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, ongoing enquiry of unknown destination. Yet to leave these books on the shelf 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.


Most recently, funding from Arts Council England, Hastings Borough Council and Sussex Community Foundation has enabled us to increase diversity on our core team and delivery teams. SECCADS funding catalysed our mentoring programme further increasing diversity on our team.


Practitioners of ExploreTheArch Theatre Company
ATownExploresABook Community Fundraising Committee

with partners
Active Arts, Hastings and Bexhill Mencap
Bavard Bar
Cabaret Mechanical Theatre
Contemporary Music School
Education Futures Trust
Hastings Borough Council
The Gap Project. Ore-Valley
Hastings Community of Sanctuary/The Buddy Project
Hastings Supports Refugees
Hastings Thrives
Isolation Station Hastings
Open Door, Hastings and Bexhill Mencap
Seaview Project
Southeastern Rail at St Leonards Warrior Square Station
Teddy Tinker’s Vintage and Antiques
Transition Town Hastings
Writing For Wellbeing
Zoom Arts

Bexhill College
Christchurch CE Primary Academy
Dudley Infant Academy
St Paul's C E Academy
Robsack Wood Primary Academy
St Richard’s Catholic College
The St Leonards 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.


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