Harrogate International Festivals Future 50 Appeal fundraiser

Duncan Smith, Anna Gerahty, Matthew Osbourne

Duncan Smith, Anna Gerahty, Matthew Osbourne - Credit: Archant

Supporters turned out in force to launch a £1m fundraising appeal to ensure the future of a celebrated arts festival. Sharon Canavar explains Photographs by Andy Bulmer

There’s been a lot of talk in the festival office recently about our Future 50 Appeal and the benefits and opportunities that an involvement in the arts can generate for children and young people. We’re so busy in the office with over 300 events a year that when we stop to take stock, we don’t often stop long enough to celebrate some of the wonderful success stories surrounding our work.

The Musical Mum who now has the confidence to lead a singing session for her peers and their babies, the little boy who has never asked for a book before, the young mum and her baby who now get a good night’s rest as a singing routine has calmed an often chaotic and noisy lifestyle. Then there’s the teenager that changed their studies based on the gory side of forensics at the crime festival, or a Young Musician that became Lesley Garrett, or Julian Lloyd Webber or Ben Grosvenor…

Music, literature and the arts truly do change lives. I know that I had amazing opportunities growing up in Harrogate with this amazing festival right on my doorstep. I had the benefits of seeing BB King, the Halle with Kent Nagano through to Johnny Morris talking to the animals and fantastic world music and street theatre at the fiesta and street theatre festival.

It’s not just about live experiences as an audience member either, getting involved in music has offered some amazing opportunities in my own life from work experience with the Royal Marines Band Service, when I nearly joined up (I was very young!) to touring all over the world with various concert bands. I firmly believe that the Harrogate International Festivals was a significant part of creating these great opportunities in my formative years and it’s these opportunities that we want to ensure are available for all both now and in the long-term future.

That’s why our target of £1m is so important. Our Future 50 Appeal will support live experiences allowing performances and access to artists to be freely available for under 18s, it will ensure we can continue to tour world music and offer free to access music workshops across rural areas. It means that we can continue to create performance platforms for the Julian Lloyd-Webber’s and Ben Grosvenor’s of tomorrow and ensure that international artists perform right here in the North of England.

Opportunities for young people are important. Opportunities for young people in the arts are key to their future. The arts change lives, challenge the norm, create emotion, develop the individual and help them think creatively and I think that’s an opportunity we should all be signing up to. For more information about our Future 50 Appeal please visit harrogateinternationalfestivals.com

Sharon Canavar is chief executive of Harrogate International Festivals

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