging years

This year I hit the big 40 and decided it was time to have a go at getting my health in hand once and for all. Working in events is always a challenge, eating at odd times, eating when stressed, perhaps just the odd drink along the way after a show or at receptions and for most of the month of July living off curly sandwiches and left-over canapés from sponsor receptions!

So I set myself a challenge… fit back into the little black dress from two pregnancies (and a lot of canapés) ago. As well as the usual healthy eating I also signed up to a fitness class called ‘Insanity’.

I thought this was a good idea for a couple of reasons, firstly someone tells you what to do so you’re not just prancing about on the elliptical in the gym trying to find your favourite track to listen to, but more importantly when I used to be up in the middle of the night with my youngest I was a sucker for the fitness infomercial featuring the before and after shots of people that had taken this miracle fitness class and now sported the body beautiful. I need to be clear. This class is a killer. You don’t stop. The chap that runs it puts me in mind of one of my old piano teachers as you get shouted at military style, and the first time I did it, I actually had to leave the class to get some fresh air to stop me keeling over.

But, it’s addictive, and I don’t like to be beaten. I’ve been back several times since and having taken a week to recover from the first session am now going twice a week and considering how I can squeeze in a third class in the midst of an already squashed diary. I’m not quite sure what this tells you about me apart from setting a fairly hefty challenge can be quite a motivation, and this bodes well as we’re on the cusp of launching a significant fundraising campaign to support the future of the Harrogate International Festivals.

The Future 50 campaign has a target to raise £1million over the next two years as we celebrate both our 50th Festival and 50th Anniversary. We know this is a daunting challenge, and there may well be times when we feel like keeling over with the weight of responsibility and the challenge we have set ourselves. However, we have to ensure that the festivals can stand the test of time for the next 50 years.

We are a world-class organisation of festivals supported by programmes of outreach right across the year. This campaign will ensure that in the most challenging of times for funding in the arts, when income is precarious and money can’t always be found for valued programmes that the future of the festivals will be certain. That as an organisation at the heart of Yorkshire we continue to build on our strengths of raising aspirations, creating opportunities and nurturing excellence.

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So whilst, I might not have every confidence that the little black dress will be making an appearance any time soon, I am certain that our Future 50 campaign is vital, and whilst there may be challenges along the way, the need to ensure that this vital organisation thrives in the future will help us achieve our ambitious fundraising goals.

Sharon Canavar is chief executive of Harrogate International Festivals