‘UNBELIEVABLE’ — that was the verdict from the founder of a pioneering Burton arts festival as he reflected on two months which saw the town rediscover its creative flair.
When Alistair Kennedy conceived the PINT contemporary arts festival a year ago, he envisaged a weekend event where a few town pubs would offer their walls as art space.
But the festival quickly ballooned to a 10-day, and then a two-month long event, encompassing 43 artists and eight venues.
“It’s been unbelievable,” said Mr Kennedy, sipping a pint at the Uxbridge Arms, in Queen Street, one of the participating venues.
“It’s gone so much better than I expected and I’m really proud of what we’ve managed to do, with the quality of work that’s been on display and the community spirit that’s grown up between the artists and the venues.”
Mr Kennedy said the success of the event, funded via the artists paying a small fee and sponsorship through local businesses, had disproved the traditional view of Burtonian apathy and had wider benefits for the town.
He said: “It has confounded my view because we’ve had so much positivity from everyone.
“It has definitely captured the town’s imagination, helped promote Burton and raised its profile as a creative hub, which boosts the economy of the town as a whole.”
Mr Kennedy said he was ‘absolutely knackered’ and looking forward to enjoying his first weekend off for three months, but he was already looking forward to next year’s PINT festival.
He said: “I’d like to see it grow in a controlled way because I’ve seen it before with other festivals where the quality is diluted because they try to grow them too fast.
“Everyone is on board for next year and we want to keep this stable of artists because they’ve been so professional and reliable.
“I can only thank everyone who has been involved, from the artists and venues to our sponsors and the Burton Mail, because I don’t think it would have been such a success without the coverage we’ve received.”
For those who missed some of the highlights of the festival, a ‘Best of PINT’ exhibition will be held at the Brewhouse arts centre, in Union Street, from January 12 to February 16.
ALISTAIR KENNEDY’S PINT HIGHLIGHTS:
>> The Molson Coors maltings tower, in Wellington Road, was transformed into the biggest canvas of the entire festival, with works by the artists projected onto its side and visible for miles around.
>> The festival’s gala opening attracted 350 guests to 107, Station Street, the converted former Ind Coope brewery building, while an estimated 450 visited the building later to view the artworks.
>> Artist David Booth achieved the ‘wow factor’ by creating a snake-like sculpture from 100,000 beer mats at the Brewhouse arts centre.
>> PINT took over the newly-sited stalls in Station Street for an artisan market and craft fair which proved a hit with shoppers.
ALREADY PLANNED FOR NEXT YEAR’S PINT FESTIVAL:
>> Visual and live artist Walt Shaw will create a musical installation comprised of members of an avant-garde improvisational orchestra and choir.
>> Sheffield artist Hazel Lale will create artwork on the floor of elevators in Burton town centre.
>> Burton artist Martin Naidu will return with an expanded version of his installation comprised of ceramic faces.
THE LANDLORD’S VIEW:
>> Steve Morgan, from the Uxbridge Arms, one of the participating venues, said: “I think it’s a great thing Alistair has done and the town needs something like this.
“It’s a good thing for pubs because it provides something for people to see and connects with something they wouldn’t normally connect with.
“People have been coming in and looking at the artwork, and I think they are more likely to have something like this hanging on their wall because it’s local and is something they can identify with.
“Art is a form of expression and everyone is artistic, even if they don’t think they are.”