Founded in 1977 Leek Arts Festival began as a week-long celebration of the local arts scene with just a handful of events.
Over the years it has expanded to nearly six weeks – it now runs from the end of April to the beginning of June each year – and features anything between 30 and 40 events including national and internationally-known artists.
Each year the programme is put together by a handful of hard-working volunteers (just six at the latest count!) who do everything they can to provide interest and variety from one year to the next.
Leek Arts Festival works as an umbrella organisation to foster and support local groups and individuals, but also brings big name performers to the town.
The festival committee organises a series of core events – star names in the recent years have included Ralph McTell, Mike Harding, Barbara Dickson, Richard Digance, The Travelling Band, Jeremy Hardy, Fairport Convention etc – and offers advice and support to local groups and individuals who want to stage their own events as part of the overall festival programme.
The result is a satisfying mix of local and national/international talent, all happening over six weeks in a small market town with a population of just 20,000 people.
Many events, including the festival committee’s own ‘core’ activities, take place at Leek’s Foxlowe Arts Centre. The committee is extremely grateful to the Foxlowe trustees and volunteers for their continued support and generous assistance.
Funding for publicity and marketing comes via sponsorship and grant support from various sources including Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Leek Town Council and the Leek Town Lands Trust, all of whom recognise the key role of the festival in attracting visitors to the area and the positive impact the arts can have on the health and wellbeing of the community.
Members of the festival committee are all volunteers who each devote hundreds of hours of their time to help stage the festival and who receive no financial benefit from what they do.
As a UK registered charity (registration number: 507874) Leek Arts Festival operates with the rules and regulations of the Charity Commission and files an annual report of its accounts to the commission. All members of the festival committee are trustees of the charity and are personally liable for any financial deficit are the end of the charity’s financial year.
Happily, such a situation has never arisen, largely due to the committee’s policy of seeking to ensure that all events it is directly responsible for at least break even if not make a small profit.