International Agatha Christie Festival 2017

Dr.SheppardDr.Sheppard Oxford, UK ✭✭✭
Details about the five day festival have begun to emerge. Dates : 13 - 17 September. A month later than proposed, the full programme has yet to be published, but there will be poets, writers, directors and providing workshops, talk, and exhibitions, with links to Agatha Christie, based at Torre Abbey, and the nearby Grand Hotel Torquay. http://www.iacf-uk.org/

Comments

  • Dr.SheppardDr.Sheppard Oxford, UK ✭✭✭
    Gradually more and more information is coming out about this year's Festival to be held in September. It was a big shock to see that the tickets were going to cost £90 and £150, and a relief to see that they decided to make £25 day tickets available. However, once again they have changed their mind and it seems that individual event tickets will be on sale - no confirmed date for this to happen, but expected by the end of July. 

    The programme does seem very strange, with very few activities actually related to Agatha Christie, rather that the five days is a cultural awareness festival. My question is, will the Agatha Christie fans attend the festival? Interested to hear your thoughts.
  • JonathanJonathan Honiton, England Fan
    I attended the festival over the weekend, and I must say it was a huge disappointment. The organisers clearly had no real affinity with their subject, and the vast majority of events had only the most tendentious link to Agatha Christie or her books. It seems the director used the festival as a platform for promoting arty farty pet themes and avant garde (talentless?) local artists and musicians. Among the 'treats' was Arabic poetry translation, Egyptian documentary films of the 50s, wearable sculptures, meditation, dance, and a 19-hour modernist piano recital. It was utter self-indulgent drivel. Not surprisingly it was poorly attended, with handfuls of genuine Agatha Christie fans wandering aimlessly about wondering what to do and what to make of it all. If this year's debacle hasn't killed off the festival for good, they're going to have to have a total re-think next time round. They could start by getting someone on board who actually knows and loves Agatha Christie. 
  • Dr.SheppardDr.Sheppard Oxford, UK ✭✭✭

    @Jonathan

    I am delighted to find someone else that has attended the Agatha Christie Festival – it has always appeared that I was the only one. In commenting I also feel that someone may get the impression that I am part of the Marketing Team for the festival, when I’m actually just a fan of Agatha Christie’s books.

    The festival was certainly a little different this year; it was governed by the fact that the organisers felt they needed funds to run it on a more permanent basis with activities happening throughout the year. They were able to obtain a grant from Arts Council England, for £91,000, based on the fact that they would promote ‘Arts’ in the local Torbay area. See below.

    There were very few true Agatha Christie related events, however, these events were well attended. On Thursday, the Julius Green (From Page to Stage) which examined the approach used by Christie to adapting her novels into plays, was well attended - they had to change rooms because of the interest meant over 100 people attended.  On Saturday the Mark Aldridge event, (Christie on Screen), was sold out. On Friday, the Lurker-Linane Investigations, (Pitch n Put murder investigations), had 49 people playing. Finally, both John Curran events were also sold out. So, there was a little bit for all tastes, but having said that I did only attend three events, partly because I did not want to pay £25 for a day ticket and when they made individual event tickets available they soon sold out to the events I wanted to attend. I hope the committee have learnt something from this year’s festival! I would add that the local businesses that promoted Christie did a brilliant job and although they were not part of the festival they were well supported and some sold out. As a whole the week of the festival was really enjoyable, and the fans staying as The Grand Hotel (which supports the festival) had a fantastic week with lots of things to do.

    It was a new Festival Director this year, and it may be that he was not aware of what the Agatha Christie Festival means to her fans, however, there are changes in the air regarding how Agatha Christie is being promoted. We saw thebeginning of a change with the TV films in the last two years and in November this year, The Murder on the Orient Express film, is very different from the book (inside knowledge). My thoughts on this is that they are not Agatha Christies work, so my comments will always be based on the books.

    As you have stated the festival organisers do need to be made aware of what the Christie fans would like the festival to present, we need to tell them and make sure they get the message. The official festival is every two years, so next year it looks like there will be a one-day birthday celebration on Saturday 15th September, however, there are a group of fans that are considering running their own festival, if they do, they need to be supported.

    Perhaps I’ve gone on too long, but I hope it is of interest to you and others in this community.

    Notes:

    In autumn 2017, Zuppa Theatre (an ensemble theatre company based in Halifax, Nova Scotia) will be working with IACF on a research project. (https://www.iacf-uk.org/activities/vista/)

    During this autumn, IACF is working with local Torbay and South Devon-based arts organisations Doorstep ArtsPlay Torbay and Sound Communities on a series of projects at Torre Abbey presented as part of the Doorstep Festival. (https://www.iacf-uk.org/activities/iacf-october-half-term-projects/)

  • JonathanJonathan Honiton, England Fan
    Thanks for your full response. It was helpful to hear about the Arts Council sponsorship, and explains the diversity of events. Unfortunately, it also reinforces any prejudices I might have about how arts funding is used to promote art and music that no-one wants to see or hear.

    I, too, attended Mark Aldridge's excellent talk at Torquay Museum (I asked the question about Soviet film adaptations) and for me it was the highlight of the weekend. Funny, informative and engaging. It was precisely the kind of event I would have expected from such a Festival, and which really I wanted to see more of. You mentioned similar events from earlier in the week which I should also have liked to have attended, so perhaps more concentrated scheduling of those types of events might have improved my own experience of the festival. 

    I have today completed the IACF online feedback form, and made that point, among others. I trust I've done it in a constructive way!  
     
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