But this year whilst the Minster may still stand, although it stands empty for the first time in almost a millennium, nearly every festival in the calendar has had to cancel or is soon going to face that tough decision as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc the across the nation.
But not the Beverley Puppet Festival. Faced with the prospect of yet more artists losing their livelihood, the festival’s two directors, Anna Ingleby and Kerrin Tatman, have turned the situation around and are taking a new look and highly innovative festival online and into homes, not just in Beverley and the East Riding, but across the globe.
Now, instead of giant birds and dinosaurs stalking the historic streets of the town while smaller shows for adults and children alike play out in various local venues, 25 puppet companies will be creating videos of puppet-making and puppetry activities that will be made accessible directly to peoples’ homes between the months of May and July.
Founder and artistic co-director, Anna Ingleby, explained the innovative model they plan to employ:
“The festival has always delivered an outstanding live experience to audiences from across the UK and beyond. We knew we couldn’t just throw up our hands and let that go.”
“So we set our minds to creating an alternative plan – to turn what has been a catastrophic event for the performing arts and all the people who work in the industry into a real and tangible positive.”
“There is already a lot of content being delivered online elsewhere, but we believe our model will be truly groundbreaking and serve as a blueprint and an inspiration for many other arts events going forward.”
Now a diverse line-up of puppeteers is already busy creating video activities for their new online audiences, all of which can be completed using simple materials that can easily be sourced from everyday items.
These workshops will be released via the festival website and social media channels with three going online every week for eight weeks starting with the first release on Monday 18 May through to the last workshop on Sunday 12 July, all supported by a new festival app.
All the activities will be free to access, but the festival has set up a link on their website to allow audience members and other supporters to make donations.
Artistic co-director, Kerrin Tatman, who also founded the Moving Parts: Newcastle Puppetry Festival in 2017, explained why this method of fundraising is so important.
“We’ve had to give up all the income we would normally expect from ticket sales and there are still web-based costs to cover so we’ve had to think outside the box as to how we can feasibly deliver a version of the festival whilst also paying the artists and our team.”
“We also want to help our usual partners from the live event who have been hit by the coronavirus shut-down. At the end of the day, it’s about keeping the arts an active part of our community both for the artists and our audience.”
Puppet fans can find more information and access the online workshops via the festival website: www.beverleypuppetfestival.com the dedicated festival app and via social media @bevpuppetfest.