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Harrogate International Fringe Festival
The third Harrogate International Fringe Festival opens on Sunday, but programme co-ordinator Graham Chalmers had pondered his own future in the event after tragedy struck last winter.
“I was devastated when one of the Fringe’s key supporters and a great friend of mine, Kula music promoter John Haxby, died of a heart attack in December,” says Graham.
“I wasn’t even sure I wanted to carry on doing the Fringe, but now I think this one is going to be the best yet. It’s got a wider range of events than ever and the ideas are even quirkier than ever – and there’s nothing more important than ideas.”
The politics of the Fringe had made Graham consider standing down too.
“To be fair, it was my own fault. The Fringe is the Harrogate International Festival’s edgier, younger cousin but it’s still working out its relationship with its parents,” he says.
“I wanted it to run before it could walk which brought matters to a head. In the end I decided the festival was bigger than the Fringe and the Fringe was bigger than me.”
Graham drew inspiration from the buzz of last year’s festival. “We had poetry 100ft up on the top of a tower overlooking the town during a psychogeographic tour designed to show a different view of Harrogate,” he recalls.
“Everyone thinks we’re too posh to be in touch with the modern world. My aim with the Fringe is to show it isn’t.”
Coordinating this year’s Harrogate Fringe has been like the difficult third album, reckons Graham.
“But we’ve got such a brilliant line-up, especially when you combine it with the main festival which is very exciting,” he says.
“Last year I surprised Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals on stage at the Harrogate Theatre with a birthday cake while he got a pen knife from the audience to cut it with. Everyone sang happy birthday. It’s moments like that which make Harrogate Fringe genuinely different, which make it so great.
“Outside of Edinburgh, the combination of Harrogate International Festival and the Harrogate Fringe will make the town the best place to be in the whole country for any self-respecting arts lover this summer.”
The festival opens on Sunday with The World’s Smallest Film Festival: Everything Was Better In Black And White; six films at Rudding Park Hotel from 9.30am to 10.30pm.
Other highlights will include the Past Dreams Of The Future and Best Modern Building In Harrogate competition result with author Owen Hatherley at 108 Fine Art Gallery, in Crown Place, on July 7 at 6pm, and retrospective exhibitions by music photographers Stuart Rhodes at Harrogate Theatre and Gered Mankowitz, who will attend the 6pm opening at RedHouse Originals, Cheltenham Mount, on July 28.
From July 18 to 21, 6:12 Drama Group will present Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story at Harrogate Theatre at 9.15pm; on July 21, Across The Town: A Psychogeographic Journey will set out at 7pm for a night of secret live events at various locations; and on July 27, Chic’s groundbreaking musician Nile Rodgers will be In Conversation with Mojo Magazine at Harrogate Theatre at 12.30pm.
The festival will conclude on July 28 with the Fringe Crawl Day 3 involving 60 indie/punk/acoustic acts at assorted locales from noon and 1pm.
Don’t be left out; be on the Fringe.