Big Up for Taunton Youth Arts Festival

The first of an annual series of Youth Arts Festivals, facilitated by ArtsTaunton but curated by young people for young people, has taken great leaps forward in staff and funding this week. It is planned to take place in the autumn of 2019.

ArtsTaunton has announced the appointment of Deborah Baddoo as its Youth Arts Festival Director, in charge of bringing together young people to celebrate the whole range of artistic activities they enjoy in and around Taunton.

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Ms Baddoo is internationally recognised in the field of dance, production and performance, and has organised events and tours nationally and internationally. She received an MBE in 2010 and has lived in Taunton since 1997.

ArtsTaunton has also appointed Kathryn Davies as Director of Development to oversee the development of the charity and raise funds for Taunton and the Arts. As well as being an accomplished pianist and piano teacher for the past 8 years, Ms Davies has an outstanding track record in charity management, fundraising and communications. She returned to her native county of Somerset 10 years ago.

In other good news, ArtsTaunton announced this week that the Festival is also the recipient of generous grants from The Schroder Charity Trust and Taunton Deane Borough Council. This comes on the back of a major £250,000 pledge from The Brownsword Charitable Foundation in September 2018.

This financial support and the arrival of two new members of staff means that ArtsTaunton can look forward to growing the collaborative opportunities for young people and the arts in Somerset’s county town through 2019 and beyond – especially now that Taunton has been designated a Garden Town.

Deborah Baddoo, Youth Arts Festival Director commented: “I am delighted to take on the role of Festival Director for such a pioneering and exciting initiative. The project has huge potential to bring all those organisations working with young people and the arts together.”

“We will celebrate the role that the arts can play in uniting communities and inspiring young people to harness their creativity for their health and wellbeing. We also want to work with arts providers in Taunton to challenge those young people considering a career in the arts to reach higher and go for their dreams. We want them to use the Festival as an annual focus for their talent.”

Kathryn Davies, Director of Development said: “I’m honoured to be chosen as ArtsTaunton’s first Director of Development. I will do all I can to encourage collaboration, support the Arts in Taunton, and raise funds for projects now, and in the future.”

Kit Chapman, Founder, Director and Trustee of ArtsTaunton said: “ArtsTaunton has arrived at a tipping point in its ambition to influence the town’s transformation into a major centre for arts and culture in South West England. The massive injection of funding we have attracted this year has enabled us to appoint two outstanding professionals in Kathryn Davies and Deborah Baddoo. Together, this dynamic duo will spearhead a very exciting future for Taunton Garden Town.”

Martyn Owen, Vice-Chair and Youth Arts Festival architect says: “I am delighted to have Deborah working with ArtsTaunton. It is now ‘all systems go’ to work towards the first Youth Arts Festival during autumn 2019. With our planned vision, it will become a must-see Youth Arts Festival in the South West, showcasing the best of our young creative talent. The opportunities will provide a platform where emerging young artists aged 5-25 years can share their skills and artistic expression with local and visiting audiences. Deborah has an outstanding track record and I know she will enable this Festival to flourish and benefit the whole community.

Arts Taunton
(L-R) Martyn Owen, Deborah Baddoo, Kathryn Davies, Kit Chapman
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