A BASINGSTOKE performing arts festival is celebrating six decades of bringing music and art to the area.

Originally founded in 1963 by Hilda Price, the Basingstoke Music and Arts Festival is preparing to celebrate its 60th birthday.

Originally beginning life as the Summerbrook Festival, the event was hosted to allow the students of Summerbrook School of Music to display their talents.

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However, it was Hilda’s dream for the festival to be expanded to benefit the wider community of the town.

Through the years, the festival has offered a performance platform for developing the talent of successful artists such as Liz Hurley (actress), Roger Tapping and James Lisney (musicians) and Helen Jane Long (composer).

Today the festival is part of the British and International Federation of Festivals and, 60 years on, it hopes to make this year its most successful yet.

Entries are now open for 2023 and the festival committee are looking for creative individuals from across the area to take part in the event, now a much-loved tradition in the community.

This prestigious annual event is open to entrants of all ages and experience, with categories covering creative writing, singing, woodwind and recorders, brass, pianoforte, strings, speech and drama and band, choir, ensemble & orchestra.

Competitions will take place across the first three weekends of March and the festival will conclude with a free celebration Gala Concert offering section winners an additional opportunity to perform.

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Anybody with a passion for writing (be it poetry, short stories, or articles), music, drama, musical theatre or performance of any type is highly encouraged to enter and join the 60th-anniversary celebrations.

Adjudicated by inspiring experts in each field, they are greatly looking forward to hearing from you and encouraging the creativity that the Basingstoke area has to offer.

The closing date for entries is January 20, 2023, with the competitions and awards being presented at Queen Mary’s College.

To find out more about the festival and how to enter, visit basingstokemusicandarts.org.uk.