A Brief history of Dart Music Festival:
The Dart Music Festival was started 20 years ago by Rob and Di Lyon (now Mayor of Dartmouth). It is an annual music event over three days, which was initially to help improve the length of the tourist season for the small riverside town of Dartmouth and its tourism based businesses.
We have over 100 acts performing in over 20 closely sited town venues. These include churches, restaurants and hotels. Our main area (centred around wonderful gardens and bandstand) is next to the river’s edge, surrounded with cafes and bars. There are open air street-based performances making for a constant buzz of enjoyment. Many of the musicians, both amateur and professional, are from the West Country but we strive to be inclusive and attract national and international acts.
We are a not-for-profit organisation and have formed a ‘Dart Music Foundation’ where young hopefuls can apply for grants to help with music lessons, equipment and other associated costs relating to their musical progression.
Alongside the tourism aspect, Dartmouth was in great need of a cultural boost to the calendar of events as the town lacked both a cinema and theatre. The first Festival captured the hearts of the residents, surprised visitors and brought together a diverse and hugely talented group of artists. They perform in venues as unique as an ancient Fort, the ramparts of old castle walls, a fisherman’s church, an 11c Church, an orchard, a naval college, the river and, of course, our Victorian Bandstand.
Historically, and as with most coastal towns, the season starts at Easter, and then builds up to the start of the children’s holidays in July. It was decided to hold the Festival at the beginning of May to increase visitors to the town and boost local businesses.
The unique premise of the Festival is to cover both contemporary and classical music and offer ‘free entry to all’ performances and workshops for both children and adults alike. All genres of acts are welcome to apply and there is a 20+ strong committee, all volunteers with a great cross-section of skills.
As well as the website, we have an email newsletter and our sponsors come from businesses and residents, and along with fundraising events and donations during the Festival, we manage to cover costs.
Our ethos ‘Music for All’, is at the heart of the Festival.