Banbury and Bicester College students showcase their art in We’re Here Now festival

Banbury College creative art students poromoting their summer show. From the left, Eva Bagy, Kate Tonner, Kelly Griffin and Rebekah Nash. NNL-161005-142836009
Banbury College creative art students poromoting their summer show. From the left, Eva Bagy, Kate Tonner, Kelly Griffin and Rebekah Nash. NNL-161005-142836009

A festival showcasing works by the area’s most exciting young arts talent is coming back to Banbury for a third year.

We’re Here Now features exhibitions, workshops, pop-up shops and community initiatives led by art and design students from Banbury and Bicester College.

This year’s festival follows the theme Make Our Event. It is supported by Flashop UK, a company run by town centre co-ordinators Neil Wild and Iain Nicholson, who have worked with the owners of empty shops in Parsons Street and Church Lane to provide exhibition and workshop space.

The festival runs over four parts, starting with an exhibition at 38 Parsons Street from May 19 to 26. The exhibition will be open every day except Sundays from 10.30am to 4.30pm.

The second part brings together work by students on higher and further education programmes in creative arts, graphic design and media. It runs from May 21 to June 4, at The Haven in Church Lane and will be open Wednesdays to Saturdays.

Part three continues at The Haven from June 11 to 25, showcasing the work of students on the foundation diploma in art and design. The exhibition will be open Wednesdays to Saturdays.

The final part transfers to the creative arts and media centres at Banbury and Bicester College in Broughton Road. Visitors are welcome to drop in to view students’ work during weekdays from June 22 to 29.

Throughout the run there will be a chance to take part in pottery, knitting and roller printing workshops at The Haven between May 31 and June 5. There will also be a chance to buy items from a pop-up shop at 38 Parsons Street from June 9 to 25.

Louise Williams, course leader for the foundation degree and BA (Hons) programmes in creative arts and design practice, said: “Our annual festival has gained momentum over the last three years and has now become an integral feature of the town’s creative and cultural calendar.

“We are delighted to be bringing our students’ work into the old town this year, to support the diversity of this traditional retail quarter. The initiative gives our students the opportunity to develop skills in organising a public exhibition as they near the end of their programmes. It also gives them a platform to showcase their work to a wider audience and understand the commercial realities of the creative industries.

“For local people, the festival provides opportunities to engage with the arts and view works across a range of mediums by some of the area’s most exciting young talent.”

Mr Wild added: “Bringing the arts into Banbury town centre creates a rich diversity that supports the area’s economic and cultural vitality. We have been working closely with the team from Banbury and Bicester College to source and secure appropriate spaces that will attract shoppers, visitors and arts enthusiasts alike. These pop-up shops will not only add to the offer of Banbury’s old town but will also offer young people a platform for their future careers in the arts.”