Popular annual Meanwood Festival goes virtual for 2020 due to coronavirus lockdown

Determined organisers of the popular Meanwood Festival have refused to be beaten by the coronavirus pandemic and are taking this year's event online.

By Joanna Wardill
Sunday, 5th July 2020, 6:00 am

The annual festival is usually held at a number of different venues across the north Leeds suburb, with a line-up of performances and activities showcasing the talents of people from in and around the area.

But this year, due to the Covid-19 lockdown, the team at Meanwood Valley Partnership (MVP) has launched a YouTube channel and Facebook page to host the festival - and say they have been 'overwhelmed' with the local community's response so far.

Ron Baker, one of the four organisers, said: "Even in these challenging and unprecedented times, Meanwood remains as talented and resourceful as ever and we didn't want to waste the opportunity to celebrate this. We are overwhelmed by the response."

From the archive: Sara Rushworth and Joe Hogan from Faery Floss serve up candy floss to children at a fun day held during a previous year's Meanwood Festival. Picture: Simon Hulme

Submissions to the festival so far include songs, music, poetry - for young and old, photography and even a two-part story from six-year-old Alice Swales called 'Barbie Goes Camping'.

The videos - most recorded specifically for the festival - include North Leeds Community Singers' (NLCS) 'lockdown special' performance of James Bay's Hold Back The River and Allerton High School year 12 music students virtually performing Keane's Somewhere Only We Know.

Allerton High School's head of music Craig Cockerill, who plays the organ at Meanwood Church, pulled together the video of the students, many of whom went to Meanwood primary schools.

One of his teachers, Kate Mayger said: "The pupils were enthusiastic about being part of the festival. They like doing events - they performed this song at the Meanwood lights switch-on in November. They like getting involved and all just love performing."

Meanwood Festival 2020 has gone online due to the coronavirus pandemic

Kate also leads the NLCS choir who she said were also keen to be involved: "It's a nice project for us all to do and it's a song that we love performing so it made sense to do that."

Festival highlights also include coffee-brewing tips by Andrew Macbean who works at the Barn Coffee Shop at Meanwood Valley Urban Farm and a 'social distancing' photographic exhibit from local photographer Lizzie Coombes.

Lizzie, who has been involved with the festival for a number of years, told the YEP her photo project features images of people in and around Meanwood maintaining their social distance during lockdown.

She said: "I wanted to continue supporting the work the festival does and have made some of the images into a short film to share with the festival for its online version this year."

An image taken by Meanwood photographer Lizzie Coombes for her virtual 'social distancing' exhibition which is part of this year's Meanwood Festival. Picture: Lizzie Coombes

Ron Baker, of MVP, added: “We have more in the pipeline and it’s not too late for people to take part either."

Anyone wanting to contribute can email at [email protected]

To view the festival so far, search 'Meanwood Valley Partnership' on YouTube or click hereor search 'Meanwood Festival 2020' on Facebook.

A message from the Editor:

An image taken by Meanwood photographer Lizzie Coombes for her virtual 'social distancing' exhibition which is part of this year's Meanwood Festival. Picture: Lizzie Coombes

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