HOPES FOR 2022: Harrogate arts sector looking to thrive and has high hopes for the new year

A number of key figures from many different walks of life tell us what they are hoping for Harrogate and the district in 2022.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 4:13 pm
Updated Friday, 7th January 2022, 4:14 pm

David Bown, CEO of Harrogate Theatre and Sharon Canavar, CEO of Harrogate International Festivals, have told the Harrogate Advertiser what they are looking forward to and hoping for in 2022, following a tough couple of years due to the ongoing battle against Covid-19.

David Bown - CEO, Harrogate Theatre

“My mother and my in-laws felt too anxious to visit over the festive period.

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David Bown, CEO of Harrogate Theatre, is hoping that arts and culture will have a more prominent role in Harrogate and the district as we move through the pandemic

"There is genuine fear in the older generation to leave their homes.

"I really would like to see an end to this mass apprehension.

"Young and old people have become very dislocated over the past two years and we must all make a concerted effort to rectify that including our local council and schools.

"The arts sector has been decimated and it has been extraordinarily challenging over the winter months so far.

“Many shows tried to open at Christmas only to shut soon after due to Covid or staff shortages.

"Confidence needs to return and the arts requires as much financial help as possible to make that happen.

"I’ve always said that theatre is the antithesis of social distancing and the predicament we find ourselves in.

"The Arts Council and DCMS need to take an alternative look at how they allow theatres to thrive in the future because they will become the focus of many towns and cities as retail declines.

“I must praise our audiences who behaved impeccably over the pantomime period and were compliant in showing NHS passes and wearing masks.

"The people that came along thoroughly enjoyed themselves and we received many compliments as to how safe they felt.

"The hunger is definitely still there for live performance.

“I’d like to see arts and culture have a more prominent role in Harrogate and district as we move through the pandemic.

"The ever-changing landscape of the retail sector means will need to re-think what our town centre looks like and how it operates.

"We must think local and support our independents as much as possible.

“A little less division right across the country, with more support and understanding for other peoples point of view and perspectives would be welcome too.”

Sharon Canavar - CEO Harrogate International Festivals

“It certainly feels a little like Groundhog Day at the moment, but for me it is about trying to look forward positively, and with a tiny kernel of excitement for Festival planning post-March to allow the wretched winter and associated challenges, worries and current variants, to recede.

“2022 could be the year of opportunity.

"The changes in the local democracy landscape with a report to North Yorkshire for Harrogate will undoubtedly be full of change, but also a real chance for transformation in the arts and culture sector.

"North Yorkshire is jam-packed with significant and incredibly high quality cultural and heritage organisations, so how will a new local authority look to take this forward?

“What sort of investment will there be, will there be the chances for growth and to thrive, to work in partnership for greater success?

“The cultural offer across the county is full of hidden gems balanced against high profile buildings and spaces, and I’m looking forward to learning how this be managed and curated for the future.

“Another hope would be to bring the community together.

"We live in a fantastic town, but blimey we do like to moan about it and some of this can be incredibly damaging.

“We seem to be pretty good at creating a polarised view on most subjects at the moment, but I’d love for the town and the various opposing sides to work together to find compromise, strength, and build a future, particularly at a time when more local decisions might be taken elsewhere.

“We should also get better at celebrating what we do well, communicating it and allowing opportunity for debate without it descending into polarised and entrenched views.

" I’d like to see the town treating our area like a Festival; celebrate what is working, and fix the stuff that isn’t - quickly, quietly and effectively.

“People are definitely at the tail end of their resilience.

"Reserves are in short supply.

"I’m always a little afraid of the #BeKind mantras as there is such a high percentage of online trolls who are horrific, but for me the important thing to tell you is to be kind to


“Don’t feel guilty about what makes you happy. Take the time to look after you.”