FEATURE Five minutes with Lewis Smith AS THE UK’S YOUNGEST FESTIVAL DIRECTOR, KENILWORTH ARTS FESTIVAL HEAD LEWIS SMITH HAS CREATED AN ECLECTIC ARTS EXTRAVAGANZA IN THE WARWICKSHIRE TOWN. HE CHATS TO AMY NORBURY AHEAD OF THIS YEAR’S PROGRAMME, WHICH TAKES PLACE FROM SEPTEMBER 19 TO 28 Kenilworth Arts Festival is set to take over open spaces, theatres, churches, bookshops and streets this month, transforming Warwickshire’s famous historic town into a world-class stage for arts, music, performance and the spoken word. The festival’s literary weekend will see Walsall author Serena Patel take to the stage for a discussion about the children’s publishing industry, as well as appearances from renowned writers including best-selling author of The Shock of the Fall, Nathan Filer, and award-winning Guardian journalist Amelia Gentleman, whose tenacious work exposed the Windrush scandal. Director Lewis Smith has been the driving force behind the festival since its relaunch from an old arts festival back in 2016, when he was still a student at the University of Warwick. “We wanted to bring high quality arts events to the county,” he explains. “Kenilworth has lots of really unique spaces and we thought it would be an interesting experiment to bring together a series of one-off events featuring world-class musicians and visual artists to different venues around the town. “We’ve been growing year on year since, and 2019 is our biggest year yet with more than 35 events taking place in venues around the town over ten days, ranging from concerts to talks and readings, UK premieres, art installations and street parties - it’s a very eclectic programme. “One of the most exciting developments with the programme this year is that it’s championing new work and collaborations between artists. And this year we’ve got some really exciting and unique art installations which will be on display around the town.” One of the most intriguing is the work of Irish sculptor Donnacha Cahill; ‘the Gramophone’ is a 10ft mobile fully-working gramophone which will be making its way around the town throughout the festival. THIS GIANT GRAMAPHONE WILL BE MAKING ITS WAY AROUND KENILWORTH DURING THE FESTIVAL “It really is a thing of wonder,” says Lewis. “We’re going to be touring it around town and trying to get the whole town involved in the festival. People can bring along their own records and get them played on the giant gramophone - I think it will be really quite a spectacle. “It’s a relatively small programme so it’s really important that we believe in everyone we put on,” adds Lewis. “My personal highlight - if I had to pick one event - is the opening concert on September 19, where we have New Zealand singer-songwriter Nadia Reed coming over to do a one-off solo concert in a 12th century church. Nadia is a phenomenal musician who has been on Later...With Jools Holland and has been nominated for New Zealand’s biggest arts prizes and has received global acclaim for her music. “I’ve been a fan for a long time and every year I’ve emailed her booking agent asking if she might be in the UK, and every year - given the geographical inconvenience with her being based in New Zealand - the answer has been no, until this year when it became possible. So it really is a dream to be able to welcome Nadia to the festival.” For more information visit www.kenilworthartsfestival.co.uk 8
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