New patron for Swaffham festival

New Swaffham Visual Arts Festival Patron Tony Abel (centre) with Festival committee chairman Stephen Ward (left) and Swaffham Rotary Club president David Morris
New Swaffham Visual Arts Festival Patron Tony Abel (centre) with Festival committee chairman Stephen Ward (left) and Swaffham Rotary Club president David Morris

A local businessman with strong family links to Swaffham is to succeed Baroness Shephard of Northwold as the patron of the town’s Visual Arts Festival.

Tony Abel is new patron of the event, now in its eighth year and organised each October by Swaffham Rotary Club. His company, Abel Homes, is again principal sponsor of the month-long celebration of art in West Norfolk.

The climax will be a three-day selling exhibition in Swaffham Assembly Rooms of works of art and craft. Running from October 27-29, the exhibition will feature up to 50 artists, with around 300 artworks for sale, as well as a range of ceramics, glass, jewellery and woodturning by local craftspeople.

Rotary Club president David Morris said: “We are delighted to welcome Tony as our new patron. Tony and his wife Maggie are keen supporters and Abel Homes has been a generous sponsor over the past five years.

“As well as providing financial support to make the festival possible, Tony, his family and his company have provided marketing expertise and help in kind, enabling us to grow the festival over the years and raise more money for good causes.

“Since inaugurating the festival we have been able to distribute nearly £30,000 to charities supported by the Rotary Club.”

Tony commented: “We have been delighted to help Rotary develop the festival, and to continue our support. I am honoured to be invited to be the festival patron, and I look forward to Swaffham once again being put on the artistic map in October.”

The festival’s organisers are aiming to celebrate the wealth of visual art activity in Swaffham and its surrounding area, provide a promotional service to artists in West Norfolk and to raise money for mainly local charitable causes.

In the past the festival has included art history, architecture, film, photography, fashion, textiles, automobile design, ceramics and garden design in its programme, as well as art master classes and demonstrations.

This year will be the eighth year that the festival has taken place in its present form. In 2010 The Rotary Club of Swaffham added a programme of events to the annual art exhibition which it had been running for the previous 15 years.

The 2017 Swaffham Visual Arts Festival runs throughout October. The full programme will be announced at the end of the month. More details at www.swaffhamvisualartfestival.co.uk