History of the festival

How did we start ?

History of the Festival

In almost three decades, Arts Alive has grown from a low-key local event to one of the largest annual community arts festivals in the South East.

Mole Valley District Council launched the festival in 1988, originally calling it Festival of Arts. The aim was to encourage all ages to participate in local arts, and there were around sixty events. The majority were talks, presentations and live music.

In 1997 the festival was renamed Arts Alive. It ran for two weeks, and attracted 35 groups and artists. Over the years it grew in popularity, and was extended to six weeks. 2019 saw our biggest festival to date, with 93 events condensed into six weeks.

In 2020 in response to Covid-19 restrictions, we decided to take the festival online. Many of our regular event holders took on the challenge to deliver live or recorded content, and we attracted new event holders who were able to offer digital content. We were able to deliver more than 50 events, the majority of which were free to view. We were delighted to win Best Arts Project in the National Campaign for the Arts’ ‘Hearts for the Arts’ Awards 2021.