For longer than I can remember (26 years in fact) September in Tenby has meant one thing: – the Arts Festival, a weeklong celebration of music, drama and literature. This year’s festival (23th to 30th September) features among many performances a Brass Ensemble, Tenby Male Choir, Goodwick Brass Band, and a celebration of the life and work of Dylan Thomas.
Founded in 1992, the roots of today’s festival can be found in an earlier Tenby Arts Festival organised by Greenhill Further Education Centre in the late 1970s. Although on a smaller scale than today’s festival the line up for the second festival in 1979 was equally impressive – The Tenby and District Brass Band, Tenby Male Choir, Pembrokeshire Youth Orchestra, The National Youth Jazz Orchestra and The Tenby Players performing Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. The main difference between the 1970s festivals and today’s is the number of events. In the 1970s each day of the week long festival featured only one performance. Today’s festival features three or more events every day enabling a much wider choice to be available.
This year’s festival can truly be said to feature something for everyone ranging from Children’s events to pint sized plays to educational and entertaining talks to classical music performances. Both old and current festivals have a number of things in common. They were both organised by a committee of local residents and both featured local talent. This year’s festival for example features Pembrokeshire’s Samba Band ‘Samba Doc’ along with talks by local artist Guy Manning and newsreader Jamie Owen who was born and raised in Pembroke Dock. Local boy, television producer and author of several books, Greg Lewis, is giving what promises to be a fascinating talk about women secret agents during the second world war. His brother Mark Lewis has written ‘For as Long as Forever Is’, a celebration of the life and work of Dylan Thomas, that will be read by an enthusiastic team of Dylan fans. Well known artist and teacher Graham Hadlow will be demonstrating watercolour techniques and two Tenby authors, Nicky Lloyd and Lance Russell, will be serving up ‘An Evening of Mindless Drivel’! The amount of local talent on show at the festival is amazing to see and will hopefully encourage other local people to pursue careers in the arts.
Tenby Arts Festival is only the first of Tenby’s upcoming festivals. In the coming months we have the Blues Festival and the Beer Festival to look forward to. Long may they all thrive!