Monday 27 January 2014

Dance Your Cares Away

If like me you've had enough of the January joyless telling you about their crash diets and gym regimes, can I suggest you steal a march on them all by dancing your cares away and maybe even losing weight in the process?

Word on the net is that Fringe award winners Sensational Salsa and Buxton’s historic Old Hall Hotel, a crucial Fringe venue, are putting the fun back into February with a special Salsa party night on the 7th.
The Latin-themed evening, which will take place in The Old Hall’s plush Restaurant and Lounges on Friday February 7th from 7pm, will feature a glass of Sangria on arrival, a Salsa and Merengue demonstration from experts Linval Smith and Justine Spivey and fish or vegetarian paella to follow. The party-goers will then be invited to join a beginners’ Salsa class and then enjoy some freestyle Salsa dancing until 11pm.
Tickets cost £22.50 all in and are bookable from 01298 22841 or via For further information about salsa classes (running every Tuesday at another key Fringe venue, The Old Clubhouse next to the Opera House), contact Sensational Salsa on 07811 100191 or email

It's great to see dance carrying on all through the year in Buxton but we are often a bit frustrated that our Dance section in July's Fringe programme is so small. One of the issues is that contemporary dance sometimes struggles to find an audience though we've found that if you can get people through the door, they just love it. A few years ago one dance company decided to hold workshops with a local school. They then used the school dancers as a curtain raiser to their own show, thus securing a decent audience of mums and dads and then the students themselves as well as general Fringe goers. We have also had dancers taking to the open skies, whether it is the Belly Dance Flames on Fringe Sunday or the Chapel-en-le-Frith Morris Men who traditionally light up the town with their Day of Dance.

Please spread the word if you know of anyone keen to enter with dance or physical theatre. Schools are particularly welcome with sensitive young dancers moving the audience to tears on some occasions! And we've also had some amazing dancers from abroad in the past including the award-winning Makoto Inoue from Japan. Make no mistake, good things come in small packages and Dance is usually a sparkling jewel in the Fringe's crown.


Friday 17 January 2014

Buxton - The Tuscany of the North

Spent an interesting afternoon yesterday at the launch of the town’s new promotional video and a new national TV ad about the Peak District.

The sunny, two-minute video, including Nick Robinson from the BBC describing Buxton as ‘the Tuscany of the North’, certainly makes the town look exciting and a hint of Military Tattoo plus a closing shot of music on the Pump Room Roof offer a nod towards some of the diverse entertainment offered by the Fringe last year.

We also saw the launch of a new national TV ad aimed at bringing people into the Peak District even when it is not summer! While the closest it got to Buxton was a very deliberately placed bottle of Buxton Water, this was again an inspiring bit of film that made the most of our stunning countryside and even managed to make some of the local trains look quaint.

The town video plus a new Buxton logo designed by the Fringe’s own programme designer, Eric Tilley, have come about in large part thanks to the efforts of Vision Buxton’s Marketing Group, now a year old. Thanks to chairs Liz Mackenzie and Sally Potter for attracting representatives from the town’s major stakeholders in a group that endeavours to make the most of Buxton’s many assets.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

February 1st is Ukulele Day in Buxton

Just had this Press Release - and bang it's out there!

Buxton’s Festivals Join Forces For Ukulele Fun Day

Buxton Festival and Buxton Speech and Drama Festival have joined forces to host a fun day of ukulele workshop in Buxton. On 1st February at Buxton Methodist Church ukulele teacher Phil Doleman will lead fun group workshops for people of all abilities.

Organisers from the two festivals are keen to encourage local people to come together to play this fun instrument.  Novices can attend the beginners’ session at 10am and more experienced players might prefer the intermediates session at 11.30am. Each session is £5 for adults and £2.50 for children and players of all ages are welcome.

Claire Barlow from Buxton Festival comments:

‘If you’ve always wanted to play an instrument now’s your chance. A starter ukulele can be bought in our local music shop for about £20 and after a fun session with Phil, you’ll be able to play several songs on your new instrument. If you’re already a fan of the ukulele then the intermediate session will be a great way for you to play with others and learn some new material.’

Tickets on sale from Muzik and More, Concert Place off Buxton Market or available at the start of each session. For more information contact Claire Barlow on 01298 70395 or For more details on Buxton Festival’s Outreach programme visit

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Every Picture Tells a Story...

We are excited to be holding in our hands the brand new Fringe flyer adorned with artwork from the very talented University of Derby student Helen McIvor.  By Easter we plan to have distributed 20,000 of these, a larger number than ever before, round Buxton and beyond. Our survey last year found out that 25% of our audience had found out about the Fringe through this flyer so it is an important little document.
The flyer is of course the precursor to the biggie, the printed programme, which will come out at the beginning of June, and every year we try to secure the very best image or images to grace the front cover. The successful 2013 cover was arrived at through a competition but for 2014, on the suggestion of Fringe designer Eric Tilley, we tried something a little different, offering a design briefing to third year illustration students at the University of Derby. We were thrilled with the results and had some interesting discussions ‘marking’ each design as to whether it fulfilled a number of aesthetic and other requirements including what did it ‘say’ about the Fringe? We think Helen’s is not only very beautiful, but it puts us in mind of sunny Fringe Sundays whilst also hinting at the variety of the Fringe through the picture frames at the front. There were other designs that impressed us very much too however. We’ve put all the entries up on the website’s gallery pages so see if you think we made the right decision:
You should be hearing more and more about the Fringe in the coming months. We do as much as we can to secure free publicity but have splashed out on two ads – one in a new Festivals leaflet to be produced by the umbrella group Festivity and one in the official Tourist Board’s new Welcome Brochure, print run 150,000! I’m touching wood that we may, as requested, also get at least a visual ‘mention’ in the town’s new promotional video to be launched this Thursday at the Pavilion Gardens!
As marketing officer I’m pleased to be still involved in some of the Fringe’s more creative endeavours and looking at all those cover designs has made me keener than ever to pursue some of my own artistic projects. I don’t seem to have much self-discipline so am grateful to be part of the Burbage Art Group (a regular Fringe entrant) and also the Art Group run by the Opera House. In fact, this lunchtime I’m off to a mosaic workshop by Christine Gray. Email if you want to get on their mailing list to hear about their other art workshops this term. And don’t forget The Green Man Gallery too for another source of inspiring workshops and exhibitions.
We artistic types are very lucky to be living in Buxton, close to the city with attractions such as the Grayson Perry tapestries at Manchester Art Gallery (a free exhibition open to Feb 2) but also far enough away to have our own thriving art scene – with a new generation springing up. Catch the BCS and Thomas More school artwork at Buxton Museum while you can – it closes on Feb 8 and is well worth a look!

Monday 13 January 2014

At The Fringe Margins

The dates of the Fringe are, of course, determined by the dates of the Buxton Festival and for 2014 we have slipped back a week compared with recent Festivals. So - as it says at the head of the Blog - Fringe 2014 runs from 9-27 July.
This means that some other annual events that have been part of recent Fringes won't be in 2014. Most obviously the Buxton Military Tattoo will be a sort of Fringe curtain-raiser (or so we like to think). It takes place on Saturday 5th July inside the University of Derby Dome. There will be two separate performances - at 2.00pm and at 6.30pm. The second performance includes a 'Sunset' ceremony. Anyway tickets are on sale for the biggest show in Buxton.
The programme of events for the Pavilion Gardens Buxton includes many familiar Markets and Fairs. Over 100 events are scheduled for 2014 - including the Fringe Sunday show on July 13th. The Buxton Food and Drink Festival which was a huge success in the Fringe last year is scheduled for Friday 11th July from 4.00pm-11.00pm.
New for 2014 is the Buxton Family Festival from 1-17 August. Not quite sure what that will include but keep looking out for more information.

Friday 10 January 2014

Nerds & Canal Boats

We're always happy to see Fringe performers spreading their wings. Two notable events that might interest you to report.

At Fringe 2012 and 2013 Helen Arney charmed and delighted with her songs, science and storytelling. She is on tour with a couple of mates this spring. For Buxtonians you can catch-up with them in Derby, at the Lowry or in Nottingham. (Also Sheffield and Leeds in you're willing to cross the Pennines). Here's what Helen says: 
Just wanted to let you know I'm heading your way on tour this year, with our new Festival of the Spoken Nerd show - "Full Frontal Nerdity" - yes, we can't resist a geeky pun. 
It's the show we did at the Edinburgh Fringe last year and now we're taking it around the country. It's our biggest, most ambitious tour, and we don't just mean the size of our flame tornado... We electrocute an innocent pickle, smash a glass with just the power of the human voice (plus a heavy duty amplifier) and do things with spreadsheets you've almost certainly never seen before in your life. We've also just realised there are more than 10,000 tickets on sale across 27 venues. If you could help us fill one of those seats with yourself, or even fill a whole row by "Spreading the Nerd" near you, we'd be very grateful.   
There's a full tour schedule with tickets links and facebook events here, and the usual press release blurb below to make it easy to pass on to friends and colleagues. Our good friend Colin Wright has even made a postcode checker so you can find your nearest venue - in full glorious HTML!

At Fringe 2012 one of the top musical performances came from Hat Fitz and Cara - an Australian/Irish duo playing and singing rootsy blues and folk with passion and verve. They are playing at the Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival which runs from 13-15 June. There are many free events and it is a lovely, relaxed weekend. Here's hoping Hat Fitz and Cara are touring and will be in Buxton sometime over the summer.


Thursday 9 January 2014

You may say I'm a dreamer...

As TS Eliot recognised, ‘between the idea and the reality… falls the shadow’ and for would-be Fringe performers there is often a big difference between dreaming up something really exciting to do in July and actually taking all the steps necessary to make that happen.
But before we get all sensible on you and start offering advice, just for a moment imagine a situation where you simply didn’t need to think about budget, health and safety, insurance or sheer logistics!  Fringe Arts Bath has got us thinking this way after announcing their Water Monument touring exhibition which will show selected entries for a fantasy public artwork commission. The idea is to satirise the lack of funding the public and art sectors but also to set creative imaginations free.  With any luck the exhibition will be in Buxton during our Fringe but in the meantime, Fringe Arts Bath is looking for artists to tender for their fantasy public art commission initiated by Nomoneyforart Town Council to celebrate the significance of water to the fictional town. Very apt for Buxton as it happens and, stranger things have happened, maybe it will inspire something real!  Artists are invited to submit a brief outline of their Water Monument idea including sketches plus a CV and examples of recent work by March 16th. Check out for further information.
Too surreal? ‘Vive la difference’ we say but for those of you pursuing your own ideas of putting on a show or event at the Fringe, keep focused and make the most of a wealth of guidance on the Fringe website.  The comprehensive entrants’ info section also includes handy links to Venues (including managed venues) and topics such as How to Grow Your Audience. We know past entrants will have their own tips so do get in touch if there are things you think we should be telling people about.
The entry pricing structure means there are some galvanising Fringe deadlines to work towards – if you want to enter for just £45 you will need to have all your details sorted and to have entered them all online by the end of February. There is no-one to email – you just follow the Fringe website’s online entry procedure with its easy Paypal payment method.  Remember, though changes can be made up until the final deadline, it is so much better for us, the punters and yourselves to get everything right from the outset! If there are gaps in your entry, you are probably better waiting till the next deadline.
We are excited by the entries up there already – keep ‘em coming!

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Strange Music in July

One of the plusses for entrants being organised and submitting details of their Fringe 2014 shows NOW is that they gets lots of potential audience attention in a pretty uncluttered Fringe environment.
As I type we have just 5 confirmed events Fringe 2014 - which is about what we would expect in early January. That means about 160 more events will be confirmed over the next 15 weeks or so and things get quite frantic the closer we get to our deadline.
Anyway, let's draw your attention to the two most recent entries both of which are 'musts' so far as I am concerned. Local trombonist (and increasingly occasional hockey player) Sam has been promising/threatening to do a Fringe show for years. Anyway after a bit of a try out last year in Sheffield he's convinced that he is ready for Buxton. Let's hope that Buxton is ready for him. You can hear Sam (and friends) playing and perhaps singing at the Old Clubhouse on either 15 or 22 July, 7.30-8.30pm. I reckon it will fascinating and fun.
Two years ago (Fringe 2012) a music award went to John Kilpatrick and the Sheffield Lydian Ensemble for their charmingly bonkers (this is 'bonkers' used in an entirely complimentary fashion) show. John has been doing this sort of thing for quite a long time now and says this year might be his swansong. Whether it is or not "Festive Fancies" - Methodist Church, Saturday 26 July 3.00-4.30pm - is likely to be nonsense of the highest order. Playing and singing of quality is assured and John's "Jumblies Suite" (based on the Lear verses) is part of the programme. This is a rare - maybe last - chance to see and hear this. You won't regret being there!