I was aware of the Kendal Mountain Festival as a key event for people who do outdoorsy stuff. It wasn’t really for me though because I like to sit on my sofa… Except, I also like swimming. And running. And forcing my children to walk up ‘mountains’ (small hills and chocolate incentives are always required).
As Programme Manager for Gala I often get pitches from producers who are touring speakers on the theatre circuit and are looking for dates at our theatre. They always seemed to go down well with our audiences so my interest was always sparked. The KMF logo or endorsement always made me take a bit more notice. So when we started to talk about a weekend of festival programming, it seemed obvious that we should talk to the experts.
So Paul, Anna and Jacqui were invited over to Durham and after a whistle-stop tour of the venue we started to hatch some plans. It’s always nice to see your city from a different angle and they were so enthusiastic about everything that it was infectious. The lightbulb moment came when they said to us that the whole ethos of their festival was about ‘just getting people to do stuff’, that this wasn’t about elite athletes doing unachievable things, but about ordinary people doing seemingly impossible things, and learning from the mistakes and mishaps. It had storytelling at its heart, and as a theatre producer that sold it for me!
A trip to Kendal during the festival confirmed it for me. Seeing the breadth of work on offer; the headline speakers, the film collections and the fringe literature festival was so inspiring. And the through line of ‘just having a go’ was everywhere. It must have worked because after happening upon a wild swimming event, I have now signed up for the Great North Swim, even though I’ve never done anything like that before. So I am super-excited to now be sharing the programme with you all and to hearing about where it takes you. And if anyone has any advice on where to get a decent wetsuit, I’m all ears!
Arts Programme Manager for DCC