News Archive

17th May 2019

Dear members and supporters of the Rye Arts Festival,

We have some fresh and exciting news about two of our 2019 crime writers. In recent days both William Shaw (14 September) and Sophie Hannah (19 September) in The Sunday Times Top 100 crime novels since 1945, while William has also been longlisted for the coveted CWA Gold Dagger, which is a great honour. William Shaw’s brilliantly drawn D S Alex Cupidi lives in a shack on Dungeness in the middle of the UK’s only official desert.

We can also reveal that we will be hosting a major retrospective exhibition of the career of prominent local artist Fred Cuming RA, now approaching his 90th birthday. The exhibition will run throughout the Festival, and admission will be free.

As for ticketed events, we have today released a further twelve to add to those already available for online booking. You can find them on the website, where you will also see another innovation: gift vouchers which will allow you to make a present of Festival entertainment to your friends and relatives. We regret that the usual Members’ discounts are not available for gift vouchers.

There are more drama items to add to our wacky, impromptu Blyton on day two.

The up and coming Opal Trio are an exciting young international piano trio we are bringing to Rye with the support of The Musicians Company to play a lunchtime concert featuring Beethoven, while Tangram is an exciting group of Chinese musicians who are also offering a workshop prior to their performance.

Boosting our contemporary music offering, The Wave Pictures are a rock band who have been praised by The Guardianfor writing ‘charming, witty pop songs… they owe a certain debt to The Smiths’.

Raynor Winn, whose inspiring book ‘The Salt Path’ is rapidly acquiring cult status, joins our Books & Talks selection, as does the celebrated historian Andrew Roberts, talking about Churchill.

Please take the time to browse through all these new events and select your tickets.

If you are a member of the Festival then I look forward to seeing you at our 2019 launch party on 7th July, when the remainder of this year’s events will be revealed in the traditional manner over a glass of wine.

While on the subject of membership, can I repeat the plea I made at the AGM for each of our members to try to recruit a new one? Membership subscriptions make a significant contribution to our budget and help to make it possible for us to present the sort of big names you will see in this year’s programme: Roderick Williams, Tasmin Little, David Owen, Max Hastings and Sophie Hannah to name but a few. Sadly, membership levels have declined in recent years and we need to reverse this trend to allow the Festival to go on flourishing in its present form.

We are also looking for some extra volunteers to help Beth Harvey with our Box Office. If you are likely to have some time to donate to the Festival later this summer then she would love to hear from you directly

As we continue to build for the future, your support is more important to us than ever, and we value it. Thank you.

Guy Fraser-Sampson
Chair, Rye Arts Festival


8th April 2019

Dear Members and Friends of the Rye Arts Festival,

This is an exciting day!

Please take a moment to look at the Festival website and you will see that there are already events available for you to book, with all your usual membership discount privileges. This is the fulfilment of the promise we made at the AGM to open the sales window much earlier in the year in order to allow you not only to plan your own diaries, but to invite your friends to the beautiful town of Rye to enjoy some Festival events with you.

We are particularly excited to have secured the internationally famous violinist Tasmin Little, who will be playing Beethoven to mark the forthcoming 250th anniversary (in 2020) of his birth. Sadly this will be one of her last public performances, as she has recently announced her imminent retirement, so we anticipate this concert being very fully subscribed.

In a new development, the first day of the festival will be devoted to CRYME, a one day crime fiction event. Four well known writers, including the entertaining Simon Brett, the creator of the wonderful Charles Paris stories on Radio 4, will each take part in a Q&A session, pausing only for a murder themed four course lunch at the Mermaid Inn. Again, we anticipate this event being very popular as we already know that people are planning to travel to Rye for it from London and beyond.

I will leave you to look around the website and book your tickets, but in the meantime let me mention two other changes we will be implementing this year.

First, again as promised at the AGM, we will be making free tickets available to local students (16+) for the CRYME author sessions and various other events, so if you have young people in your household or extended family then please make them aware of this.

Second, we are conscious that we need to find a way of showcasing those VIP speakers or performers who generously agree to lend us their ongoing support for future years. In common with other festivals, we are adopting the term ‘Patron’ for this purpose. To facilitate this, the tier of membership currently called ‘Patrons’ will be renamed ‘Benefactors’. Just to be clear, this is a change of name only; all discounts and other rights will remain exactly the same.

On behalf of the Trustees, Committee Members, and all the wonderful volunteers whose efforts make everything possible, I look forward to welcoming you and your friends to our events this year, and to hearing your ideas on how we can make the Festival even better.

Guy Fraser-Sampson

Chair, The Rye Arts Festival