Artistic director’s delight at Norfolk and Norwich Festival’s success

The man behind this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival has spoken of his delight at the 16-day event's huge success.

Saturday was the final day of the festival which for just over two weeks saw the city packed full of just about every single type of weird and wonderful visual and performance art imaginable.

William Galinsky, the festival's artistic director, said it was one of the most successful festivals to date, and he also paid tribute to his predecessor's work by saying the success would not have been possible without the amazing work of Jonathan Holloway, the previous artistic director, who put the festival on the map in previous years.

He said: 'It was just an amazing 16 days.

'I think we took the audiences on a real journey through all sorts of different art forms, feelings and emotions.

'It was also an international journey – our audiences travelled the world without having to travel very far at all.

'There has been a feeling of great celebration and the good weather has really helped too, and there is a real feeling that everyone wants more. We cannot wait until next year's festival.'

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He described Saturday's festival finale at Eaton Park as 'absolutely extraordinary.'

The finale saw Wired Aerial Theatre perform As the World Tipped – a breathtaking aerial performance about ecologicial crisis – and the show drew huge crowds.

'The finale was like nothing I had ever seen before. I think the audience was amazed,' Mr Galinsky said.

'It was really special to have the world premiere of a piece of this magnitude here, and it just shows how seriously the artists are taking the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

'It is something we could not have dreamed of doing even two or three years ago in terms of scale and ambition.'

He also explained that the production was co-produced by Without Walls, a network of different arts festivals including Norwich who are committed to working with young artists and helping them reach their potential, and he said this is something the festival would like to continue to build on in the future.

He said he was delighted to see the huge crowds at the free finale, and at the huge following the festival had for all of its free work.

'The free work is very important because it helps us to meet as many people as possible, and it means the festival can reach out to a public it perhaps wasn't reaching five or six years ago. All of the free work – including The Iron Man, May Daze and the Saxophone Massive – were really popular which was great.'

He said there were lots of sold out concerts and events at the festival, and that the Spiegeltent was especially popular.

He said one of his favourite festival moments was watching the Congolese super-band Staff Benda Bilili at the Theatre Royal.

'It was one of the performances that brought in the most diverse crowds, and I think it is great we are bringing all these different people together as a community and we are all celebrating what we have in common,' he said.

Mr Galinsky said he wanted to thank all of the organisations who have sponsored and supported the festival, and he also wanted to thank his festival team, the artists, and the festival audiences who he said were 'brave and really up for trying new ideas.'

Mr Galinsky is now taking a couple of well-earned days off but he will be back at work planning next year's festival on Wednesday.

Looking ahead to the 2012 event, he said: 'We want to bring the Spiegeltent back for the whole festival.

'I would love lots of world music, and I am very keen for us to become a festival that encourages original commissions. I hope we will have more music and visual arts and a lot more street theatre and work outdoors.

'I would like to look more at the relationship between the festival and the landscape of Norfolk and the cityscape of Norwich.'

He added: 'The future is very bright for the festival and for the arts in Norwich.

'This is a very good time for the city. We have got one of the best universities in the country, one of the best football teams in the country, we are one of the best shopping cities, and we have got one of the best arts festivals.

'I think this is really Norwich's time.'

To read Ian Collins' review of the festival and see pictures from his favourite events – see EDP24.

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