Climate change to be hot topic at Bury St Edmunds’ first ever Festival of Ideas event

Mark Ereira-Guyer, one of the organisers of Bury's first Festival of Ideas
Mark Ereira-Guyer, one of the organisers of Bury's first Festival of Ideas

Climate change is to become a hot topic in May as prominent writers, artists, comedians, politicians, poets and thinkers descend on Bury St Edmunds.

A host of performances, discussions, debates and extended interviews are being planned as part of the town’s first ever Festival of Ideas, being staged at community sites and entertainment venues across Bury from May 22-24.

The festival pilot, which was inspired by a recent meeting of the newly-established Suffolk Green House think-tank, aims to explore the ideas that shape people’s lives and environments, focusing particularly on climate change.

Cllr Mark Ereira-Guyer, leader of Suffolk’s Green and Independent Group, said: “We’re looking for people to think about their individual responses to climate change, which is upon us - there’s no doubt about that, and it’s about us in the town having some thoughtful activities and events that can engage people in communities, groups and organisations.”

A planning group has now been set up and organisers are hopeful the free-to-attend three-day festival - expected to be funded by councillors’ locality budgets and Suffolk’s new Empowering Communities Fund - will coincide with the last weekend of the popular Bury St Edmunds Festival, which is due to celebrate its 30th year next year.

“We’re looking for ideas from all sorts of people about what they might want to do,” said Cllr Ereira-Guyer, appealing for businesses and individuals to start thinking creatively about how they could get involved.

The proposal is already being met with support from a number of influential people and organisations in Bury, including St Edmundsbury cathedral, West Suffolk College, Suffolk County Councillors Mark Ereira-Guyer and Sarah Stamp, and Geoff Barton, headteacher of King Edward VI School.

The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, said the cathedral was planning to host a ‘popular’ speaker on Friday (May 22) and ‘some kind of youth event’ on the Sunday (May 24).

“It’s going to be really exciting engaging young people of all ages across all sorts of venues in the town,” she said, adding that having a ‘fringe festival’ run alongside the Bury Festival would create a ‘real sense of excitement and edge to the town’.

Cllr Stamp, who is also St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s cabinet member for heritage, arts and culture, said: “I’m really excited at the prospect of the festival and am looking forward to working closely with the group to make sure the event is a success.”

Cambridge, York and Bristol are among places to already host Festival of Ideas events, though on a larger scale to that being proposed for Bury.

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