Chorlton Community Arts Festival celebrates 20 years of culture - who’s on, when it is and how to get tickets

The celebration of grassroots culture is back with a bumper line-up for its milestone edition this year - and much of it is free.

A community arts festival in Manchester is celebrating two decades of culture with a spectacular, month-long bonanza of arts performances.

Chorlton Community Arts Festival is marking its 20th anniversary with an incredible 169 events at 60 venues involving almost 1,000 performers and artists.

The festival was established in 2002 and is looking forward to the milestone birthday as both the previous two editions were somewhat disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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    Here’s your guide to what’s on and who is involved in this extraordinary cultural celebration.

    What is happening at Chorlton Community Arts Festival 2022?

    The 20th edition of the Chorlton Community Arts Festival gets under way on 29 April and runs until 29 May.

    The festival is entirely run by volunteers and organised on a not-for-profit basis and seeks to promote all types of visual, performing and literary arts across Chorlton.

    The festival is open to all and the vast majority of events on the packed schedule are free to attend, with the event maintaining a strong belief that everyone is or can be an artist, something the organisers say fits well with Manchester’s history of inclusivity.

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    The team behind the festival is hoping there will be something for everyone on the programme, which ranges from Jubilee flags by primary school children to paintings by residents in their 80s and mixes amateur and professional performers.

    The 169 events include comedy, singer-songwriters, dance, theatre performances, bands, visual art and crafts, and much more.

    The whole thing gets under way on 29 April with a launch event at South West Manchester Cricket Club with Jeff Smith MP attending.

    The festival is overseen by a committee of Chorlton residents and volunteers, led by retired community psychologist Carolyn Kagan and artist Peter Topping.

    And in its first two decades the event has attracted an impressive list of high-profile patrons including former National Poet of Scotland Jackie Kay, comedian Jason Manford and musician Damon Gough, better known as Badly Drawn Boy.

    What are some of the events taking place in 2022?

    The vast programme for Chorlton Community Arts Festival varies hugely, with an array of local talent showcasing their skills in visual art and photography exhibitions.

    There are also plenty of workshops and opportunities for local people to attend and get the creative juices flowing.

    Chorlton Community Arts Festival gives lots of opportunities to showcase visual art

    Other local groups taking part include the Friends of Ryebank Fields, who are organising a day of events, and the Manchester Indie Filmmakers’ Group.

    The programme also includes the likes of digital trails, routes around local green spaces, spoken word and music gigs ranging from indie-folk to jazz-influenced groups to sea shanties.

    The full calendar for the month-long cultural fiesta is available to view on the festival’s website.

    What has been said about the 2022 festival?

    The organisers are particularly looking forward to this year’s festival as the novel coronavirus has meant the last two editions were anything but plain sailing to put together.

    Committee leader Carolyn said: “We’ve had a wonderful time working with local people, bringing another festival to Chorlton …though it’s not been all easy sailing.

    “2020 was a virtual festival which received international acclaim and 2021 was beset by uncertainty with local venues affected by Covid-related closures to the last minute!

    “However, with our fantastic local patrons like Jackie Kay, Stephen Raw, Lip Service, Badly Drawn Boy and Jason Manford and 30 volunteers, business sponsors, local venues, schools and artists, 2022 will be the most memorable ever, building on the organisers’ hard work over the last 20 years.”

    Artistic director Peter said: “Take a look at our programme on the website, there is so much more to see and do than ever before – it is the best ever.

    “There’s something for everyone. Chorlton residents and traders have again done us proud with incredible talent, energy, creativity and fun.

    “We would love to see you all come and support them and your community”.