The success of last year’s Arts Week was clearly not enough for the students and committee of St Catz: this year, the event has been upgraded to ‘festival’ status, and not without good reason.
Following on from the workshops, talks and cultural events of 2014, Catz has elected two arts reps to expand the programme to include everything from Indonesian batik printing to stand-up comedy from the Revue, films with live orchestral accompaniment to architectural tours of the college, all from 4th-11th May, aka second week of Trinity.
The week begins with a Monday launch night in Catz bar, featuring stand-up from members of the Oxford Revue, before Tuesday’s talk from artist Lucy Lyons, a lecturer in drawing research and painting at City & Guilds whose sensitive and tactile drawings have aided medical research in areas such as bone disease. Whilst the combination of art and medical science promises to be compelling, those more interested in film and music will doubtless be drawn to the later screening of four short films with a live musical accompaniment from the Catz Orchestra, with additional talks given by the directors.
The week will continue in a poetic vein on Wednesday, with a writers’ workshop given by playwright David Rudkin, a Catz alumnus whose work has been staged by the RSC and Royal Opera House since the 60s, and a live evening performance by the young poets of the Burn After Reading spoken word collective, described online as “the spoken-word and live poetry event of the year, with a line-up of some of the most experienced and celebrated young poets of the capital, including the Young Poet Laureate of London, Aisling Fahey, and runners up for this title.”
Thursday sees acclaimed installation artist David Stevens speak, before an evening performance and workshop given by Oxford’s very own Broad Street Dancers. The Oxford theme continues into Friday, when the Alternotives will perform in the Catz ‘amphitheatre’, which despite being Arne Jacobsen’s vision of a modernist paradise of slab concrete hidden round the back of a library nonetheless represents an exciting and underused performance space.
Three of the festival’s most exciting events follow on Saturday – after a batik printing session in Catz, a promenade performance of an as-yet unrevealed production will take place in the college gardens and along the river, before a nighttime immersive screening of another secret film. Beginning at sundown, the event is described online only as “not designed for the light-hearted, offering a chilling experience exploring the genre of Horror with the iconic film whose distinctive style pushed the boundaries between nightmare and reality.”
The week of events is capped off with a somewhat-less-terrifying tour of the college itself, led by art historian and Fellow Gervase Rosser. In what seems like the perfect antidote to Finalist or Prelim blues, the Sunday afternoon will focus on the architecture of Oxford’s most contentious college.
Speaking to Cherwell, festival organiser Lucy Byford said, “It’s such a great opportunity to organise something completely diverse that covers so many different areas of the arts. It’s very important that all the events are free and open to everyone – we want people to enjoy themselves and all the talent on offer. Catz Arts Festival is going to be unlike anything done in college before.” If the week turns out to be even half what it promises, we’re inclined to agree.
Catz Arts Festival takes place from 4th-10th May, with all events in or around St Catherine’s College. All events are free. The festival Facebook page can be found here.