Worthing WOW is the brain child of local writer, producer and film maker Melody Bridges.
Melody explained: “In 2013 I produced a successful show called ‘Wilde about Worthing’. After that there were all these writers, actors and performers asking me – what are you going to do next?”
What she did next was create the first Worthing WOW festival in June 2014.
She said: “It was intended as a challenge to the creatives of Sussex to raise their game, be appreciated on a national level and as a way of raising the aspirations of our community.”
That very first festival was attended by nearly 3,000 adults and children; it encompassed 14 venues and 40 events over its eight days, and tapped a huge source of creative talent.
“People were genuinely inspired,’ said Melody. “Books were been created for the festival, films were made, poems were written. New plays were crafted.”
The following year, WOW 2015 focused on Jane Austen.
It was not until 1989 that it was discovered that the writer stayed in Worthing for several months in the autumn and winter of 1805, and later used her experiences as the background for her final, unfinished novel, Sanditon.
To celebrate the connection, in association with Community First and the Heritage Lottery Fund, WOW organised writers’ workshops and carriage rides, film events and historical walks, a concert, a family fun day, an art workshop and talks on Jane Austen in a Worthing context.
In May and June of 2016 some 10,000 people enjoyed the even bigger, even better WOW festival.
They attended film events and family fun days, writers’ workshops and poetry readings, and submitted their work to three competitions – flash fiction, writing for children and short films.
They enjoyed an anarchic evening with performance poet John Cooper Clarke and marvelled at a re-creation of a night in 1896, when audiences attended Worthing’s Pavilion Theatre for an evening of variety and film.
And after such richness, what next?
Next year’s festival – which will run from May 27 to June 11 – will concentrate on another major literary figure with connections to Worthing: Oscar Wilde.
It will be packed with exhibitions, events and activities inspired by and exploring Oscar Wilde’s stay in Worthing in the summer of 1894.
You can get a sneak preview of the trailer at www.worthingwow.co.uk.
If you’ve enjoyed the many events that WOW has brought you over the past four years, and if you’re looking forward to next year’s festivities, lend us your support to make WOW 2017 the biggest and best yet.
Worthing WOW is now a registered charity (Number 1166203). Friday, December 16 is Local Charities Day, so if you’d like to make a donation you can do so in lots of different ways.
To donate £10 just text WWOW17 £10 to 70070.
If you’re on Vodafone you can go to JustTextGiving, or you can visit www.worthingwow.co.uk and click the JustGiving link.
Corporate sponsors – we need you too! If your business would like to support the community work of WOW and benefit from exposure to our audience of 78,000 people, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how you can get involved.
And it’s not just money we want: there’s also a big role for volunteers. Worthing WOW relies on the hard work and enthusiasm of its many, many supporters.
If you’d like to get involved, email email@example.com
World of Words is written for creative writers by writers. If you like reading and writing, you’re in the right place!
Do you like to write? We want your poems and stories. Please write to this page and we will be happy to publish the best ones.
Have you had a book published? We’d like to hear all about it – please get in touch.
We have received poems and stories from writers who are as young as 7 and as young at heart as 99. This is your space to be creative - and remember, all the opinions expressed on the page are those of the individual writers, not of WOW.
To learn more about the page, or to submit items, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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