Barnaby Festival began in 2010 and within a few years was credited with triggering a cultural renaissance in Macclesfield:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 permeant display, homes become festival venues for the first time and more community groups take part in the 2016 programme. Our news feed contains more information
2017: The festival successfully secures a grant from the Arts Council of England to lead a research and development programme. The initiative features 10 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.
Photos by Simon Brown & Fiona Bailey