Banbury-based floating music venue secures funding to host ten-day festival

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A narrowboat that has been converted into a floating music venue has secured funding to hold a ten-day arts festival in Banbury this year.

The floating venue, named The Village Butty, received the funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Owned by couple Richard Guard and Anna Crockatt, the not-for-profit venue will play host to Tooley’s Arts Festival 2024 from Thursday October 3 until Saturday 12.

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Taking place at the historic Tooley’s Boatyard, the festival will coincide with Banbury’s annual Canal Festival.

Owner of the Village Butty at last year's Banbury Canal Festival Richard Guard.Owner of the Village Butty at last year's Banbury Canal Festival Richard Guard.
Owner of the Village Butty at last year's Banbury Canal Festival Richard Guard.

The couple was awarded the funding after staging the ‘Dry Dock ‘n’ Roll’ event, which featured three nights of live music in Tooley’s dry dock at last year’s canal festival.

Richard, who was the frontman in Banbury band Bone Idle and the Layabouts in the 1980s, said: “We are totally thrilled that Arts Council England has recognised our commitment to promoting great art in unique venues, and it’s brilliant that we can bring more fantastic music, theatre, comedy and art to Banbury and put it all on in Tooley’s awesome dry dock”.

Anna said: “Tooley’s dry dock is a truly magical place to enjoy the arts. Last year we had to do everything on a shoestring. This grant means we can be bigger, better, and bolder and make the very most out of the 255-year-old dry dock which is so rarely open to the public. We plan to transform it into the best venue in Oxfordshire for 10 nights of unforgettable top-quality entertainment.”

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The couple hopes that Tooley’s Arts Festival will become an annual event and an important date on the Banbury calendar.

The Village Butty's converted 1958 narrowboat Vanadium.The Village Butty's converted 1958 narrowboat Vanadium.
The Village Butty's converted 1958 narrowboat Vanadium.

Richard said: “Our stated aim is to ‘Increase the Overall Jollity of the Nation’ and we’ll be touring the canals this summer visiting the Braunston Historic Boat Rally and Cropredy festival doing that, so it is lovely that we can end our season with a big bang back in my home town.”

Anna said “Last year it was just three nights, this year it’s ten. Ideally, in the future, we’d like to collaborate with other venues and promoters in Banbury to get really cool stuff going on all over the place and create a real buzz around town.”

For more information about the Village Butty or Tooley’s Arts Festival, visit: https://www.villagebutty.com/