Newsletter Sign up
Mobile Menu

Stratforward welcomes new BID manager

Jun 2014

The new manager of Stratforward Business Improvement District (BID) has been announced.

Karen Wild joined Stratforward on Monday, 2nd June at the start of the BID’s second, five-year term and will take responsibility for delivering the plans voted for by businesses last September.

Having previously worked with local authorities in Colchester and Bolton, where she established a scheme offering similar services to a BID, Karen advised city centre initiatives in London, Belfast and Carlisle.

She also worked with retailers in the fashion industry for 13 years, developing a clear understanding of what businesses want and need to be happening and how best to deliver it.

Karen said her first priority will be to meet with members and work with them to find out how they would like to see the BID 2 projects delivered.

She will also meet with the heads of services, including Stratford District and Town Councils.

Karen said: “Top of my list is to get up to speed, find out where things currently stand and engage with businesses.

“I’m excited to really get to grips with the BID 2 projects and establish the best and most efficient way in which to deliver these in partnership with our member businesses.

“I’ve met a couple of independents so far and had a fantastic response. They’ve been very, very supportive and I’m looking forward to working closely with all of our members over the next five years.”

Maria Warters, chairman of the BID, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Karen into the role of BID manager.

“Her experience in town centre management, working with the private sector and running her own business, can only mean great things for the delivery of our exciting plans, hugely benefitting our members businesses in growing trade for the town as a whole.”

For more information about Stratforward, visit, email or call 01789 292718.

Town Trust brings stories of Stratford-upon-Avon back to life

May 2014

The memories and experiences of some of Stratford’s most recognisable residents and unsung heroes, with a combined life in the town of more than 600 years, will be made public for the first time during this year’s Stratford-upon-Avon Arts Festival.

Created from recorded interviews and conversations with people from different social backgrounds, present situations and future possibilities, the collection forms the Stratford Listening Project, which aims to create a reminiscence soundscape of society, business and culture in the town from 1940 to the present day.

Funded by the Stratford Town Trust and in keeping with its aim to bring the community together, the stories were shared by Escape Community Arts with school pupils, community groups and arts organisations, who have used them as inspiration to create visual representations of the stories they have heard.

During the Stratford-upon-Avon Arts Festival, which runs from 22nd May to 1st June, the Stratford Listening Project will be made public for the first time as the recordings are posted online and an exhibition of these visual representations is held in Town Square.

Ian Parkes, the project’s director and organiser of the Stratford-upon-Avon Arts Festival said that while the project is now being made public, its current form is just the beginning and can be easily added too.

He said: “The legacy of the Stratford Listening Project is simply that. Listen to the stories of the people around you and capture them before they are lost.

“The project has already connected people from many different backgrounds and varying ages and has the ability to continue to do so for many years to come. We have a history and story to be proud of in Stratford and this must be recorded and archived for generations to come.

“We are very grateful to the Town Trust for funding this amazing project and the artists and students who were inspired to create the accompanying artwork based on these fascinating stories. Without the Town Trusts’ support of incredible projects such as this, they simply wouldn't be possible.”

The Stratford Listening Project exhibition will run from 24th May to 1st June, and will be accompanied by several related events during the festival, including Songs from the Listening Project,  ‘Make Do and Mend’ Toy Making Workshop and ‘Recreate the High Street’ Model Making Workshop.

For full details on these events, and a full line-up of the Stratford-upon-Avon Arts Festival, visit


Traffic-free Festival of Motoring pulls in record crowds

May 2014

Thousands of visitors filled the streets of Stratford to enjoy a celebration of all-things automotive as the second Stratford Festival of Motoring made a triumphant return to the town this bank holiday weekend.

Footfall figures in the town centre were up 10 per cent on Monday compared to last year’s already record bank holiday figures, as people flocked in to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the spectacle of more than 200 classic and specialist cars on display.

This year, organisers arranged for many of the roads in the town centre to be closed off to traffic on Sunday and Monday, allowing exhibitors more space to display their vehicles, and visitors room to enjoy the event to the full.

Crowds gathered in the sunshine to wave on the event’s highlight – a cavalcade of dozens of unique cars dating back more than 100 years, from stunning supercars to vintage classics as it drove a leisurely route from Bridge Street through to High Street.

Leading the spectacle was the Bard Car – the imaginative creation designed by young people from the Escape Community Arts project, to mark the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth.

As well as admiring the variety of unique and beautiful cars on show, visitors were able to experience the thrill of ‘off-roading’ for themselves, thanks to Land Rover Experience Gaydon, which bought its unique Terrapod to Rother Market.

Queues of people filled the market, to take on the state-of-the-art, mobile, man-made track, which enables drivers to experience the all-terrain ability of the Land Rover vehicle range, while budding young car enthusiasts joined in the motoring fun with the Rebel Replicas, a selection of battery-operated scale models of Land Rover Vehicles.

Also a resounding success was the new Blossom Trail run, which took drivers on a picturesque route through the Vale of Evesham and its orchards, as well as the Test Hills Run, a shorter route around some of the steepest hills south of Stratford, combined with a treasure hunt, to test participants’ concentration skills.

Event organiser, Adrian Grubb, from Stratforward, said that closing off the roads in the town centre had transformed this year’s event.

“Last year’s inaugural event was a great success, but this year’s decision to stop traffic coming through had a frankly amazing effect on the atmosphere – the sense of enjoyment and freedom to wander around freely was fantastic,” he explained.

“In fact, the numbers we have don’t do it justice – our footfall counters only record people on the pavements, but due to road closures, more people were on the streets, so I’d estimate the visitor numbers were actually much higher.”

He added: “A number of town centre business owners commented on how buzzing the town was and how people were staying longer in the centre – we even had unanimous applause from the crowd when asking if they enjoyed the traffic-free event – you can’t get better than that.”

Fellow organiser, Tony Merrygold, managing director of Shakespeare Country, said: “We are delighted with this year’s event – everyone I have spoken to has only positive things to say about it.

“It drew in people of all ages and interests, from a newly-married couple making sure they visited before setting off on honeymoon, to a family of three brothers – one who came all the way from Surrey just to be here.”


Shakespeare honoured with his very own set of birthday wheels

Apr 2014

As the town of Stratford-upon-Avon celebrates the 450th birthday of its most famous son, William Shakespeare, the Stratford Festival of Motoring is honouring the Bard in its own unique way.

With just over a week to go until this year’s festival on Sunday, 4th and Monday, 5th May, organisers have awarded Escape Community Arts with £500 to design the Bard car – a car Shakespeare would have driven.

The car takes inspiration from Shakespeare’s time and features a half-timbered design with a modern day twist, including Shakespeare’s characters and the famous Yorick Skull.

It has been designed by young people, aged between eight and 21, who take part in Escape’s Youth Volunteer Programme every Saturday.

The group will also be getting some help from the Men’s Shed group as Stratford’s older gents to finalise the design, using their wood working skills to help finish the construction.

The Bard car will lead this year’s Cavalcade during both days of the festival. Featuring dozens of unique cars, the Cavalcade will start in Bridge Street at around midday and make its way at a steady pace through Waterside and Old Town, Church Street, Chapel and High Street.

Visitors to the festival will also be given the opportunity to take part in a unique experience as Land Rover Experience Gaydon, which is part of JLR, bring their off-road experience, the Terrapod, to Rother Market.

The Terrapod is a state-of-the-art mobile man-made track which gives visitors the chance to experience the unique all-terrain ability of the Land Rover vehicle range.

Budding young car enthusiasts will also have the opportunity to be introduced to the driving experience thanks to the Rebel Replicas, a selection of battery-operated scale models of Land Rover vehicles.

The family-friendly festival will also feature a bouncy castle, go-karting , face-painting and craft activities in Town Square.

Returning to the festival this year are two ‘runs’  - The Test Hills Run, which this year takes a different, slightly shorter route and includes a treasure hunt, while new for 2014 is The Evesham Blossom Trail, making for a beautiful run through the Warwickshire and Worcestershire countryside.

For more information about the Stratford Festival of Motoring, including the full line-up and a list of road closures, visit

Shakespeare, Shakers and the Swingin' Sixties come together for Stratford-upon-Avon Arts Festival

Apr 2014

Shakespeare, Shakers and the Swingin’ 60s come together to form the eclectic line-up of Fringe Theatre during this year’s Stratford-upon-Avon Arts Festival.

The live performances kick-off with one of Shakespeare’s best-loved tragedies, Othello, as part of the Bard’s 450th birthday celebrations.

Returning to the Attic Theatre for two nights on 24th and 25th May following its regional tour, Othello is the dark and brooding tale of the Moor of Venice, whose world is brought crashing down by his villainous Ancient Iago. 

Sure to be a highlight of this year’s Fringe Theatre is ShakespeareWallah, which comes to The QE Hall Shakespeare Birthplace Trust all the way from Mumbai from 24th May to 1st June.

Also part of Shakespeare’s birthday celebrations, ShakespeareWallah is a tribute to the man himself by Salim Ghouse. “Wallah” is an Indian suffix which refers to a person whose work has become one with his identity.

As an old actor-clown reminisces about life and art after his Swan Song, in this show after the last show, an inspired performance of a lifetime unfolds unwittingly before an empty auditorium.

During the Festival, the Attic Theatre will play host to a wide-range of performances, including John Godber’s hilarious Shakers – told from the point of view of ladies working all night in a cocktail bar – from 25th May to 1st June, while Godber’s Bouncers returns from 24th to 31st May, following last year’s sell-out success. Both shows are presented by Tread the Boards.

The family-friendly Back in Time For Breakfast, presented by Munchkins and Monsters Theatre Company, also runs at the Attic Theatre from 24th May to 1st June, telling the story of Millie, a young girl whose family live and work on a secluded lighthouse island, who one night makes a wish on a shooting star that she can travel and have lots of exciting adventures …

Completing the line-up at the Attic Theatre is The Last Unicorn, – a love story between a care home worker who believes she’s a unicorn and a glamorous American singer – Going Back: Female Icons of the 1960s - a musical journey reliving the glitz and glamour of the decade’s singing superstars from Dusty Springfield to Diana Ross – and Past Recall, by Clive Depper, a play which explores the importance of memories and shows the tragic consequences when they are tampered with.

Rounding off the Fringe Theatre line-up is Is There Life by Ian Harris at The Bear Pit Theatre. The damaged Sergeant Dangerfield finds himself burdened with another problem – his own personal prisoner of war, who is determined not to make life easy for his insane enemy. 

Accompanying the live performances will also be a host of Fringe Theatre workshops and events.

The Stratford-upon-Avon Arts Festival is a multidisciplinary arts festival welcoming names from the world of comedy, film, visual arts and fringe theatre.

A full line-up and more information on the festival can be found at  

Stratford-upon-Avon Arts Festival celebrates local music talent and national rising stars

Apr 2014

The best of Stratford-upon-Avon’s musical talent will be celebrated alongside the country’s rising stars during the town’s annual Arts Festival.

This year’s festival, which takes place between 21st May and 1st June, welcomes performances from the Stratford Folk Club, Unity Roots Productions, Stratford-upon-Avon Jazz Club and Orchestra of the Swan.

During the 10-day festival, free music events will take place at venues throughout the town, such as The Church Street Townhouse, Stratford-upon-Avon Picturehouse, The Bear Freehouse and Holy Trinity Church as well as ticketed performances at the new Stratford Arts House and The Chapel at Shakespeare No.1.

Ian Parkes, director of the Stratford-upon-Avon Arts Festival, said: “Stratford is lucky to be home to some incredible musical talent, but this is not enough by itself, without the promoters, venues and managers to put performances on, we wouldn’t have half of the musical events in Stratford upon Avon that we do.

“Music is something which always captures the hearts of Stratford’s residents and its visitors and this year’s offering will also aim to bring local and national stars to the fore.”

A host of rising stars from across the UK is scheduled to perform during the festival, including one of the Midlands’ most exciting new artists, Wes Finch, who performs a live show on Sunday, 1st June.

Tipped for greatness by BBC6 Music’s Tom Robinson and courted by the U.K’s major music labels, Wes has set to work on a new album with Mercury music prize producer Gerry Diver, the mastermind behind the albums of Sam Lee, Lisa Knapp and the Guardian 5* album The Hum by Tidow and O ‘Hooley.

Bank Holiday fun will be provided on Sunday, 25th May as Dave and his team at the Church Street Townhouse host The Peas, an incredible duo who use their musical skills and vocal magic to play some of your favourite songs in their own way. This great, fun evening is not to be missed with free entry.

The Stratford upon Avon Arts Festival supports young and emerging artists and appearing at the Stratford Folk Club are BBC Young Folk Award nominees David Gibb and Elly Lucas. This young, exciting folk duo plays a mixture of original and traditional folk music.

In the three short years since their 2011 nomination, the unstoppable duo has released two albums to critical acclaim and received extensive airplay on BBC Radio. Described by The Independent as “the future of folk”, David and Elly play at the Stratford upon Avon Folk Club on 21st May.

The Stratford upon Avon Arts Festival is a multidisciplinary arts festival welcoming names from the world of comedy, film, visual arts and fringe theatre.

More information on the festival can be found at  

Marshal opportunities for Stratford Festival of Motoring

Apr 2014

Organisers of the Stratford Festival of Motoring are looking for people to volunteer to marshal during the festival on Sunday 4th and Monday 5th May.

Marshals will be required to work a four-hour shift on either one or both days, depending how long they wish to volunteer for, with duties being mainly manning the road-closure barriers and handing out leaflets.

A contractor will be on site each morning to put out the barriers, but volunteer marshals would be required to help clear them away after the festival each day as the roads will re-open during the night.

Lunch will be provided in the form of a voucher, to the value of £10, to be used at a number of local shops.

Many of last year’s Marshals have already re-volunteered as they so enjoyed themselves, however, with a much bigger Festival, this year, we need yet more ‘have-a-go’ individuals!

For more information, contact Tony Merrygold at or call 07802 455 217.

For more information on this year’s Stratford Festival of Motoring, visit

Sponsor finances ‘Play Makers’ to help Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday Celebrations on Saturday 26 April 2014

Apr 2014

An urgent call is going out for welcoming, friendly, outgoing recruits to come forward and add an extra dimension to Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday Celebrations in his home town on Saturday 26 April 2014.

A major sponsor has come forward to help organisers of this year’s historic Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations in Stratford recruit special “Play Makers” to mirror the success that the world-famous ‘Games Makers’ brought to London 2012 Olympic Games.

Working with the celebration organisers, the owners of Geraud Markets UK, and their partners LSD Promotions Ltd believe the easily identifiable and engaging “Games Makers,” who acted as information points, were the unexpected success story of the Olympic Games as they helped people at the sporting venues around the Capital.

Training will be provided by Stratforward’s own Town Hosts as an extension of the existing tourist guide service, and it will be funded by a generous financial contribution from Geraud Markets UK, the company behind the prestigious award-winning markets in Stratford-upon-Avon. Armed with knowledge of the geography and logistics of the event, the Play Makers will bring this expertise to life at arrival points and on the streets of Stratford upon Avon.

The donation will pay for the training, their distinctive yellow and black – ‘Ask Me’ – polo shirts, refreshments and a newly designed leaflet guide which will be given to the thousands of additional visitors expected on Saturday 26th April to mark the 450th anniversary of his birth. 

“We know this year and 2016 - the 400th anniversary of his death – are going to increase footfall on what is already a very busy weekend for the town, said Sam Lloyd of Stratforward who will help train the new recruits.

“We have therefore been looking at how to welcome the extra guests in a warm and friendly way – just as the Games Makers did in London. They will serve as an extension of the work that the Town Hosts already perform – as the necessary eyes, ears and friendly faces welcoming the visitors to the town.”

“They will be deployed at strategic gateway points including the park & ride, railway stations and coach stops as well as around Rother Street market,  which will extend the current engagement activity and make everyone who comes to Stratford feel part of the festival celebration,” she added.

Val Harris, Project Manager for Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations, added: “Thanks to the generosity of Geraud Markets UK and their partners LSD Promotions Ltd, we can add this invaluable resource to this busy weekend of activity without burdening the tax payer.”

John Connolly for Geraud Markets UK, said: “Many people saw the enormous contribution of the Games Makers in London and we believe such a tour de force will help enhance what is already a major event in the Shakespeare calendar. Their deployment in and around the town and its gateways will direct footfall to the best vantage points to witness the Procession and the People’s Pageant as well as the numerous other activities Stratford has on offer that weekend”.


The organisers are looking for Stratford District residents of all ages who want to be involved in making this special event a success. It will be an added advantage if they already know the town well.

“We will be offering training and giving everyone clear responsibilities for the event. All will be wearing bright tee-shirts and positioned around the town to be welcoming and helpful,” said Sam Lloyd.

“We will be holding a training evening for interested parties to come along to,” she said.

The weekend is famous for the jubilant flag-waving crowds that will line the streets of the Elizabethan market town as actors, foreign diplomats and civic dignitaries join a 1,000-strong grand Birthday Procession through the streets on Saturday April 26 as the town – and the world – pays tribute to England’s most famous playwright and poet.

This will be followed by a community pageant where locals and spectators can join the throng of costumed players, musicians and creative groups celebrating this milestone anniversary.

Shakespeare is thought to have been born on 23 April 1564 and then died the same date 52 years later (1616), the day the country also celebrates its patron saint, St George.

Anyone interested in being a Play Maker can contact Sam Lloyd on 01789 268291 or via email at

Further information about the weekend can be found on

William Shakespeare's Big Birthday Cake! - Increasing footfall into your business using Shakespeare's Birthday Celebrations

Apr 2014

On Saturday 26 April Stratford's streets will be packed with people from near and far attending the Shakespeare's Birthday Celebrations

Free of any charge to you, this is an exciting opportunity for you to divert traffic into your premises and potentially increase your takings on the day.

To participate, all you have to do is depict one of Shakespeare's characters in your window and display outside the black and gold balloons you will be given to show your involvement.

You will also be given activity sheets to hand out and a number of William Shakespeare's 450th Birthday cupcakes packaged in individual clear plastic containers (supplied locally) to give to people in return for their completed activity sheet. The sheet will encourage entrants to visit participating businesses by listing them and characters to for them to match up.

You could simply put the character's name in your window or you could do something much more creative if you wish.

Stratford's Mayor will be judging the shop windows and deciding on a winner to receive a certificate and public acclaim.

We hope you will use this opportunity to your advantage and participate.

If so, please reply with the following information by Friday 11 April :

  • Which Shakespeare's character will be in your window on Saturday 26 April  -
  • How many cakes you wish to accommodate - they will be delivered on Friday 25 April in box trays of 12. n.b. We may need to limit the number depending on the level of interest

More information:

This project has been fully funded by WCC's Operation Footfall initiative through Stratforward which is extending the Shakespeare's 450th Birthday Cake theme to include a horse drawn giant model cake that is being decorated through Escape Community Arts workshops.

Stratford College staff and students are also producing 850 Shakespeare's 450th Birthday cupcakes for young procession participants to increase footfall by drawing them back with their families into the town centre to the collection point in Henley Street.

Please contact me or BID Town Host manager Sam Lloyd tel: 07860 753547 if you have any queries or would like to discuss any detail of the project.

Old meets new at the Stratford-upon-Avon Arts Festival

Apr 2014

Big name headliners and reminiscences of yesteryear combine to make up another jam-packed programme for the Stratford-upon-Avon Arts Festival 2014.

This year’s festival once again features well-known names in comedy, including Al Murray, Jason Manford and Milton Jones, classic films such as Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, plus a masquerade ball-themed screening ofLabyrinth headline the Outdoor Cinema, while stories archiving Stratford’s ever-changing history from 1940 to the present day will be exhibited in the Stratford Listening Project.

Supported by Stratford Town Trust and Warwickshire Action Reminiscence Project, the multi-disciplinary oral/aural reminiscence Listening Project engages with the people of Stratford to create a collection of recordings based on a series of interviews with people from different social backgrounds, present situations and future possibilities to create a reminiscence soundscape of society, business and culture in the town.

The project forms part of the festival’s Visual Arts Trail, which is curated by Escape Community Arts, and sees some 35 artists exhibiting their work in venues throughout the town including traditional exhibition spaces, shops and even the gardens of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Hall’s Croft.

The four-day Comedy Hullabaloo returns this year to kick start the festival on Thursday, 22nd May, welcoming comedians Ardal O’Hanlon, Roisin Conaty and a host of others to Stratford’s iconic RSC Courtyard Theatre.

As well as a great line-up of comedy acts, Tread the Boards are presenting a packed fringe theatre programme, which offers an array of performances at various venues including Goin' Back: Female Icons of the 1960s, the family show Back in Time for Breakfast and Shakespearewallah, a show flying in all the way from Mumbai, India.

The hugely popular outdoor river cinema returns this year, presented by Stratford-upon-Avon Picturehouse and Cimeworld, as do a host of live music performances to complete the festival’s eclectic line-up.

Last year’s event, the first held under its new guise of the Stratford-upon-Avon Arts Festival, saw footfall in the town increase by 41.8 per cent across the duration of the festival, as crowds flocked to see 100 performances held in 35 venues throughout the town.

Ian Parkes, organiser of the Stratford-upon-Avon Arts Festival, said: “We are thrilled to be able to bring another great line-up of acts across all sectors to Stratford.

“Last year’s festival was incredibly successful and we are looking to recreate that success again this year, while hopefully attracting new audiences to the town.”

For more information on the festival, or to book tickets, visit