In 2010 long-time friend of 20 years Peter Barrow and I decided we would put on a play that I had wanted to stage in London prior to returning to Norfolk in 2005. The play was The Night Of The Iguana by Tennessee Williams. We needed a venue and I knew the Hostry at Norwich Cathedral had only just been opened by the Queen. It was perfect and unchartered in terms of theatre and the arts and we knew we could do things with the space.

The production needed a team to make it happen, so we formed The PBSK Partnership, with Peter Beck and Rebecca Chapman joining us to form what we have come to know ourselves as “The Fab Four”! Any project quickly grows if I’m at the helm, so the following year we turned it into a new annual festival for the county and gained major sponsorship as a result of our first year’s success from Fosters Solicitors. Now just four years later Fosters are still supporting us, along with a host of other Norfolk based companies, trusts, and individuals who see that we are supplying the county with a high standard festival, brimming with original specially commissioned work throughout; many of the projects now returning as annual events in their own right.

Hansells Solicitors and Financial Advisers became the principal sponsors in 2014. Hansells’ backing is supported by other Norfolk-based companies, trusts, and individuals who see that we are supplying the county with a high-standard festival, brimming with original specially-commissioned work. Many of the projects are now returning as annual events in their own right.

None of this could have happened if Sue Ball, the then manager of the Hostry, hadn’t been so welcoming and offered such foresight in allowing us to turn the venue into a theatre for 10 days. Our love and thanks to her always. Now in it’s fourth year, and with an ever-growing partnership with Neil Parsons and his team at the Hostry and Norwich Cathedral, we are able to programme at least a year in advance, ensuring the best projects and artists from Norfolk are confirmed.

It’s an all-year-round thing, with an enormous network of friends and volunteers – over 100 volunteers in fact – leaving aside the 100-plus artists who give of their time so generously. There can be no history to any worthwhile project, if there hasn’t been huge amounts of courage and belief from countless people. So, here and now, I want to thank you for playing your part, however big or small, on stage or off, ticket-holder or simply interested party from afar. The buzz about this festival continues because of the fabulous human aspect to it all.

Take a look around our History section and sign up to become a Friend Of The Festival too. And don’t forget, if you want to get involved directly, simply get in touch. 

So much for you to see, so much for us to share. 

Stash Kirkbride
Founder and Artistic Director