Barnaby 2020-21: Introduction to the Activity Report

A message from the Barnaby Festival organisers

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique but universal set of challenges for our plans for the 10th birthday of Macclesfield Barnaby Festival in 2020, and for the arts, culture and heritage sector as a whole, alongside the impact felt on the town of Macclesfield, its business, community groups and residents, which continues to be felt at time of writing as the town begins its recovery.

However, we’ve been in the privileged position as Co-Chairs of the charity to work collaboratively with the creative communities and partners of the festival to provide opportunities for coming together, celebrating the arts and heritage of the town, providing solace and opportunities for professional development, performance, collaboration and joy, despite the best efforts of the pandemic to stop us. This is thanks to the support and flexibility of our funders and the ingenuity, hard work, trust and professional excellence of the many people taking a variety of voluntary and paid roles who make Barnaby happen and invite Macclesfield ‘out to play’.

We are also grateful to our amazing audiences and participants who’ve extended their confidence in the festival when we’ve needed to ‘pivot’ to digital delivery, taking part online over Zoom, live-streaming and facebook, interacting with our social media and clicking through to our new digital platform, Second Sight. We were delighted to be able to come together in the public spaces in Macclesfield when it was safe to do so for 2021’s Barnaby Bright, and to enjoy the generosity of our venue partners, in particular St Michael’s and All Angels Church, Christ Church and Red Willow, in welcoming and hosting our incredible commissioned artists.

Barnaby is a special time for Maxonians, an annual calendrical event which we’ve been lucky to celebrate through our biennial festival for ten years in 2020, and now through the ‘off-year’ collection of midsummer events. We are overjoyed by the resilience of the town and applaud all those who have been involved over the decade, particularly these last two difficult years. The full report, available here, articulates the efforts and investment that have gone into the arts, culture and heritage programme and the benefits and impacts it brings to the people of Macclesfield, and to broader audiences, artists and supporters. We are so excited by the many Barnaby’s to come.

Abi Gilmore and Nicola Waterworth,
Macclesfield Barnaby Festival

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