After months of experiencing a vacuum in the arts and culture environment the weekend of 3rd and 4th September saw the culmination of more than eighteen months planning of WAMfest Felixstowe, a festival to celebrate the contribution of women in the arts which successfully raised £1500 for the Lighthouse Women’s Aid Charity.
A first taste of the festival mood was introduced in August with a Flamenco workshop at the Two Sisters Arts Centre which was enjoyed by over twenty people of various ages and abilities.
The Festival Launch took place at Two Sisters Arts Centre on 3rd September, and Radio Suffolk and Look East TV crew attended and broadcast live. A brand new all female ukelele band, the Ukulele Ladies entertained the launch party audience with an interactive session, resplendent in colourful hats and clothes. Big Mama Funk filled the venue with a range of wonderful soul, jazz and musical theatre classics.
Over eighty women performers from Felixstowe Harmonies, Essentially Swing and Stellar Acappella entertained enthralled audiences at the Triangle, and the town centre visitors also heard from buskers, four year old Katie Mitton and Elly Tree. The beautiful Westerfield Room at the Orwell Hotel saw an eclectic range of musical artistes including the Common Ground Band and Christina Johnston, international soprano. Five published authors, Ruth Dugdall, Amanda Hodgkinson, Jeannete Hewitt, Cassandra Parkin and Kate Sawyer shared their experiences and motivations for writing in interactive sessions ably chaired by Liz Rastrick, the Trimley St Martin Recorder.
The Festival Finale included the beautiful voice of Belinda Gillett accompanied by Matt Carter, pop punk all female trio Pink Lemonade and Divatown featuring the voice of Jackie Hole and musicians Mark Stuart and Greg Titheridge had the festival audience up on their feet.
Approximately two hundred people attended the events at the Orwell Hotel and it was estimated that at least one thousand people experienced the live open air entertainment. Exhibitions of women’s art took place at 142 Hamilton Road and can still be viewed at the Gallery Box at Beach Street Felixstowe until the end of the month. And the fabulous WAMfest mural created by Catalina Carvajal on the hoardings opposite the Orwell Hotel is still growing, still celebrating women and still spreading joy. Look out for panel 6 soon to appear.
The WAM team sincerely thanks the Felixstowe Town Council, Councillor Mike Deacon and the Mayor Mark Jepson for support and encouragement and the Deputy Mayor Sharon Harkin for her attendance and enthusiasm.
Videos of some of the performances can be seen on Facebook created by the very talented Jon Swallow of Swallow Media. https://www.facebook.com/WAMfestFX/videos/