Barnaby Festival

Barnaby Festival began in 2010, and within a few years was credited with triggering a cultural renaissance in Macclesfield:

2023: This was the first in-person Parade since 2018 along with a Community Visual Art trail, Listening Tent and the introduction of the Barnaby Platform which highlights the incredible local events and creative activities.  See the 2023 report here.

2022: Barnaby AIR (Artist in Residence) was a year long arts-based consultation programme culminating in June ’22 supported by Macclesfield Town Council and aimed to work with local partners, communities, artists and businesses to co-create art in the public realm that can help Macclesfield Town Centre recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. See the 2022 report here.

2021: Barnaby Bright was a collection of midsummer events running between 17 -27 June ’21, supporting the artistic, creative and cultural life of the town and included:

  • Presence, a newsite-specific commission from internationally acclaimed artist Liz West
  • Macc Assemble, a covid19-safe response to the traditional Barnaby parade working in partnership with IDST! and Flownamix;
  • Music MASH was a music industry masterclass programme produced by Brighter Sound with Mash Guru.
  • a performance and installation from Simon Buckley (Not Quite Light) that culminated from 18 months work in the Macclesfield Forest.
  • Alongside A Midsummer Nights Queen, a drag cabaret evening, a Spoken Bar and an arts and crafts market.

2020: See Barnaby Differently.  While we weren’t able to deliver the Festival as normal due to the pandemic, we were delighted to announce that a reimagined digital programme launched over the weekend of June 20 & 21 2020.  Our local communities came together (at home and online) to bring us the Homemade Parade; full of at-home creative making, home and garden ‘floats’. Abi Gilmore interviewed artist and photographer Simon Buckley who had visited Macclesfield Forest for the past year, exploring the forest at first and last light with Our Future is Ancient. Marc Jackson taught how to create your own Funny Vision in 2 lively online drawing workshops.  In August Sharon Ginnis, Writer & Tutor, brought us a Storymaking online workshop programme and Peter Duncan, Circus Trainer, joined us for his Circus Skills online workshop programme

2019: Visionary community-led programme development is the focus for 2019, in preparation for Barnaby’s 10th birthday in 2020 (with the theme of Vision). Supported by Cheshire East and Macclesfield Town Council, and building on the legacy of previous Community Engagement and Research & Development work, a participation programme is creating new capacity and co-production with young and old from all backgrounds and abilities in and around the town – reflecting on the past and seeing into the future. We are delighted to work with our partners on legacy projects, such as the forthcoming work with the National Trust and Laura Ellen Bacon, and to support Macclesfield arts partners Silk Heritage Trust in West Park Museum and Macclesfield’s inaugural LIT Festival.

2018: Barnaby 2018 celebrates Roots / Routes with the bigger, greener, prouder Parade than ever before; a Women’s Town strand, debating gender politics 100 years after (some) women’s suffrage; and our very own Barnaby Tap bar, with support from Five Clouds and Red Willow breweries. Arts commissions included Zara Hussain’s mesmerising ‘Invisible Threads’ supported by the Granada and Aziz Foundations. Hundreds enjoyed exciting parkour performances, storytelling with Jan Blake and townscape arts trail as part of the Community Engagement and Outreach programme funded by the Taylor Family Foundation. Partnership work with close Barnaby friends FutureEverything and SHIFT continued excellent arts engagement, with Matt Rosier’s work 108 Steps celebrating our unusual built heritage. Barnaby 2018 Evaluation Summary

2017: The festival successfully secures a grant from the Arts Council of England to lead a research and development programme. The initiative features 11 artists who will create projects for the 2018/2020 festivals collaborating with different community groups in Macclesfield. Happenings will take place across the town and its hinterland in Spring.  A new Community and Engagement post is created to support this programme.

2016: Barnaby smashes box office records with 14 shows sold out prior to opening and an 88% attendance. The festival’s first ever performance commission La Lune produced by Wild Rumpus takes place over 8 days to great acclaim, The Gimp Twister Music Lounge showcases 18 emerging musicians to over 8,000 people, Backwallgate Books extends for three months after festival to create Macclesfield’s first shared library, a ‘Love Letter to Macc’ written during festival is presented to town for permanent display, homes become festival venues for the first time and more community groups take part in the 2016 programme. Barnaby 2016 Evaluation Summary

2015: Barnaby becomes biennial so organisers can consolidate and develop the Festival creatively.  With Arts Council England funding the first professional Festival Director is recruited.  Barnaby is a beacon for the arts in Cheshire East and Macc’s new Heritage and Culture Partnership.

2014: Visual Arts open and a new Music Fringe weekend closes a fortnight of activities.  Commissioned art in heritage spaces gains critical attention including Owl Project at Paradise Mill.  Visitors numbers grow to 13,000, a quarter from outside Macclesfield.  The Festival is instrumental in the development of a Heritage and Culture Strategy. Barnaby 2014 Evaluation Summary

2013: Barnaby grows to 17 days. Christ Church is transformed with headliners and Peter Hook plays Joy Division in Macclesfield for the first time. The parade team form a new charity Macclesfield Community Artspace. The iMacc Youth Club is established, inspired by Barnaby.

2012: The Festival grows to four days, the Art Trail launches, participation soars. The Roe-naissance Project is established to find a new life for Christ Church. ‘Loominus’ music festival, run by and for young people is born. Barnaby leads the Heritage and Culture committee of Make It Macclesfield.

2011: Barnaby celebrates Macclesfield’s 750-year anniversary. The Festival sparks a regular Comedy Club and fortnightly Speakeasy.  Make it Macclesfield CIC is inspired to support the creation of Winterfest.

2010:  The ‘Barnaby’ tradition is put back in the town’s psyche and lexicon with a reinvented parade and live events in disused and heritage buildings like Christ Church. An outdoor food and drink market, the Barnaby Feast, is a sell-out success and leads to the launch of the monthly Treacle Market.

Parade 2023

image by Flownamix

Presence by liz west

image by Travelling Simon

Our Future is ANCIENT

image by Simon Buckley

Photos below by Simon Brown, Matt Davenport, Teneight Studio & Fiona Bailey

Kiosk 2016