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Over five thousand people discover art in New Forest National Park

Over five thousand people discover art in New Forest National Park


The New Forest Arts Festival hosted over 60 events between 10 and 25 June, encouraging visitors and residents to explore new parts of the Forest and engage in the National Park’s rich creative community.

Led by the New Forest National Park Authority with local creative organisations, the Festival brings together a variety of art forms inspired by the Forest’s culture, wildlife and landscape.

Events this year included an outdoor performance of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible at Blackwater Arboretum, workshops at an ancient shipyard and a family theatre performance at a Roman villa.

Artists and art organisations benefited from a £6,000 boost thanks to a small grant scheme funded by New Forest District Council and the New Forest National Park Authority. Many of the events within the Festival were free or discounted thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding, making them accessible for families of all ages, children, adults with learning disabilities and the more mature generation.

Clare Young, Marketing Co-ordinator for Minstead Trust, said: ‘We had a busy programme of events across the two weeks at Furzey Gardens, which included performances, demonstrations, workshops and photographic, ceramic and textile displays.

‘As a charity that supports adults with learning disabilities, the Festival is a great opportunity to showcase some of the work we do and the skills our students at Minstead Trust have developed with the support of staff and volunteers. Bringing people of all abilities and cultures together at events such as our African Activities day was particularly exciting and created a great atmosphere for people visiting the Gardens to enjoy.’

The Festival also featured a Free Art for All day at Lyndhurst Community Centre, with local artists proving free family-friendly workshops in cartooning and ceramics, in addition to an exhibition of works by artists taking part in this year’s Festival.

Forest Arts Centre at New Milton hosted a variety of events, including a performance of Hurricane Michael, featuring an exclusive Q&A session with former BBC weatherman Michael Fish MBE. Forest Arts Centre Director Helen Cundy said: ‘The Arts Festival was an opportunity to present events that incorporated the theme of trees and celebrated the communities of the New Forest. We worked with the Romany community, hosting an exhibition and staging events that shared their heritage.

‘We also ran an outdoor sculpture project for young people and families creating a beautiful sculpture from natural materials at Dibden Inclosure. It was fantastic to welcome new participants of all ages, trying out new arts forms and celebrating the heritage of the Forest.’

The theme for this year’s Festival was trees, linking to a new ‘Charter for woods, trees and people’ being developed nationally in recognition of the role trees and woods play in our lives. It is led by the Woodland Trust and events are taking place across the country throughout 2017 to mark the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest.

Jane Cooper, Chief Executive of the Countryside Education Trust at Beaulieu, said: ‘Being involved in, and supported by, the New Forest Arts Festival gave our charity the opportunity to explore creative ways of connecting people with the countryside. Our Tremendous Tree Trail brought to life the magic of the New Forest woodlands, with storytelling, arts and crafts, and even leaf tasting giving people a new perspective on trees.’

The Festival Steering Group is made up of the New Forest National Park Authority, Hampshire Cultural Trust, New Forest District Council, SPUD, Forest Forge theatre company, the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst, Forest Arts in New Milton, hArt, and St Barbe Museum in Lymington. Organisers are already looking at how the Festival can evolve next year. To express interest in sponsoring the Festival please contact Hilary Makin on 01590 646608 or


Notes to Photo Editor:

Forest Forge Theatre Company’s outdoor performance of The Crucible at Blackwater Arboretum near Brockenhurst.

Notes to Editor:

About the New Forest Arts Festival

The New Forest Arts Festival is one of many projects within a Heritage Lottery Fund scheme called Our Past Our Future, led by the New Forest National Park Authority with 10 key partners.

Over the next four years it will help protect and enhance the landscape, develop Forest skills and encourage residents and visitors to discover and safeguard the Forest’s fascinating heritage. More details at

This is the first year of the Arts Festival, with around 40 events inviting people to celebrate the New Forest National Park’s landscape, culture and creative community. Many of the events are in unusual venues and there are many opportunities to take part.


About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect – Enjoy – Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park – Protect.
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities — Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park — Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit to find out more.

Media Contact
Beki Mole, Communications Assistant
New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646639

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