What happens when a community explores its literary heritage?


  • We value all voices in our town, especially voices not heard in other literary platforms.
  • We bring inter-community literary conversations on to the street inhabiting every day, accessible nooks and crannies in the town.
  • We explore together what place heritage literature has in contemporary life.
  • We welcome visitors to our town to explore a text with the community and invite new readers of all generations to a heritage book.


In our busy world, it is hard to find time for a heritage text, exploring it in a searching, unfurling, ongoing enquiry of unknown destination. Yet to leave these books on the shelf and not embark on an expansive earnest 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 creative director, Gail Borrow, was inspired to explore our heritage writing with all members of a community, turning the volume up on voices not commonly listened to in literary festivals.

The resulting multi-site festival of community creative responses was developed by dynamic community art team Emma Harding and Erica Smith working with artists Susan Miller and Peter Quinnell. All are passionate about the power and reach of outdoor art in every day places and keen to develop interactive engagement in art to new national standards.

Together with St Leonards on Sea’s vibrant creative businesses offering window displays, themed menus, cafe write-ins and events, a whole town creates an environment every school Easter holiday in which everyone’s thoughts and wisdoms, emanating from a collaborative exploration of one book, can be shared and valued. It is the most inspiring place in which to take ownership of heritage literature which belongs to everyone.


Practitioners of ExploreTheArch Theatre Company
ATEAB Funds Community Fundraising Committee

with partners
Active Arts, Hastings and Bexhill Mencap
Arts on Prescription
Bavard Bar
Contemporary Music School
Electro Studios Project Space
Hastings Borough Council
Hastings Museum and Art Gallery
The Arts Society Rother Valley
Hastings Supports Refugees
Isolation Station Hastings
Open Door, Hastings and Bexhill Mencap
Seaview Project
Southwater Area Community Centre
Southeastern Rail at St Leonards Warrior Square Station
Teddy Tinker’s Vintage and Antiques

Ashmole Primary School
Christchurch CE Primary Academy
Dudley Infant Academy
St Paul’s C E Academy
Hastings Academy 
Herbert Morrison Primary School 
Icklesham CE Primary School
Robsack Wood Primary Academy
The St Leonards Academy 
West St Leonards Primary Academy

Paula Radice – Enjoycation 
Rosie Godwin – Fledge 
Beshlie-ann Carver-Carpenter: Hastings HEDGE 
Liz Calouri – Hastings Young Writers

Plus 30 independent local businesses including eateries Dandelion Deli, Remy’s Café Kulinaria, Mamma Putts, Sea Kale Café, Sugarpie Honeybuns Café, Tommy’s Pizzeria and creative business The Bookkeeper Bookshop, Calneva, Caroline Morris Millinery, Kings Road Antiques, La Marette Brocante, Little Mashers, Paisley and Friends, Pass Muster Trading, Pelhams Fine Furniture and Ceramics, Seaside Paws, Stella Dore Gallery, Tails of St Leonards, Who’s Wearing What and Wonderfill.


We are growing all the time!
This festival is organised and run by ExploreTheArch Theatre Company Limited.

© ExploreTheArch Ltd registered company 10963140