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Theatre, art, music and more on offer as summer approaches

(23 May 2019)

There is much to look forward to and get involved with as summer arrives. Professor Stuart Corbridge, our Vice-Chancellor, picks out some highlights.

After a few false starts it seems the weather has finally, grudgingly, turned its thoughts towards summer. All of which prompts me to use this column to talk about a few activities and events we have coming up at the University that you might enjoy and like to get involved with.

A month of music, theatre and art

Starting next week is the first Summer in the City Festival. Run between ourselves, Durham County Council and North East artists, this will be a month-long celebration of the best of our City’s theatre, music and art.

There will be over 25 theatre pieces, including a Durham student presentation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest at the Gala Theatre on Wednesday 26 June. We’re proud to have the most vibrant student theatre scene in the UK, with 28 theatre companies between them staging over 100 productions a year. Summer in the City is a great chance to sample the quality on offer.

Moving to art, we are opening up our Bailey colleges for guided art tours during the Festival. There will be creative workshops and events for all ages. Please don’t miss the ‘#Visible Women – Women artists from Durham’s collection’ exhibition at Palace Green Library. 

Finally, turning to music, there will be performances across the City, ranging from folk to symphony, chamber choirs to jazz bands. We’re especially excited to have our own home-grown opera star and University Chancellor, Sir Thomas Allen, performing alongside our students and staff in Durham Cathedral on Saturday 8 June. This is the first of two ‘Stage and Screen’ concerts featuring music from TV and film favourites. The second ‘act’ takes place in the Gala on Monday 10 June. Across the two nights, around 500 students will perform.

Enjoy our first Community Fun Day

Looking further ahead, on Saturday 22 June we’re staging our first Community Fun Day. Our staff, students and community partners run an extraordinary variety of inspiring activities. The Community Fun Day will bring as many of them as possible together in one place for an event that’s free and open to all to enjoy.

There will be something for all ages and interests, including live music and theatre, sports, dancing, hands-on science, arts and crafts, stalls and exhibitions. We hope that you’ll come along and have fun being curious and trying something new. Everything will be in a marquee on Palace Green, so we’ll be going ahead whatever the weather!

Contributing to Durham’s cultural offer is really important to us. That’s one reason we’ve committed to supporting the Lumiere light festival as it returns to the City this November. We’re investing £120,000 in sponsorship and partnering with Lumiere across cultural activity, volunteering and logistics. Details of some of the installations will be announced shortly.

Celebrating responsibly

Before our students can enjoy all that June has to offer, there’s the matter of exams and final deadlines. Our exam period is under way and runs until Friday 7 June, after which there are three weeks prior to graduation. Many of our students use this time to give something back through volunteering and helping local charities. But they will also, of course, be celebrating the end of their exams. As they do so, we’re reminding them to be respectful to their neighbours and to their peers who are still studying.

This is linked to our new Student Pledge, by which all Durham University students will make a personal commitment to the values that underpin life and study here. We’ll be saying more about this ahead of the new academic year, but in the meantime you can read more on our website.

I hope you get chance to enjoy the sunshine when it appears and to enjoy the opportunities on offer in the month ahead.

This article was first published in the Durham Advertiser.