May 2007 saw the annual burst of cultural activity for our very own Dulwich Festival. Once again, local residents planned, prepared and many more participated in this ten-day long leap into the arts. It was all made possible through the generous donation of time by many and the much-needed sponsorship of a select group of supportive local businesses.
This year the core team was joined by new local residents who worked tirelessly behind the scenes on event management, sponsorship and publicity. Excitement began to mount just after Easter when the new programme was published with
a beautiful design provided by local graphic designer, Sue Arkell. It is at this point that the unseen army of Dulwich volunteers swings into action. All across the area individuals on bicycles, dedicated dog-walkers and Mums' out with laden prams take on the enormous task of delivering around 30,000 leaflets door-to-door! This is what makes the Dulwich Festival. We aim to ensure that each road in the Dulwich area is covered; this way all residents have the opportunity to join in the various events, many of which are free.
This year's festival opened with the now annual debate at the Dulwich Picture Gallery which examined the food industry. Amongst the distinguished panel of experts was Patrick Holden, Director of the Soil Association. Patrick is a former Head Boy of Dulwich Hamlet Junior School and an Alleyn Old Boy. This was his first visit back to Dulwich in over 40 years; he took an emotional journey back through the area in which he used to cycle as a boy and ended the evening by wooing the debate audience with his advocacy of organic food and farming.
The festival saw its wonderfully successful Open House Art event grow again this year with over 90 artists exhibiting their work in homes and studios throughout Dulwich. Other highlights included a stunning London premier of a new children's concert 'Red Riding Hood' with the acclaimed Gaudier Ensemble, a fascinating exploration of the world of mathematics with local author Rob Eastaway, some splendid contributions from the world of theatre and a whole host of dance events to tickle the toes. Matters became particularly steamy at the Salsa night at the Thomas More Hall!
The Dulwich Festival was also host to a rare date on the Swingle Singers' world tour, their next UK date after wowing the crowd at The Great Hall, Dulwich College being at the BBC Proms!
Innovations seen this year included a new online ticketing facility provided by local computer company Elrond, a welcome return for a comedy night with acclaimed comedian Robin Ince hosted at the Dulwich Hamlet Football Club and an engaging new element entitled 'Dulwich Festival Bookcrossing' whereby 20 books by authors involved in the festival were released into the community with a bold message emblazoned upon them instructing those lucky enough to find them to Read Me! Readers are then encouraged to note their review on the festival web-site before leaving the book to be found somewhere else. We can report exclusively that one book has made it as far as Lincolnshire! The festival was also able to produce a greater number of children's events this year due to funding from the Dulwich Community Council.
Two fantastic fairs took place in the festival. The delightful Festival Fair took place on Goose Green and was heaving with residents in spite of the inclement weather. The festival closed with the wonderful Green Fair which took place in Dulwich Park. This was a joint initiative with Southwark Council, the Friends of Dulwich Park, the Dulwich Festival and Dulwich Going Greener. A day full of ideas for a greener life was followed by a great evening of music and dance.
Alpha Hopkins - Co-Director, Dulwich Festival