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Twenty nine venues across Ipswich will play host to a wide range of music, theatre, visual & performing arts and literature as part of Ip-art 2009.
Ipswich's annual festival of the arts takes place between 27 June and 12 July and boasts a line up designed to provide something for everyone.
"It's the best of music, theatre, film, drama, dance and literature in Suffolk and beyond over a two week period," said James Young, Events Manager at Ipswich Borough Council.
"The central highlight for me is Ipswich Music Day, which is 18 years young this year. But we've got some fantastic events and we're working with a lot of venues this year - Isaacs, The Swan - and we're taking art to the masses.
"There's over 60 events this year and other highlights include the Spectacular Dancing Tent and the Indian Mela on the last weekend of the festival."
The Spectacular Dancing Tent! is a glamorous, but temporary, dance hall which will be based in Christchurch Park.
It will host performances, workshops and classes and its programmes will often be co-ordinated alongside other events in the park, such as Ipswich Music Day or the outside screenings of Mamma Mia! and Quantum of Solace.
Ip-art for all
One of the key points of Ip-art is the number of free events.
Councillor Judy Terry
"This is very important in this rather tight economic climate," said Ipswich Borough Councillor Judy Terry. "Hopefully people will feel like they can participate without putting their hands in their pockets."
Councillor Terry, who is the Portfolio Holder for Arts, Culture and Leisure, said a recent seminar she attended reiterated the important role that festivals such as Ip-art play in a community.
"Having events like this is absolutely vital because it gets people into town and hopefully they'll then be able to spend money in shops, have a meal and so on.
"But it's very important to stimulate activities like this and to make people feel a lot more cheerful - and we're very confident this programme is going to do exactly that."
A talk by Suffolk-born BBC reporter Martin Bell and a performance from children's stand up comedian James Campbell highlight the range of events on offer as part of Ip-art 2009, which James Young says took a year to organise.
Putting the art in Ip-art is partly the responsibility of Julia Devonshire.
"There's a nice and diverse mix of things on show," said Julia, who works year round with exhibitions at the Town Hall Galleries.
"I think it's a fantastic opportunity for us to show new works but it also gives opportunities for people to participate in making and doing."
One of Julia's highlights is a film by Lorna Macmillan showing people in Christchurch Park impersonating a range of animals (Julia and her son had to step in as last minute helpers).
University Campus Suffolk is involved with Ip-art 2009 and will host a number of exhibits and talks, with UCS lecturer Robin Warnes's work amongst Julia's tips.
Shakespeare fans The Pantaloons
"There's also some bleak, cold coastal scenes from Mike Harding," said Julia. "But to tip the balance on that one, he'll also be at the Mela doing live photography portraits.
"This will feed into another body of work and the people are also given the chance to take home their portrait.
"There's also the odd free workshop event, such as Digital Playdays which I highly recommend. They provide innovative workshops and demonstrations in how digital technology can be used to complement traditional methods.
"Ip-art has everything on a shared platform, rather than being visual arts and theatre and performance and music, it's all put together and things can feed off each other."
Although James Young may already be making plans for Ip-art 2010, his message about everyone making the most of this year's festival is clear:
"Pick up a brochure, they're available at all our media partners, check out the website, give us a call and just get out there.
"There's a lot of free events, so take a look at what we've got on offer."
last updated: 02/07/2009 at 12:37
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