By Katrina ffiske

The eight Fest West, which started yesterday and runs until March 2, is in full swing.

Wiltshire Creative venues Salisbury Arts Centre and Salisbury Playhouse have teamed up with The Pound Arts Centre, Corsham and Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge, to present some of the most interesting arts from the South West.

Companies and artists from Bristol, Devon, Somerset and Wiltshire all take part, including local playwright Barney Norris and award-winning choreographer James Wilton

Fest West is a pan-arts celebration of new work from across the South West. Pan -arts includes: theatre, dance, circus, music visual art and film.

Valley News was interested to hear the history behind Fest West and we talked Jo Newman, Wiltshire Creative Assistant Director.

How did Fest West start?
Eight years ago, Gareth Machin, artistic director of Salisbury Playhouse wanted to give theatre in the South West a voice on the National stage. Bringing together 10 theatre shows from the South West, Fest West was born.

It has grown and from there and grew even larger with the merger of Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge, and The Pound,Corsham. Wiltshire Creative is the main producer behind the event, with the Arts Centre being the hub of the event.

How do you select the acts?
We form a selection panel: 50% of the acts are curated and 50% are by application. From May to August last year, we asked people to fill in a basic form to applyand we chose the acts from there.

How would you describe Fest West?
It is the closest thing to the Edinburgh Festival you can get in Salisbury. Some days there are four performances and we want people to enjoy wandering from the Playhouse to the Arts Centre and have a whole evening, or day’s entertainment.

On Friday, March 1, To The Lighthouse is at The Salberg. A solo expressionist performance representing the theme of solitude using an unusual material – PVC. Walk across to the Arts Centre and enjoy an evening of the South West’s Best Music Talent. We have partnered with The Chapel so people can go to it afterwards.

Where is the hub of Fest West?
The ticket office and all information is at Salisbury Arts Centre. It will be the social meeting place with caterers serving vegan and vegetarian food. The artists will rehearse in spaces in the centre so that people can come and watch and join in.

Does Fest West have an special ticket offers?
We offer various passes; for example, an Industry Festival Pass for £30. Buying a pass means you can go to things you might not do otherwise, and see as much as you can fit into the two weeks.

Phone Ticket Sales on 01722 320333 or visit www.wiltshirecreative.co.uk for more information.