An Update from the Buxton International Festival Office

It’s hard to believe that September is upon us. The leaves are turning brown and the nights are closing in but at the Buxton festival office there are signs of life. We had a wonderful response to our experiment with a digital season. Yes, I know it was no substitute for a live performance or indeed for the experience of attending the festival, but it seemed that many of you appreciated our efforts. The amount of effort that went into delivering the Digital Season when everyone was on furlough was incredible. To our Artistic Director, Adrian Kelly, our Book Director, Vicky Dawson, and Mel Rogerson, and all our participants who helped us turn a disastrous July into something rather unusual, thank you! We are lucky to have such a dedicated and professional team who are always looking for creative ways out of impossible situations.

This year the Buxton International Festival faced its biggest challenge in its 41- year history. A cracking Anniversary festival in 2019 was all credit to the new team, who were excited to improve on that in 2020. A testament to the Festival-that-never-was is the 2020 brochure that we never got the opportunity to bring to life. It is this disappointment that drives us all to ensure that the festival survives this terrible pandemic.

Through the generosity of all those patrons who donated their festival tickets to BIF, the support from Arts Council England, and other donations we have received, we are working on the following projects:

  • Bringing the Salzburg State Theatre’s production of Viva la Diva! to Buxton. (A huge shout out to Longcliffe Quarries who have agreed that we can store the container from Austria at their depot.)
  • Working with the Austrian Cultural Forum to do a launch of the 2021 partnership with the Salzburg State Theatre at their wonderful venue in Knightsbridge, London.
  • Royal Overseas League Club and BIF are planning an event in March with Multi-Story Orchestra, where Kate Whitley will present some of her music from the Opera Oratorio Our Future in Your Hands. (Teaching young people Kate’s music will start in the new year.)
  • The BIF Road Show will take to the countryside in spring next year. We are planning ‘mayhem and magic’ in four venues in Derbyshire, to inspire people to return to live performances and the 2021 Festival.
  • Adrian and Caroline are hard at work booking the artists for the music series and we are pleased to announce that we will be able to present at least 85% of the 2020 season. Our Festival Book Director, Vicky Dawson, has already booked several authors for next year and with the book industry desperate to have a presence we can promise some big names at the festival next year.
  • We are committed to delivering the musical, A Little Night Music, with our partners, the Buxton Opera House, and we are building the sets and props in October which will be stored until we need them in June next year. (Our scenic workshop in Durham will also build the set of La donna del lago this year.)
  • Creating a survey which will help us plan for next year. I would really appreciate it if you could consider the questions carefully and help us to understand your thoughts about how we can get live performances back at the Festival. (We expect to send this out to you at the end of November)

At this strange and uncomfortable time, I have realized that connecting with people is the only way we can get through this pandemic. How ironic then, that ‘social distancing’ requires us to be separated from one another. Be that as it may, we wanted to share with you the work that we are doing in preparation for the festival that we all love so much. There will come a time when we will meet again, and live performances brought to you by the Festival will return to the Buxton Opera House. 

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay inspired.

Michael Williams and the BIF Team


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