An opportunity for the region’s artists to come together, share experience, pitch ideas, celebrate and develop, the first Dorset Artists’ Festival takes place at Lighthouse, Poole’s centre for the arts, on Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 May. 

It opens with a full day of ten performances and presentations from Dorset-based theatre makers, musicians, comedians, and circus performers – plus some puppets – taking place in the Sherling Studio, foyers, and function rooms.  

“After many Covid-related delays, we are delighted that Dorset Artists Festival will take place this month and I am looking forward to seeing the work that these amazing people have created,” says Elspeth McBain, Lighthouse Chief Executive. 

The day will include work developed at Lighthouse as part of last year’s Sanctuary residency programme where artists were given use of Lighthouse venues and technical support to enable them to get back to making new work and rehearsing shows halted by Covid.  

Among those taking part are: Aanka Batta, Angel Exit, Charlie Bicknell, DEBUT/Drag, Diverse City, Dorset Born, Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists, Gemma Alldred, Gobbledygook, Rowan Hedley, Joli Vyann, Louise Jordan, Rohan Gotobed, Rowan Prescott Hedley, Starecase Productions, Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company, The Working Boys Club, Theatre Vivo and Transtlanky2. 

“The idea for this artists’ festival was developed during lockdown where we wanted to celebrate and support the many fabulous live performance professionals living and working in Dorset, all of whom have had a really tough couple of years as freelance artists unable to access government support during Covid,” adds Elspeth. 

“We hope that this platform will lead to our Dorset artists being seen across the region as well as nationally.” 

Tuesday evening will see a performance of Dearly Beloved, a eulogy with a difference performed by incredible circus eccentric Charlie Bicknell, for which a limited number of tickets are available to the public. 

That’s followed on Wednesday by a series of five-minute pitches and a day of debate and provocations, a time for professional performers, theatre-makers, producers, and promoters working in Dorset to reflect, make connections and contribute to future planning. Organisations including Lighthouse, Activate and the Arts Development Company, as well as artists, will join in a symposium event examining how best to support artists and further develop the arts in Dorset. 

Over the two days some 50 artists and creatives, plus delegates from venues, agencies, promoters and funders, are expected to participate. 

Places can be booked at 


Published 10 May 2022