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New Forest Arts Festival

New Forest Arts Festival

Lead Partner

New Forest National Park Authority

What has been achieved?

The unique landscape, heritage and culture of the New Forest has been showcased through a variety of art forms. From film and theatre performances to music concerts and workshops, many events have been set in unique spaces, including a beach hut, an arboretum and an ancient shipyard. 

Two arts festivals, held in 2016 and 2017, attracted more than 10,000 people. The Arts Festival project has brought together a wide range of local organisations: hArt; Forest Forge Theatre Company; Forest Arts Centre; Forestry England; New Forest Heritage Centre; Minstead Training Trust; Hampshire Cultural Trust; SPUD; Countryside Education Trust; New Forest District Council; National Trust; St Barbe Museum and Coda.

A number of these have gone on to create Folio, a new umbrella group of arts organisations, to take a fresh approach to developing creative events and programmes across the New Forest. Folio has been successful in getting a small grant from Arts Council England to grow audiences and deliver artistic engagement within communities and is now applying for further funding.


  • ‘Time and Place’, a photographic heritage project which gathered and curated stories and old photographs from residents of Hythe and the Waterside, resulted in a three-week exhibition called ‘22 Miles of Sea’ at the New Forest Heritage Centre. 
  • ‘Folk Orc’ in the Forest was a series of workshops which culminated in a performance at Forest Arts and then further developed to produce a book of New Forest folk songs. 
  • SPUDology has seen two artists – Simon Ryder and Reinhild Beuther – take up residency at spudWORKS. Their work has focused on interpreting the landscape at Hill Top in Beaulieu and considers the idea that humans and nature have been closely entwined for centuries.
  • ‘In the Eyes of the Animal’, a free virtual reality experience allowing 900 people to go on an immersive journey in the forest through the eyes of four different animals.

NPA Grants Officer Fiona Wynne said: ‘The strength of this project has been the relationships we have developed with arts organisations in the New Forest. We started off with a festival, then adapted our approach to concentrate more on supporting arts organisations and helping develop Folio.’ 


A new sub-group of arts organisations from the Festival and FAF has been created to steer the work and they produced a vision of how they could work together in the future. During 2018 they rebranded as Folio and launched at the New Forest Show to promote the group to the local creative community.

Folio have been successful in getting a small Arts Council grant to further develop the group, undertake some audience development work and to run further engagement projects.

The Arts Council now recognise the New Forest as an area where involvement in the arts is significantly below the national average and have invited Folio to apply for a £1.2million grant from the Creative People and Places grant scheme.

Contact details

Hilary Makin – Communications Manager, New Forest National Park Authority

Tel: 01590 646608 email:


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