Artist oversees new town festival

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Ofton is a slang term used for the town of Alfreton, which was what inspired the name of the town’s new arts festival. 
The four-day Ofton Festival has been created by youngsters in a bid to promote culture and arts in the area.

The event, which runs from October 20 to 23, invites people of all ages to take part in various events including flag, making, caricatures, comic strips, dances, den building, pottery, fibre arts, photography, poetry, special effects make up, street art and shop window exhibitions.

There will also be all Tales of Terror at Made@No18, a tour of the Abraham Lincoln Library Temple and the Heritage Centre will be open, plus much more.

Coalfields Regeneration Trust is funding Platform Thirty1 – a new arts organisation – to work with a team of young people led by two producers Andrew Turner and Billy Holt.

Supporting them is local artist and trainer Sally Lemsford. She said the festival was a rare opportunity for young people to stretch their leadership skills, a distinct experience that will be transferable to all of their future employment journeys ahead.

She said: “These young people are bringing a freshness and imaginative ideas to this locality, offering people of all ages and abilities exciting new ways of engaging with arts and culture.”

The youngsters between ages 14 and 27, started organising the event in August, and have worked hard to host a totally new festival in such a short time frame.

The festival, which starts at 10am on October 20, has received support from businesses and local bodies including Amber Valley Borough Council, Alfreton Town Council, Genesis, the market, The Meadows Care Home, Alfreton Heritage Centre and many more.

Sally, of Codnor Park, said: “Collectively, whave set out to try and improve arts and culture in the area.

“The children involved are extremely lucky to have this opportunity, as the experience is priceless. 
“They have worked tirelessly since August to put on a great show, which is no mean feat considering it is all new to them, and three months isn’t long.

“The young people have all been forced to learn on the job, and have impressed everyone with their initiative and ability.

“Skills have been acquired along the way, they have learnt the process of turning an idea into realty.

“They have also learnt how to negotiate, curate, market, commission, design and lots of other skills that will help their development both professionally and personally.

“I hope as many community members as possible head down to the festival and enjoy it.”

Jodie Cresswell-Waring from Platform Thirty1 added: “The training for involves decision-making, problem solving, teamwork, creative/lateral thinking and negotiating.

“It supplies a rare platform to nurture resilience and confidence in individuals. Young people have had a rare opportunity to become commissioners of new local cultural activity, that excites and enriches their own lives as well as making the cultural offer better in the local community where they live.” 

Young producer Andrew Turner said the experience has had a positive impact on all aspects of his life.

He said: “Working on Ofton Festival has helped me tremendously.

“It has given me a big boost in confidence, made me realise this is an interesting area that I would like to explore.

“It has also opened my eyes to different career opportunities working with the community.
To find out more information about the festival, or to book a place at the workshops email Sally at coalfestivalfolk@gmail.com or follow them on Twitter: @oftonfestival.