Chorlton Arts Festival – volunteering for compulsory fun!

As we embark on the final weekend of the Chorlton Arts Festival, I’ve been reflecting on what makes this festival so special, and why it stands out in my calendar as one not to be missed. Delivering brochures before it even started, it was obvious how united it makes the whole community feel, knitting together (literally – with balls of wool in some cases!) all the different people that make up the village. These delivery routes were taking me to places unknown, up cul-de-sacs and down avenues I never knew even existed, getting lost and then getting my bearings as I pottered about, Postman Pat style – I even met a couple of cats along the way who auditioned for the part of his faithful feline Jess!

In many ways this is true of the festival itself as I explored avenues of culture and art that I had never even thought of before, let alone seen first-hand. How had I missed the joys of Balkan Stomp before? The Rubber Duck Orchestra put paid to that, girding my loins for more volunteering action the following day. At the arts and crafts fair, the stomping rhythms of the night before gave way to the high trill and buoyance of the Levy Uke Up band, as their ukuleles filled St Clements with jolly renditions of California Dreamin’ while I did my best to caffeinate the stall hands with regular tea rounds.

Sunday came and went with no let-up in my cultural pursuits, first helping ferry families around as they took to the trams to help out Charlie keep her job on the interactive theatrical experience ‘The Switchover’. I took part in it myself after I’d finished my duties for the day, clocking up more than 15,000 steps for my ever-hungry FitBit (which I like to think of as my ‘Exercise Tamagotchi’) and by the evening I was ready for my first experience of opera as I made hastily for the Opera Seria production of Don Giovanni – absolutely fantastic!

So if you haven’t taken part in the festival yet, then get a load of what your missing, and see where your travels will take you. There’s one weekend left to celebrate this wonder of the suburbs; this carnival of culture; this call to hearts: The Chorlton Arts Festival – see you there!

Gerard Devney

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