A reader-led festival of creative responses to a heritage book delivered by ExploreTheArch theatre company
What happens when a community explores its literary heritage?
In our busy world, it is hard to find time for a heritage text, exploring it in a searching, unfurling enquiry of unknown destination. Yet to leave these books on the shelf and not embark on an expansive journey, discovering their place in our contemporary world, means that we miss out on a vital insight into our past, facilitating understanding of where we, our society and our shared values have come from and where we are heading to.
In creating ATownExploresABook in 2017, festival artistic director, Gail Borrow, was inspired to explore British heritage writing with all members of a community in the school spring holiday, turning the volume up on voices not commonly foregrounded in literary festivals. The resulting multi-site festival of creative responses was developed by artists in the St Leonards-on-Sea community through interactive and accessible community art projects.
The festival’s community organisations are passionate about the power and reach of art in everyday places. Together with St Leonards-on-Sea’s vibrant creative businesses offering window displays and events, a whole town has created an environment in which everyone’s thoughts and wisdoms can be shared and valued. Fifteen #ATownExploresABook schools ensure that over 3000 children now take part in a festival project and the writing competition.
St Leonards-on-Sea is the most inspiring place in which to take ownership of heritage literature.