After the 'shock of the new' last year, as the festival moved from its previous home of Cheltenham racecourse, there was much talk of how things would develop, and some worries about the financial viability of the venture. This year's event turned out to be noticeably and significantly smaller than the previous year, and it was interesting to see how things would begin to 'bed in' at the still relatively new site. There had been some criticism of the venue last year, so how were the concerns raised going to be addressed? How would a smaller festival 'work'?
I have to confess that, following my first visit to GB (for its 40th anniversary year), I was totally captivated by its ethos and intention: to provide a setting for issues of spirituality, theology, justice and peace to be discussed; to offer the best in contemporary art, literature, performance and music; and to offer spaces for people to explore ways of worship that were both innovative and challenging, and outside the norm of most people's weekly experience. In the light of that 'captivation' I signed up as an 'angel' - one who offers round the year financial support to the festival to enable it to carry on and provide these opportunities to explore the issues it does - so that, as best I could, I could enable this to continue.
|The Bright Field|
How did it work out this year? Well, the programme was leaner (and fitter?); there were fewer venues on site in which to catch the speakers and performers, in fact everything seemed smaller. Allied to this was a smaller number of stalls/ food outlets on site than previously - I was highly disappointed to miss my Goan Fish Curry this year (though the food I did purchase on site was excellent). The Angels' Lounge, though also smaller than previous years and at times quite crowded, still provided the much-needed facility for mobile phones to be charged, as well as the opportunity for conversations with friends old and new. And conversation was key this year, as soundings were taken of how the festival might develop in future years. It will be interesting to see how this develops.
|The Mud Bath|
Will I come next year? Well, like I said, it's not only traditional now, it's what we always do over August Bank Holiday weekend - just as traditional as plodging (love that word!) through mud by the end of the festival and frustratedly putting away a wet tent. Maybe things will change: maybe one year the sun will shine all the time on the Bright Field, but the companionship (sharing of bread) that one finds among God's people, as well as in the Arms of Jesus (!) will always be one of the biggest draws for me. It may be 4-5 hours drive each way, but Greenbelt: we'll see you next year! (probably)