BLOG #8: I SUPPORT BECAUSE…
I support because...
Did you know that Canterbury Festival is a charity? We hope so, but if not, we’re glad to be able to give you an insight into the many ways to support your local International Arts Festival – by interviewing just a few of our current supporters.
THE VICE PRESIDENT – David Pentin
David is a well-known member of the Canterbury community having worked as an accountant in the city for many years. David has also been Lord Mayor of Canterbury as well as Treasurer and Chairman of Canterbury Festival. Among other charitable work, in 2003 he and his wife, Alicia spent 6 months in India helping the poor living in rural areas of Andhra Pradesh to access better health care. David and Alicia are avid Festival goers and support the Festival with an annual donation as Vice Presidents.
What do you like about living in Canterbury?
I was born in Canterbury so it has a very special place in my heart. I’ve loved living here because there’s so much going on, led of course by our inspiring Cathedral which is a centre showpiece for the City and I’ve attended a lot of events there over the years. I like the City’s locality in that it’s very easy to get to the sea, France, London and provided you forget about the M25, reasonably easy to reach other parts of the country.
It’s a lively city because of the tourists and young people from the universities so we’re certainly not a geriatric city. There’s always something going on which keeps one entertained. Of course – we have a relatively new theatre which is a great asset to the city together with the library. And Canterbury Festival of course, has a big part to play in all of this; developing the arts, entertaining and educating local people – a range of charitable objectives which the Canterbury Festival fulfils very well.
What is your relationship with Canterbury Festival?
I could see having been closely involved with the Festival that it was important to have a number of supporters who could be relied upon to provide financial stability to the organisation on an annual basis. Being a Vice President has led to meeting some very interesting people who come from all walks of life. The benefits that are offered are certainly well worth taking in that you have priority booking, ten complimentary tickets enabling you to bring your family and friends along and an annual dinner where we’re entertained by the winners of the Festival’s annual Bursary Competition – a fantastic platform for young musicians to hone their talents.
What’s your most memorable experience from the Festival?
One year, we went to 60 events in the Festival, and that was when it was two weeks! That was a whirlwind.
One event that stands out, for personal reasons, is Promised Land, a community opera in 2006, partly because I had a very small part in the cast but because it was a unique event in that the budget was supplemented by what Canterbury City Council had received from the European City of Culture bid. It was exciting in that it was a blend of local amateurs and professionals who came in to take the main parts. The opera portrayed the mining industry in Kent and also the hop gardens – two industries that young people often don’t realise existed in this part of the world. What sprang from that was that another amateur dramatic group was formed, which is still going to this day: The Really Promising Company.
Another event that stands out is when the Trondheim Orchestra came to the Cathedral. There was a young female trumpeter, Tine Thing Helseth, who joined them and it was absolutely stunning. The Cathedral is a wonderful venue for a trumpet.
What impact have you seen because of Canterbury Festival?
It’s something that my friends look forward to every year. I think the timing is perfect as it doesn’t get caught up with Christmas, the Summer holidays are over and you’re looking for something to arouse your interests – and the Festival does just that. It’s got such a broad programme that there’s something in it for everybody. I think in the early days, it was a more traditional Festival in that it was primarily music based whereas now, a whole range of entertainment is part of the Festival programme. Of course, the Spiegeltent has been a great asset in broadening the Festival’s audiences.
One of the advantages of the Festival is that you have lots to take a punt on and that you are more often than not, pleasantly surprised. It widens your horizons. If you’re prepared to take a step towards taking yourself out of your comfort zone, you’ll find something you’ll love.
What would you say to others considering becoming Vice Presidents?
Don’t hesitate – join now!
You were previously Chairman of the Festival, what’s something about the organisation people may not know?
I don’t think the public realise that it’s a difficult financial event to organise for the simple reason that booking of artists and venues has to happen before you know what your income is. Sponsorship and people in seats aren’t known until the event is booked. Since Rosie and the rest of the team have been involved, it has operated year on year with a reasonable surplus – which is then churned back into the organisation to support the next year’s charitable activity.
The other thing the public may not appreciate, which we were touching on earlier, is that the Festival team work hard to produce a balanced programme that’s going to appeal to a wide spectrum of audiences. I’m sure some people would rather see more classical music, or more of what their particular interest is, but the Festival’s remit is to try and embrace everybody’s interests, wishes and tastes. You often wish you could ‘carve yourself in half’ to make it to more events than you can – as there’s so much to choose from in the two weeks. I like a logistical challenge!
It has to be mentioned what a magnificent team there is at the Festival; small in number but all very talented and so enthusiastic about their job and the organisation.
To find out more about becoming a Vice President, please contact Amanda McKean at the Festival office on 01227 452 853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.