Packed programme planned for Artsreach’s 30th year

NEXT year will see Dorset-based charity Artsreach celebrate 30 years of bringing professional live performances to rural communities across the county.

Launched in March 1990, the first Artsreach season featured just nine events in a handful of rural venues.

Now, 30 years later, the brand new Artsreach spring programme features more than 75 events from over 30 exciting companies and performers, set to visit 50 rural communities and perform in village halls, churches, pubs and other community spaces right across Dorset.

With the support of the Arts Council and Dorset Council, plus local solicitors Blanchards Bailey, rural venues across the county will host a variety of live music, theatre, dance, storytelling, poetry, cabaret and family shows in the heart of their communities.


Music lovers can enjoy a real medley of styles and genres from both national and international musicians, including The People’s String Foundation, Brazilian group Alvorada, the Neil Maya Jazz Quartet, Belgian instrumentalists WÖR, North American vocal harmony group Windborne, folk duo Kit Hawes & Aaron Catlow, Cajun country and blues band the Cajun Roosters Trio, and Artsreach favourites Chris Garrick and John Etheridge.

Artsreach will also continue their partnership with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, bringing the Resonate Strings Quartet and Trio of Flute, Viola and Harp to venues across the Dorset. Together Artsreach, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra will also host a dementia friendly Cake Concert.


For theatre-goers, French-English duo Spitz & Co are back with ‘Les Gloriables, their riotously funny show inspired by Victor Hugo’s novel. Gonzo Moose return with a brand new comic fairytale adventure in ‘Once Upon a Time’, and award-winning actor Pip Utton goes on a journey of smiles, laughter, respect and tears in ‘And Before I Forget I Love You, I Love You’.

Following their hit show ‘Great Train Robbery’, Scratchworks present the raucous and hilarious tale of the first female resistance in ‘WOMANS’. African Caribbean company Tangle share a daring tale of trickery and avarice in a bitingly fresh version of Ben Jonson’s comedy ‘Volpone’, and the Cornish Owdyado Theatre present an anarchic night of hilariously dark comedies in ‘Twisted Tales 2’.

Finally, acclaimed actor Rhodri Miles offers a fascinating exploration of Shakespeare’s Shylock in Gareth Armstrong’s moving and hilarious award-winning play.


Sadhana Dance neatly stitches together dance, medicine and science to explore the unseen world of the operating theatre in ‘Under My Skin’. All singing, all dancing string quartet Bowjangles presents a magical and theatrical musical journey through myths and legends in ‘Excalibow’, and acclaimed storyteller James Rowland tours with ‘Revelations’, the third in his series of multi-award winning shows.

Storyteller Emily Hennessey and sitar player Sheema Mukhrejee conjure up a wild and beguiling world in a retelling of the much-loved Indian epic ‘The Ramayana’. Performer Peter Gill presents ‘The Wit and Songs of Noel Coward’ through anecdotes and songs, while The Ridgeway Singers & Band invite you to join them for ‘Tea with William Barnes’, in celebration of the Dorset poet’s birthday.

Together British author Andy Morgan and Alhousseini Anivolla, lead singer of desert blues band Etran Finatawa, present a multimedia musical show in ‘The Walking Man’. Acclaimed soundscapers Minima provide a live musical sound score to two popular silent films; the 1922 horror ‘Nosferatu’ and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1927 thriller ‘The Lodger’.

And finally, Artsreach continues their poetry and pint sessions in rural pubs with performances by Jonny Fluffypunk and Luke Wright.

Family entertainment

There’s plenty for families to see too, with four brilliant productions touring Dorset in the New Year and during February half term. Combining dance, humour and spoken word, Protein Dance presents their version of the world-famous story of ‘The Little Prince’. With frolics, flitting and flying, the Last Baguette present ‘The Bird Show’, a madcap and touching show about birds facing changes to their habitats.

Dorset-based storyteller Michele O’Brien weaves her magic in a captivating and gripping tale about ‘The Ark and Dove’, and their journeys across the sea from the Isle of Wight to Maryland. Finally, weaving threads of Devon folklore with shape-shifting puppetry, Angel Heart Theatre presents the enchanting tale of ‘Mazymeg & The Honeybees’.

Finally Artsreach will kick off its programme of special celebratory birthday fundraising events with an Anniversary Ceilidh at Ashton Barn, Martinstown, in March. Expect music and calling from a few familiar faces, and a delicious ploughmans supper thanks to Dike & Son in Stalbridge.

This is just a taster of everything happening around Dorset with Artsreach this spring. Full details and tickets are available from and various outlets, including Lyme Regis Tourist Information Centre, where you can pick up a copy of the programme. You can also find Artsreach on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with the latest news.

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