About us

Our main Festival is Rye’s principal annual arts event, taking place over two weeks in September. It has developed over the past 45 years into one of the most successful and respected small festivals of its kind, dedicated to high quality performances in music, literature, theatre and other art forms coupled with a range of activities in heritage and the environment.

In recent years, Rye Arts Festival has featured, among others: Dame Ellen MacArthur, Sandy Gall, Peter Snow, Sir Max Hastings, Henry Blofeld, Tasmin Little, Benjamin Grosvenor, Jane Gardham, Philip Venning, Voces8, Nikolai Demidenko, The Zemlinsky Quartet, The Sitkovetsky Piano Trio, The English Concert, Lord David Owen, Vicky Pryce, Sarah Raven, Adam Nicolson, Frances Spalding, John Julius Norwich, A.N.Wilson, Richard Lester, Professor Robert Winston, Professor David King, Flossie Malavialle, Dervish, “West” Weston, Courtney Pine, The Big Chris Barber Band and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.  Click here for a full list of past performers.

The Festival’s main audiences are from Rye and the surrounding area, although it now attracts increasing numbers from further afield.  The Committee always seeks to widen access to its programmes while continuing to deliver excellent events and performances. Many thousands of tickets were sold to those attending 58 events during the 2015 Festival fortnight and many others enjoyed events to which there was free access, including all the special exhibitions that were on offer at the time.

As part of our policy to support local educational activities and encourage involvement in the Festival by younger generations, two students from Rye Studio School are chosen to attend committee meetings in each of the last two academic years. Other students keep a photographic record of the Festivals. This builds on a long standing tradition to include events for young people in the programme.

The Festival is a registered charity organised by a team of trustees and volunteers.  Click here to view them. Its purpose is to foster and promote knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the arts and sciences of music, opera, dance and drama, film, literature and the visual arts.  It aims to do this for as wide an audience as possible and to attract them by, among other things, keeping the cost to the public of high quality performances as low as possible.

If you would like to read a copy of our Constitution, please click here.

Annual Report and Accounts

You can download the latest Trustees’ Report and Financial Statements here: Annual Report 2016 and Accounts 2015-2016. The documents detail our charity information, Trustees’ Report, Statement of Financial Activities for the year, the Balance Sheet and Notes to the Accounts.