For most people Wednesday nights are just like any other, they’ll come home from work, play with their children, make some dinner, perhaps take the dog for a walk, watch a bit of TV and go to bed. Not so if you’re involved with SpectaculArts.
Founded by Sharon De Leonardis, one of the most passionate Bedfordians you’re ever likely to meet, SpectaculArts is a foundation that aims to bring local people together through arts, education and the richness of the diverse communities around Bedford.
The initial idea was to create a Bedford Carnival that will take place on 7 September in Bedford Park. While that event itself is growing, and promises to create something our town can be proud of, SpectaculArts has become so much more.
It’s grown to now help people from all walks of life learn new skills, highlight positivity in our local area and above all else celebrate the people that make Bedford a great place to live.
I went along to one of the Wednesday night meet-ups at their space, donated by Bedford Heights, that Sharon holds for volunteers helping her to organise the event.
Tue, 6 August 2019, 7pm – 9pm
Register your interest at Eventbrite.
While Sharon herself gives off enough energy to power a city, it’s clear she’s having an incredibly positive influence on the people around her.
“I’ve known Sharon since I was 10” says, Giorgia Lowe who’s choreographing and training young dancers for the carnival event. “As soon as she told me about SpectaculArts, I didn’t hesitate to get involved.
“I’m here to teach dance and develop a routine but it’s more about helping each young dancer grow as a person.
“Some have never danced before in their lives and we’ve got so many different people of different ages from different backgrounds having fun and gaining confidence.”
As someone who has about as much rhythm as a cardboard box, dance has never been something I’ve felt confident enough to do.
But, watching Giorgia with her ‘crew’, seeing the smiles on their faces as they get the moves right and the dance in perfect unison is nothing short of inspiring.
While I was there a young new dancer came along. Shy and a little sheepish, his parents stayed to watch.
There was clearly some apprehension but within minutes they were smiling and joining in, welcomed by the crew as one of their own. It was lovely to witness.
With Sharon’s background, she ran her own dance school for 12 years, and the carnival core of the event, dance was always going to feature highly on the proceedings but there is also so much more.
“SpectaculArts is about bringing the whole community together and having all the different groups in Bedford working together,” adds Simon Bedeau a volunteer committee member.
“We’re going to have locally made carnival costumes, music, street arts, poetry and food. Bedford is a very diverse town and we’re in a privileged position to have these communities working side by side, we need to celebrate that.”
And that’s the point. SpectaculArts is much more than just a group of people getting together to practice some dance moves and create a routine, even if those routines leave your jaw on the floor.
Its whole ethos is to promote an increased understanding of the cultural traditions of the various communities around Bedford, while also shining a light on the excellent individuals making a difference across the Borough.
While the whole town will join in with the Spectacularts carnival on 7 September in Bedford Park (get that date in your diary now), the event won’t be possible with more people helping out.
“There’s going to be something for everyone from the creative side of things to the practical roles that any event needs,” says Simon.
“It’s a Bedford thing by Bedford people for Bedford people and a celebration of all the things that Bedford has to offer.”
If you think you’ve got something to offer SpectaculArts from making costumes, helping with dance and music, event logistics, marshalling, admin, anything at all, then they are hosting a ‘final call’ event for volunteers on Tuesday, 6 August from 7pm at Bedford Heights [link].
Here you can learn more about the event and how you might be able to play as big a part as you like in creating a legacy for Bedford that we’re sure will run and run and run.
Bedford Independent is proud to be the media partner for SpectaculArts. As we progress closer to the event, we will be publishing a number of articles about the foundation to highlight the wider impact of their work.