Good causes set to benefit as Swaffham Visual Arts Festival launches this week

A four-week celebration of the visual arts will aim to raise thousands of pounds for charity when it opens with a Woody Allen film on Friday.

The Swaffham Visual Arts Festival started life as a one-day art exhibition in Mundford village hall 17 years ago, but now has ambitions to become a permanent fixture on Norfolk's annual cultural calendar.

The festival has grown into a series of events including films, lectures, demonstrations and masterclasses, culminating in a three-day art exhibition in the town's Assembly Rooms.

Angel of the North sculptor Antony Gormley has agreed to become festival patron, and organisers hope next year's festival will add more sculpture to its range of disciplines.

Since the first Swaffham Rotary Art Exhibition was held in 1995, patrons have helped raise more than �75,000 for local, national and international charities supported by the Rotary Club, including the Swaffham Wellbeing Group, Strawberry Teas for Senior Citizens and Swaffham and District Mental Health Association.

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Rotary Club president Claire Dunne, said: 'We have to keep a balance. We want to raise money for the worthwhile causes that we support but we also want to make a contribution to the appreciation and understanding of the visual arts in north-west Norfolk serious enough to be worthy of our patron Antony Gormley. We believe that we are getting this balance right.'

Events include a masterclass in photography, a talk by the National Trust's adviser on textile conservation, a presentation on trends in architecture and painting demonstrations.

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Organisers said all events are designed to break even, and any income raised for charity will depend on the quality of exhibitors and the willingness of the public to buy their works.

Tickets for each event, or a season ticket for the festival, are available at Ceres Bookshop, London Street, Swaffham, from local Rotarians or 01760 721115 or follow @swaffvisarts on Twitter or see

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