Artsreach has some unusual ways to celebrate its 30th birthday

PUBLISHED: 14:18 27 January 2020

Springhead gardens at Fontmell Mgana provides the magical setting for an Alice in Wonderland day

Springhead gardens at Fontmell Mgana provides the magical setting for an Alice in Wonderland day


Artsreach is a registered charity that brings high quality performances of live theatre, music, dance and family shows to the heart of rural communities across Dorset.

This year, take an amazing journey with Artsreach, as Dorset's rural touring arts charity celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Alongside the usual programme of music, dance, theatre, comedy and storytelling, special events include a barn dance, adventures down the rabbit hole, a chance to meet best-selling novelist Minette Walters, love lost and found, a tempest-blown island and magical forests.

In 1990, the first Artsreach season brought 39 events to 15 villages. In 2020, there will be around 150 performances in more than 50 communities. The first ever Artsreach event was at Ansty's Old Brewery Hall on Friday 9th March 1990, with actress Rohan McCullough in her solo show, Beatrix Potter. Look out for this Artsreach favourite later this year. Appropriately, the first event for the 30th birthday is in March, on Friday 20th, with a barn dance at Ashton Barn, near Martinstown.

Beautiful Springhead Gardens, at Fontmell Magna, provides a magical setting to meet Alice, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts. Enjoy the Alice in Wonderland Family Fun Day on Monday 25th May, with Alice-themed activities, picnics, walks ... and jam tarts.

Minette Walters is the guest at a Black Death Party on Friday 19th June, with music from Tim Laycock and Phil Humphries. The event is themed around Minette's novels, The Last Hours and The Turn of Midnight, set at the time of the Black Death, which came into England through the port of Melcombe in 1348. The venue is Hinton St Mary tithe barn, by kind permission of Mrs Valerie Pitt-Rivers.

The highlight of the year will be the first visit to Dorset - and Artsreach - by Shakespeare's Globe theatre company, bringing three of the Bard's best-loved comedies - The Tempest, As You Like It and A Midsummer Night's Dream - to Littlebredy.

Other events include a community apple tree planting day and a concert by one of the country's best-loved music groups - still to be revealed.

Artsreach co-directors Kerry Bartlett and Yvonne Gallimore are looking forward to what is going to be a very busy year: "Over the last 30 years, Artsreach has grown to be one of Dorset's best-loved organisations. We are so lucky to be supported by an incredible team of volunteers across the county. This anniversary gives us the perfect opportunity to come together and celebrate everything we all love about rural touring." u

Read more about our past, present and future in our monthly column in Dorset Magazine or at

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