Morley Arts Festival set to return for 2021 with a re-brand and a re-think to make it more accessible for local community

Morley Arts Festival will return for its 16 year following a re-brand which aims to make the event more accessible for the local community.

Sunday, 19th September 2021, 11:34 am

The festival weekender will take place across three days at various locations in Morley Town Centre from Friday 24 to Sunday 26 September.

The three day programme is packed with live street theatre, pop up dance performances, public art workshops, art installations and family activities taking place mainly across Queen Street, Morley Bottoms, Scatcherd Park and Morley Market.

With last year's event being cancelled and a revised digital programme replacing it due to the coronavirus pandemic, the return of the festival comes with a brand new approach that is set to make it more diverse and community led.

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Emma Gannon and Bryony Harris from Plasticagals.

Organisers recently commissioned a 'visionary and development' role to carry out research and consult with adults, children and young people through online surveys, social media engagements, emails and telephone conversations in order to gain a better understanding of what local residents, visitors, business community and art organisations in Morley wanted to see and get involved in.

It was as a result of this that the traditional ‘Festival Fortnight’ was replaced with a different offer and the upcoming three day weekender where all of the events are free.

Rachael Kennedy is the director of the festival as well as the Morley Town Centre manager.

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Tea and Tolerance, the roaming tea trolley that encourages conversation.

"We re-thought the festival, it has been really successful, but we know the majority of people living in Morley don't access it for one reason or another. It became exclusive for a certain audience but we wanted it to be something available to all age groups with lots of different art forms."

Events on the line-up this year includes Million Dollar Mermaids which is dry land synchronised swimming; Tea and Tolerance which is a roaming tea trolley that serves to bring people together through the art of conversation; Plastica Galactica is an audio and walking experience that explores the impacts of plastic pollution; Wandering and Ponderings asks people to get creative and take part in making 100 miniature paintings while Phoenix Dance Theatre, which established in Leeds 40 years ago and is now one of the country's leading contemporary dance companies will also be involved.

The range of events and opportunities to either get involved or simply watch from the sidelines should also make the festival appeal to newcomers and also those who are still anxious about being around large groups of people/

Ms Kennedy added: "There are lot of different opportunities for people to engage with it and join in and if they don't want to, they can just watch and find out if it is for them.

Mermaids from Yorkshire Life Aquatics.

"Morley has always had a huge community spirit and done public events. We have missed them and people want to get back to that. But, we have planned with COVID in mind. The whole programme is on a carousel, we can allow for social distancing and it is comfortable to join in. People can take their time, see everything and plan it but at the same time celebrate the arts in Morley and that community."