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Plea for funds for Halesworth festival

PUBLISHED: 16:06 27 March 2008 | UPDATED: 07:17 01 August 2010

AN urgent appeal for sponsorship from local businesses to ensure the future of Halesworth's HighTide Festival went out this week from top Hollywood star Bill Nighy.

AN urgent appeal for sponsorship from local businesses to ensure the future of Halesworth's HighTide Festival went out this week from top Hollywood star Bill Nighy.

He believes it could become one of the most important festivals in the calendar - but it needs the right financial backing and he is hoping there are local companies prepared to put in money towards the £30,000 needed to ensure it goes ahead in May.

He believes Suffolk's promising new theatre and filmmakers' festival is worthy of that support. The star of films such as Love Actually, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Constant Gardener, who has lived in Suffolk for 25 years, who is the festival's patron, said it had the potential to become one of the world's greatest platforms for new writing talent. But he said it was facing an “emergency” in its second year through a lack of cash and needed to raise £30,000 to ensure this year's showcase - due to be held in May - went ahead as planned.

The festival is designed to premiere new plays annually to give emerging writers a chance to establish themselves in the industry and produce new work.

More than 1,000 people turned out for last year's inaugural festival, held at the Cut in Halesworth, and the event gained widespread media coverage nationally.

Mr said: “The extraordinary success it had, given the first year, was one of the most satisfying things to ever happen to me in my professional life; the fact that Suffolk is somewhere I have lived for 25 years and is very close to my heart, the fact that it's outside London and it's good that major things of this kind do occur occasionally outside the capital, and the fact that it happens somewhere as beautiful as Suffolk has encouraged people to support it.

“There is no question why it should not become one of the most important festivals in the calendar.

“We need new writing. We need young, modern, new talent and attitudes and outlooks and commentaries on the world around us. It is meat and drink to us.

“We need something outside of the huge media conglomerates.”

This year's festival, which will showcase four full-length plays, is due to get under way in six weeks time but organisers say they need to raise £30,000 to deliver the festival promised.

They are appealing for a handful of Suffolk businesses to invest between £3,000 and £5,000 to ensure HighTide, which also has Sir David Hare, Sally Greene and Sinead Cusack as patrons, can grow into the cultural event it should - and put the county on the map.

Mr Nighy said: “It is such a great coup for the county if it became established. It would shame the rest of the country.

“We have all supported it to some degree but finally it has to support itself. Rather than asking for a lot of money the idea is we ask for a small amount of money from lots of individuals.

“There are very few places where new writers and actors and directors can introduce themselves. To have something like HighTide is very important. It's difficult to break through and get attention.”

Any business or individual able to contribute to the festival should contact Mr Hodges on 0207 5209092 or email sam@high tidefestival.

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