Norfolk and Norwich Festival director prepares to bid farewell after seven years at the helm
- Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017
During his seven years in Norfolk William Galinsky has brought everything from a Dinosaur Petting Zoo to a hotel of quirky treehouses to a huge inflatable moon to our city and county in his role as artistic director of Norfolk and Norwich Festival.
But as this year's arts extravaganza draws to a close this weekend he is preparing to bid farewell to the role he has previously said made him feel like Willy Wonka.
When asked how he felt about his final days with the festival, he said: 'Happy, sad, exhausted, ready for the next adventure. It's like when the circus leaves town, you pack your bags, say thank you very much.
'It's been a great honour, it's been a great time here, but it's time to move on. It's like the Galinsky Circus leaves town.'
He said he was really pleased to see so many people out and about enjoying this year's festival programme.
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'The highlights from this year's festival for me have been the Museum of the Moon, I loved the work we did with Total Ensemble Theatre Company under the moon. It was really, really lovely to be working with TETC. I think they are really wonderful, talented and unique.
'I loved VR Playground, The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight. I really enjoyed Naturally 7, and it was great to have Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson here.
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'I think one of the real high points was the Voice Project's The Arms of Sleep. It is an absolute breakthrough project for them. It's just extraordinary...It's a very unusual experience and it's something that has not been done before.'
Mr Galinsky is also keen to stress that as much as the festival is about events it is also about people, and he said he was proud of how the festival team had developed over the last seven years and of the groups of extraordinary volunteers who join them each May.
'We've got an amazing team of people...that feels like almost the most important thing, because you could not have done what we have done without them,' he said.
Looking back at festivals past, Mr Galinsky has a tough time picking out just a few highlights.
'There was Air Hotel, the treehouse hotel, It's Happening In Norwich and those wonderful films on Elm Hill, The People's Tower I thought was absolutely glorious, and Dinosaur Petting Zoo was one of the most popular shows we ever did - 14,000 people saw it.
'I love all the participation things we have done, making work with ordinary people, like 100pc Norfolk, and also Wild Life which will have a future life in London and on tour.'
Last year, as well as being the festival's artistic director Mr Galinsky was also the director of one of the shows - The Tempest at the Hippodrome in Great Yarmouth.
'It was a great big adventure, we learned an awful lot. With any piece of work that you make you are going to be hyper critical of it...but it was a fun experience, a real fun experience and 4,500 people saw it,' he said.
'I think that was a big risk - can you do Shakespeare in Great Yarmouth? The answer is absolutely you can! Sometimes there's a lot of talk of people saying the festival is elitist, we hear it a lot...I say that there's nothing elitist about it. In Great Yarmouth people went to see The Tempest because we made an imaginative response to it and I think people mustn't underestimate audiences.'
Recruitment for Mr Galinsky's replacement will start this summer, and when asked if he had any words of wisdom for his successor, he said: 'Have fun. 'It's a festival which a lot of people have a stake in and it's got to satisfy and speak to lots of different audiences, but go with your heart, go with ideas that you believe in.'
Mr Galinsky said he was 'leaving a tidy desk' for his successor with most of the plans for the 2018 festival already in place.
'There are going to be some wonderful, wonderful things...It's all very exciting and it's sad to leave it of course, but it's good to leave while you are still having fun but also while people aren't sick of what you are doing!' said Mr Galinsky.
'It feels like it's a good time to leave on a high. I'm taking a bit of a sabbatical, thinking about what I'm going to do next, and the family's moving back to East London.'
But for now there are two more days of Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2017 to enjoy, with a packed City of Literature programme by day, a fun-filled time in the Adnams Spiegeltent by night, and lots more besides.
The festival runs until Sunday. Visit www.nnfestival.org.uk