Community Events and Partnerships

Community Events and Partnerships

The Petworth Festival doesn’t just happen in Petworth, it happens for Petworth. From the outset the festival has sought to engage and reach out to all parts of the community, inspiring audiences with music and performance from across the spectrum and engaging them directly in hands-on, participatory and specifically targeted events.

Besides its regular events for families the festival is particularly proud of its track record of working directly in schools, with young musicians associated with the West Sussex Music Trust whether students of classical, jazz and world music, and more recently with young talents emerging from the Worshipful Company of Musicians and the Royal Academy of Music.

Petworth Festival was delighted to receive a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund in 2019. Read more here.

“There is scarcely anyone whose life will be untouched when working with the kind of inspirational artists and performers we regularly partner up with at the festival. It may sound like a cliché but it genuinely is life-changing!”

Stewart Collins, Artistic Director

TRUTH IN NATURE with Antosh Wojcik

The festival is once again delighted to link up with The Arts Society this autumn to promote the creation and performance of poems with pupils from schools across the area. Working with pupils from schools in Petworth, West Chiltington, Duncton, Bury, Fittleworth, Plaistow and Kirdford, Antosh will lead sessions in Petworth Park leading to the creation of new poems reflecting the theme Truth in Nature. Come and hear a number of our young poets perform their work at the Poetry Breakfast on Sunday 3rd November.

Antosh Wojcik is a poet, drummer and sound artist. His debut solo theatre piece, How To Keep Time: A Drum Solo for Dementia combines drumming & spoken word to explore vascular dementia. It is produced by Penned In The Margins and debuted at Summerhall, Edinburgh Fringe ’18 and has toured the UK throughout 2019 with support from Arts Council England.

IN YOUR SCHOOL with Andréa Prior

The first of two extensive schools’ projects this autumn. The Petworth Literary Festival, in association with the South Downs Poetry Festival, is working with popular children’s author and illustrator Andréa Prior, who will be performing readings from her books in our local schools. Helping to fulfil Petworth Festival’s mission to place itself at the heart of our community and for our children to enjoy reading poetry and rhyme from a young age, Andréa’s rhymes are written to inspire, entertain and educate children of 5-9 years. Her reading sessions encourage children to have fun with literacy and language. You can find out more about Andréa on

Participating schools include Amberley Primary, Conifers Midhurst, Duncton C of E, Easebourne C of E, Graffham C of E, Highfield and Brookham, Northchapel Community Primary, Petworth C of E, St James C of E Coldwaltham, St Mary’s C of E Pulborough, Wisborough Green Primary School.

Armonico Consort - Beowulf 2019

‘We commissioned Beowulf so that young people throughout the UK could perform alongside world class artists (not to mention a star from Harry Potter!) in a concert which would be hugely attractive not just to their families but regular concert goers and music lovers. This is a hugely appealing work which will attract both family audiences and Petworth Festival regulars – and what a treat to be in the company of not just the harpist to the Prince of Wales, but also Elin Manahan Thomas who sang as Meghan walked down the aisle last year and the composer himself – Toby Young on keyboards! In almost 20 years of Armonico Consort, this is without doubt my favourite project so far, and I am absolutely delighted that the young people from Petworth Primary School will once again be trained up by our leaders and sing alongside our professional choir in this incredible work.'

Christopher Monks, Artistic Director, Armonico Consort

Full details of the event to be held on Thursday 18 July can be found here.

The AC Academy is the Armonico Consort’s extensive and imaginative singing education programme which reaches 15,000 young people every year, offering life-changing experiences and first class performance opportunities through fun and engaging singing projects.

The Wind in the Willows - collaboration with the National Trust 2019

From the company that brought us the delightful Alice in Wonderland in 2018, join the festival for this free event in the Pleasure Grounds of Petworth House - by kind permission of the National Trust. The entertainment starts at 1.45pm in the company of ‘Rustle’ - two fabulous stilt walking trees.

In collaboration with Petworth Festival and the production of The Wind and the Willows in the Pleasure Ground of Petworth House and Park, entry to the House and grounds will be free on Sunday 21 July.

Full details of the event can be found here.

The Arts Society Art PopUp 2018

Following the enormous success of their PopUp Exhibitions in 2015 & 2017 the Young Arts team from The Arts Society West Sussex (formerly NADFAS) are holding the event again this year. Twenty schools will exhibit a variety of artwork in diverse media, celebrating the wonderful work produced by their pupils during the year. Previously the work was vibrant and exciting, we expect no less in this special 40th Anniversary year.

We are honoured to have the internationally renowned sculptor Philip Jackson to open the Exhibition at 4.30pm on Wednesday 18 July at the United Reformed Church, Petworth. We hope you will join us for the opening of this celebratory event which seeks to encourage young artists of the future.

Palisander Music Workshop 2018

(Pictured above) Recorder quartet Palisander will be running a morning workshop for local schools at Petworth Primary School on Wednesday 18 July. Performing on a large range of Renaissance and Baroquerecorders, Palisander present imaginative, historical programmes performing largely from memory on instruments ranging from a few inches to 6 feet tall. Later that morning, they give a performance of Journey to the New World inspired by the travels of Christopher Columbus, Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh, focusing on themes of exploration and discovery and their respective journeys to the New World. Repertoire includes music from the explorers’ native courts, pieces inspired by the sea, explorations of the music of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and works inspired by the conflicts that arose as Anglo-Spanish relations soured – music that spans over 500 years: Thomas Tallis to Vivaldi to Vaughan Williams.

"a seamlessly entertaining programme delivered with great panache"

Brighton Early Music Festival

Literary Week 2017

In association with Petworth Festival, The Arts Society West Sussex (formerly NADFAS) and Storrington D&FAS have invited poet Rachel Long to Petworth to facilitate a series of participatory, freedom-themed poetry workshops in eight local primary schools. At this special schools’ showcase, these poems will be shared and Young Poet Laureates for Petworth chosen from each school - and crowned.

The schools taking part are: Fittleworth Village School; Bury CofE Primary; St James’ Coldwaltham; Amberley Primary; Petworth Primary; Storrington Primary; West Chiltington Community Primary and Wisborough Green Primary.

Rachel Long is a poet, curator and workshop facilitator. She was awarded a Jerwood/Arvon Mentorship in 2015. Her poems have featured in Magma, The London Magazine and The Honest Ulsterman. She is the Assistant Tutor on the Barbican Young Poets programme, and is the leader of Octavia – a poetry collective for women of colour at Southbank Centre, London. Octavia have featured on BBC World Service, performed at Women of the World and The London Literature Festival, and have run poetry workshops at Oxford University and for The Serpentine Galleries. Inspired by Octavia, Rachel has curated Telling Her Story in partnership with London’s Southbank Centre.

Pop Up Art Trail with West Sussex DFAS 2017

West Sussex Dfas (Decorative and Fine Arts Society) under its parent association, Nadfas, runs an ongoing and comprehensive programme of arts events for young people under the banner Young Arts. The aim to provide inspiration, education and opportunities for young people through experiencing art in all its diversity, and so foster a love for artistic expression and enrich their development.

Young Arts for West Sussex Dfas has formed a rich partnership with Petworth Festival as well as many schools in this area. We welcome the opportunities this brings to increase the programme within the festival for both children and community.

Two years ago we created a Popup Art Exhibition in the Festival. We were supported by fourteen schools who between them them exhibited a staggering 400 artworks of stunning quality in a variety of mediums with artists ranging from 5 to 13years old. The work was admired and enjoyed by many visitors from across the globe.

'What a wonderful display of art from all the schools. An inspiration'

Perth Australia

'Great works of art. We enjoyed it very much indeed'


'I enjoyed seeing my work in the exhibition!'


'A really super exhibition. Lovely to see such a range of techniques from so many skilful children. Thank you for making my afternoon!'

Local artist

The Popup Exhibition is being repeated again this year between 12th and 15th July in the United Reformed Church in Golden Square Petworth, open between 12 noon and 5.30, official opening at 4.00 on 12th July. Here is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the range and brilliance of young pupils artwork in the area and for them to have the opportunity to have their work appreciated by a wider public. The encouragement and confidence afforded to young people by such opportunities cannot be under estimated, and their pride at seeing their work hung in an exhibition is priceless.

We have fifteen schools contributing this year covering a wide catchment area and accepting work up to KS3:

Easebourne Petworth
West Chiltington The Weald Billingshurst
Fittleworth Billingshurst Primary
Coolham Dorset House
Wisborough Seaford College
Storrington Amberley
Petworth Amberley
Bury St James' Coldwaltham