Dulwich Festival: ‘Coming together as one’

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New director Sarah Taylor talks about how they have brought events from the festival guide pages to local venues in Dulwich

Sarah Taylor

What does the festival bring to the community of Dulwich?

Dulwich Festival is a brilliant opportunity to bring our community together and celebrate the wonderful abundance of creativity. There is a wide range of events on offer, with something for everyone spanning across music, dance, performance, walks, talks, literature and art. Many of our family activities are free, including the Family Fun Day at Kingswood Arts, which will include live music, food and crafts.

Is there an event or a part of the festival you are most excited about?

[At the time of writing,] we’ve just finished putting together the festival guide and so it’s all feeling very real and exciting! 

There are so many aspects to be excited about; we have some very big household names heading literature, including Channel 4 presenter Cathy Newman, healthy food blogger Ella Mills and local author Kenny Imafidon. 

Big Fish Little Fish, a family “rave” day for parents and children, with DJs, dancing, music and arts, as well as the Live Band Dance Party are both new to the programme this year, and we’re really excited to see how the south London community responds to them. 

However, it’s really the diverse and culturally rich offering that I feel so excited about – the festival is an opportunity for everyone to feel nourished by having fun, engaging in interesting and mindful activities and coming together as one.

How did you feel about being appointed as director of Dulwich Festival? 

Sarah Taylor: My background is in community and participative arts as well as events and festivals. I started my career at the Barbican working mostly on projects for schools, families and young people. I founded Pexmas in 2011 with friends, hosting markets and festival-style events as a vehicle to celebrate local artists and makers. 

I’ve been a freelance producer, project manager and consultant in the arts and small creative business communities for 15 years. Last year was my first behind-the-scenes at Dulwich Festival on a very small scale and I was so inspired by the care and passion that this small and largely volunteer-led team have for our local community and the arts. 

I was honoured to be invited to the directorship and I’m very excited to have this opportunity to work for such a long-standing organisation that means so much to so many people locally. 

How did you approach the festival line-up as director this year?

After last year’s bumper 30th anniversary celebrations, and a change in quite a few team and board members, this is a year for learning and reflection at Dulwich Festival HQ! 

We are delighted to bring many of the festival’s favourite events and mainstays back again, as well as developing partnerships and introducing a few new events in response to feedback from our friends. This is where I’d like to focus our attention this year; listening to our audiences and understanding what they would like to see the festival deliver over the next 30 years. 

How will it feel to see the hard work come to fruition in 2024?

We can’t wait! We have such a varied lineup this year; there really is so much among the 60+ events to appeal to so many different audiences. I’m so proud on behalf of this exceptional team of curators and organisers to see it all come off the festival guide pages and into local venues. 

10 to 19 May 2024



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