Exclusive: Highlights of 2016 arts year in Harrogate district, part 1

February - Harrogate Theatre turned the spotlight on the town itself in an exciting jewellery heist drama.
February - Harrogate Theatre turned the spotlight on the town itself in an exciting jewellery heist drama.
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It was an action-packed year for the arts in North Yorkshire in 2016 for sure.

Here we present part one of a two-page look back at a small smidgeon of the many highlights.

Apologies to the many great happenings we didn't have space for.


Dancers from the renowned Northern Ballet star in a stunning event inside Harrogate’s Mercer Art Gallery in a collaboration with the gallery and Yorkshire artist Tom Wood. The company’s director David Nixon even turns up on the launch night.


Harrogate Theatre’s chief executive David Bown gets back in the saddle as writer of a gripping and funny play.

As its title, Loaded in Harrogate, suggests, this jewellery heist drama in conjuction with Reform Theatre was set in the town itself and featured music by local bands The Birdman Rallies and Black Ocean.


A nature book set in an unfancied part of Harrogate is a bestseller in the nature writing charts.

Written by Rob Cowen, published by Penguin Random House, Common Ground is set entirely in the area around Bilton- Ripley bridleway where the author himself lives with his family.

He now fears the area is facing the twin threat of development from possible new housing and a possible new bypass.


The Harrogate Band are filmed inside Durham Cathedral in a key scene in renowned artist Grayson Perry’s new documentary programme for Channel 4 - All Man. The theme of Perry’s series is that men have been mis-sold an ideal of masculinity that is a “hangover” from a more violent age. Don’t ask how this talented and versatile brass band ended up in the show!


One of the UK’s pre-eminent music critics gives a talk at Raworths Literary Festival presented by Harrogate International Festivals’ and Raworths. Jon Savage is the man behind England’s Dreaming, the seminal text on the Sex Pistols and punk rock.

At this event, however, he’s talking about his latest book 1966, appropriately enough as Harrogate International Festival itself was first launched in that year.

It’s a year the author loves. “The pace of everything that year was insane. It was an enormously exciting time. Things changed incredibly quickly,” he tells the Harrogate Advertiser.


Unaccustomed as they were, a string quartet from Harrogate Symphony Orchestra play pop hits from 1966 during a multi-genre, multi-venue event organised by Harrogate gallery RedHouse Originals’ Richard McTague and the Harrogate Advertiser’s Graham Chalmers.

The Spirit of 66 event also includes an exhibition by music photographer Gered Mankowitz and artist Dudley Edwards who designed Paul McCartney’s piano, a talk with renowned music writer Chris Salewicz, artist/designer Dudley Edwards and a live psychedelic show at The Club by The Chessmen.

Part two will follow.