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Core team meets to begin to put together Pevensey Arts and Literature Festival 2018

An inaugural meeting was held at the Ocean View Bakery and Restaurant (22 November) in Pevensey Bay of the team that is putting together the jigsaw puzzle that will become the first such festival in Pevensey.

The core team that is beginning to sound out the ideas for the pilot Arts and Literature Festival 2018 looked at a number of possibilities including venues and destinations, as well as the profile for the idea.

The idea is to include five msjor nationally significant arts and literary figures with a key association with the locality in their writing and art.

These writers include Rudyard Kipling and C.S Lewis in the Narnia Chronicles as well as Spike Milligan who wrote the Goon Show in the fifties, which is littered with references to Pevensey Bay.

As a number of members of the team point out, Peter Sellers, also a star of the Goon Show, had a holiday home here in the fifties and was often to be seen in the village.

Bob Wood, son of Ethel Wood, talking to Bay Life in 2015, said that his mother recalled, as the cleaning lady for Peter Sellers, here in Pevensey Bay a conversation.

One day she had turned to his first wife, Anne Howe, around 1952, and said ‘does he always talk like that?”, after hearing Peter Sellers speak in strange silly voices, to which she had answered “just ignore him, he always talks like that”.

How many of those voices in the heard became characters in the Goon Show we will never know.

As many people know in Pevensey Bay, the centre in the name of Ethel Wood now stands in her honour at the gateway to Beachlands in Coast Road..

With art figures, the team point out that Pevensey Bay may be the only village in England with roads named in parallel after two key Pre-Raphaelite figures, Rossetti and Val Prinsep. Val Prinsep, as local people know, lived here in Pevensey Bay.

Already, as part of the investigations. one of the core team, Val Racher, has discovered that in relation to the rich arts and literary legacy of the locality, there is sitting in the Tate Britain archives a sketch of St. Nicolas church spire in Pevensey by JMW Turner, dated around 1808. which may never have been seen as part of public exhibition before.

The team plans to meet regularly in the build up to the pilot festival with news, ideas and plans published on their web platform which will go live in the first week in January 2018.

A spokesman for the technical team commissioned to help profile the pilot festival said, “each person in the team can be contacted through their own unique new email for the festival. This will enable them to talk to potential people that be interested in appearing at the festival and to potential visitors planning to come to Pevensey Bay on behalf of the festival.

“Communications and ideas as they come into the team, will be pooled intranet style within their platform, which should be an exciting way in which ideas can be shaped and shared by the members of the team. The days of labour intensive shared emails with their intricacies are gone.”

“What we hope to be able to show is a way of working within the web platform structure that will be collaborative . At various points, the system will give an opportunity for the team to create collaborative media releases”.

The meeting saw some of the key figures in the locality with a history of the successful organisation of local events come together to listen, initially, to individual ideas.

As well as having the strength and vision of Shirley MacKinnon as part of the core team, the person responsible for the successful five years story of Pevfest, and the three year success of the Pevensey Parish Council Information Day, there were also a number of other key figures present.

Also invited to be part of the team were Val and Christine Racher who together organised the high profile Arts Crafts and Photographs exhibition and event in the village in 2016 and 2017.

Val and Christine emphasised the potential value of local individual book clubs playing a part in the profiling of the event.

Our local arts, heritage and culture events supremo, Jayne Howard, was also present at the meeting to give guidance.

Jayne whose work includes The Eastbourne Airbourne AirShow as well as the first Eastbourne Balloon Festival, was on hand to offer idea and thoughts, drawing from her extensive knowledge of event organisation.

Denise Rowe, who also has a detailed experiential record of work with local events offered key thoughts about the need to see that there was a WOW factor with the pilot event.

Work appears to have started already.

Following the meeting Jayne Howard commented “Good to talk with you and others regarding potential art and literature initiatives. I’ve written a quick SWOT as promised for you to have a look at. It’s based on years of looking at events and assessing their potential success. Happy to meet again”.

The pilot Peveney Arts and Literature Festival is planned to take place 23-26 August 2018.