Communities come together in Celebrating AstleyFest

In February 2018, The Philip Astley Project held an open call for artists, schools and community groups to take part in AstleyFest 2018, a new outd-

oor festival in Newcastle-under-Lyme to celebrate the life and legacy of Philip Astley – Father of the Modern Circus. Staffordshire-based organisations were encouraged to apply for up to £1,000 for materials, artist fees and volunteer expenses to be used in the designing and making of flags or banners inspired by Philip Astley.

The four applicants secured funding were; Entrepreneurs Network, Emmaus Potteries and Furniture Mine, YMCA North Staffordshire, and Letting in the Light. They have been working in the community with organisations such as Belong Heritage Gallery and Blackfriars School. Each have been using their own unique design and production methods for the AstleyFest flags which will be used in a parade from Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre to Lyme Valley Park, the site of AstleyFest, on Saturday 4th August 2018.

At the festival itself, a presentation space will house the completed flags. The people who designed and made the flags will share their stories with festival-goers, explaining how the flag was made, and giving background detail on the aspect of Astley’s life they have chosen as inspiration for their work.   By collaborating to create a new flag, local people will learn more about Philip Astley, his life and legacy whilst developing new skills such as design and production methods.

Tom Edwards from the Entrepreneurs Network, Stoke-on-Trent:

The workshops were loads of fun and it was great to teach people a new skill. The process of making them really lent itself to screen printing.

Historically, theatres and circuses have promoted their shows using parades and processions through town which spread the word about the exciting entertainment to come.  As well as music and costume, these processions often used colourful flags and banners to catch the eye and attract attention to encourage people to visit the circus.

AstleyFest will be a brilliant day out for the whole family, children of all ages will love clowning around and trying their hand at circus skills. There will also be the New Vic Theatre’s first performance of Roll Up, Roll Up, a heartwarming brand-new show developed with local writers, performers and choir members.  


In 2018, The Philip Astley Project has commissioned Appetite and PH Productions to deliver AstleyFest. The Philip Astley Project is managed by Staffordshire University on behalf of a steering group of arts, heritage, statutory and educational organisations. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, and sponsorship from businesses based in Newcastle-under-Lyme, local people can get involved in workshops, talks, an exhibition, and performances to celebrate Philip Astley in his home town.

Find out more information here.









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