Q&A: Rosemary Richards, director of the Grantham Gravity Fields Festival

Rosemary Richards received a hamper from the festival committee as a thank you for her effort.
Rosemary Richards received a hamper from the festival committee as a thank you for her effort.

Rosemary Richards is the festival director behind the recent Gravity Fields festival, which was centred on Grantham and its historic links to Sir Isaac Newton.

Rosemary talks to the Journal about the success of the event and how it can get bigger and better in the future.

What did you find were the biggest obstacles in organising the event?

The big challenge was the vision for the festival and what was really pleasing was working together with the district council and the people in the local area to see what they wanted to create.

What were your goals for the festival when you first set out?

We had technical goals but also this idea and notion of the festival really giving Grantham and the surrounding areas a better sense of place and what could be celebrated about the area.

We wanted there to be a sense of community with there being something in the festival calendar for everyone.

We always had to have an element where we looked to high levels of science, but we wanted it to be a science and arts and heritage festival with something for everyone, young or older, local or visitor.

That was our starting point for the Transformation of the Town as a night for everybody that everybody could appreciate.

What were your personal highlights?

The Transformation of the Town was a real highlight. It was just wonderful to see 10 to 15,000 people enjoying themselves - thousands of people enjoying the whole experience of being out in a town watching arts events, taking part and being really surprised by what they see - looking at a place in a new way, which is where the title of the evening came from.

But also the quality of the through-the-week events, the whole experience of the festival and the standard of the academics. We worked very hard to get that feeling of quality and our feedback suggests we succeeded.

What does the future hold for the Gravity Fields Festival?

Certainly there is willing there. Particular decisions have to be made but there certainly seems already to be a feeling that the festival should not be just a one-off and hopefully it will return in 2014.

One of the things commented on by the festival speakers is the uniqueness of a lot of what was offered.

The theme of Isaac Newton gives us a link with arts and heritage which offers a unique place that no-one else has. It’s an identification that is already here in Grantham and is not manufactured.

Do you hope to be involved again?

I would love to be involved again. The team I have worked with, we have loved the project. It’s drained us in many ways but we have come away with so many ideas for things that could happen again.

We wouldn’t want to repeat what we did, but hopefully we can continue to bring something that could be really important for Grantham and the whole South Kesteven area.

We have only scratched the surface in what we could do about Sir Isaac Newton.

Hopefully we can look into particular themes of his life and go into more depth to keep it fresh.