Swaledale Festival has announced the appointment of its first patrons.
Writer, lecturer and arts advocate Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason and antiques expert Ronnie Archer-Morgan have accepted the role, expressing their support and enthusiasm for the annual celebration of world-class music, arts and walking that takes place in the northern Yorkshire Dales.
Kadiatu and Ronnie are the festival’s two most recent ‘Reeth Lecturers’. Festival organisers say they share a vast experience of the arts and bring a wealth of skills and insight to the team.
Kadiatu came to the 2022 festival to tell her extraordinary story about raising seven ultra-talented classical musicians, many of whom have performed at Swaledale Festival over the years, including Isata, Braimah and Sheku in 2017 and 2019, and Jeneba in 2022.
Her memoir House of Music: Raising the Kanneh-Masons won the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Storytelling Award in November 2021. Kadiatu is a strong advocate for the benefits of regional music-making and accessibility. She writes and gives interviews around the UK on diversity in classical music, music education, issues of race and inclusion, literature and parenting.
“I am delighted to become a patron of Swaledale Festival,” Kadiatu said.
“This festival is close to my heart as several of my children have performed here over the years since 2017! I have been lucky enough to watch many of their concerts here as well as to give the Reeth Lecture myself in 2022.
“Swaledale is a vibrant, imaginative and inclusive festival, rooted in the community and committed to the importance of music, creativity and the performing arts. I am very proud to become a patron.”
Ronnie Archer-Morgan, the popular and hugely respected expert from the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, spoke about his remarkable life and 30 years of experience in the antiques trade at the 2023 Festival, where he moved and delighted the audience.
“Swaledale Festival is a creative phenomenon,” Ronnie said.
“I was blessed with an invitation to talk there and the reception I encountered was out of this world. Everyone was super helpful and conscientious. In the stunning setting of the Yorkshire Dales I was warmly greeted by a delightful and receptive audience for my Reeth Lecture. I am honoured to have been asked to become a Patron of this innovative and exciting festival which is so full of vitality.”
“We were all absolutely thrilled when they said yes,” said the festival’s artistic director Malcolm Creese.
“Gaining the support of two inspirational ambassadors like Kadiatu and Ronnie is a great endorsement of our work. I hope that their broad experience will help the Festival to flourish and potentially grow in new directions.
“It’s very exciting for the future.”
The award-winning Swaledale Festival, which was established in 1972 and is a registered charity, returns in 2024 from Saturday 25 May to Saturday 8 June, with a broad selection of the finest musicians and artists from Yorkshire, Britain and around the world.
There will be a large number of hands-on events such as workshops, walks and craft demonstrations, with a focus on participation, landscape and climate change.
The full programme will be shared in the new year at www.swalefest.org.