Kenilworth Arts Festival 2018
Image: Kenilworth Arts Festival

Kenilworth Arts Festival coming this September

Kenilworth Arts Festival is returning this month for its third year, running from 20 to 29 September. Created by Warwick Postgraduate students, Lewis Smith and Charlotte Thomas, the festival is to be held in various venues around the town of Kenilworth.

A wide variety of acts will be in attendance this year from musicians and novelists to artists and poets. Headlining acts include singer and songwriter S. Carey, novelist Kamila Shamsie, pianist and composer Zoe Rahman and food writer Ruby Tandoh.

A new feature for the festival in 2018, which has been extended from a week to ten days this year, is the “literary weekend”. Two days will be dedicated to talks, readings, discussions and book signings by novelists, short story writers, poets and journalists from across the UK.

Various arts workshops will also take place during the festival including calligraphy by Lindsey Attwood and mosaic by Helen Clues, both of whom are local artists, and a writing workshop by journalist Anita Sethi.

Lewis Smith, the festival’s creative director and current student at Warwick University studying for his PhD in History, commented for The Boar: “This is the third edition of Kenilworth Arts Festival and our 2018 programme is definitely our most ambitious to date, with more than 30 events taking place in different venues around the town over the course of ten days.”

“We’ve got some fantastic musicians, writers and visual artists joining us this year, including four Man Booker Prize nominated novelists, internationally touring bands, a world-renowned pianist and one of the UK’s most renowned nature writers.”

It can sometimes feel like the University is a completely different world, so one of our aims is to try and bridge that gap in some small way

– Lewis Smith, creative director

Along with the festival’s creator’s being students, the University of Warwick also has links with the festival through being one of the sponsors of the event, something it has done since the festival’s creation in 2016.

There will also be students exhibiting work as part of an exhibition of local artists, Lewis told The Boar, as well as talks from past students and current staff such as Sarah Moss, a teacher in the University of Warwick’s Writing Programme, who will be launching her latest novel Ghost Wall at the event.

“Every year we always have a strong cohort of Warwick staff and alumni involved as artists. This year we’ve got Sophie Mackintosh, who’s a graduate of the Warwick Writing Programme, coming to speak about her debut novel, The Water Cure”, Lewis said.

He hopes that the University’s introduction of a Welcome Week, which takes place a week before their studies commence, will mean more students will be around to get involved with the festival.

“Even though geographically there’s so little distance between campus and Kenilworth, it can sometimes feel like the University is a completely different world, so one of our aims is to try and bridge that gap in some small way.”

The artistic director also spoke of how new work is being commissioned at Kenilworth Arts festival this year. For example, a visual artist has been commissioned to produce work which responds to themes in S. Carey’s music and the artwork will be projected onto the walls of the venue during the musician’s performance.

Asked about the future of the festival, Lewis said he would like to see the Kenilworth event “commissioning more new work and supporting brand new collaborations” over the next few years and thinks that “with Coventry City of Culture on the horizon” there will be “lots of potential to grow the festival”.

Further information about the festival, including how to buy tickets, can be found here.

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