Our arts programme is geared to providing first class events that are stimulating, entertaining, inspiring and sometimes challenging. St. Peter’s is a highly versatile space with splendid acoustics that have been honed to perfection by local resident Campbell Hughes, our sound and lighting engineer.
Over the past six years we have hosted concerts by both modern groups and classical artists and choirs; art exhibitions which have included paintings, ceramics and photography and many comic and serious events in the performing arts. During 2006 we started an annual month long art exhibition during September under the banner of ‘Artists of the Jurassic Coast’. This exhibition by local artists who concentrate on works inspired by the spectacular coastal scenes and topography has become a very popular event attracting up to 1,000 visitors each year, many of whom have never had the opportunity to see the interior of St. Peter’s. The exhibition enables artists to show their work to a wide cross section of the public, many of whom are tourists.
Dorset artist Stephen Bishop (www.stephenbishop.co.uk) is our resident artist during the biannual Dorset Arts Weeks and has benefited from a steadily increasing demand for his work.
In June of 2009 we altered the programming of our yearly operatic evening by extending the interval to encourage the audience to bring picnics in the spectacular setting of St. Peter’s as they enjoyed their evening. This proved a huge success and we are planning to make this a regular feature of our summer programme.
These events in the performing and visual arts were augmented between 2005 and 2008 with the introduction of literary lectures during November as part of the Bridport Literary Festival, in the establishment of which we played a crucial role.
Starting in 2009 we organised our own two weeks of literary talks under the banner of the Eype Spring/Autumn ‘Book ‘n Author’ Literary Week and planned to make these a small but entertaining and stimulating addition to the UK’s literary festivals calendar. These continued successfully until 2011 when the Bridport Arts Centre and the Bridport Literary Festival went their separate ways creating two separate festivals. Together with our offerings this resulted in three literary festivals taking place within two months. In 2011 the Bridport Arts Centre decided to move their 2012 ‘Open Book’ Festival to the dates we had fixed in October and we decided therefore to cease presenting these programmes.
During the year we also run a series of educational lectures on various aspects of early artistic and architectural subjects under the direction of Higher Eype resident Patric Morrissey, a popular Art and Architecture Historian. These take place at Patric’s home in Higher Eype.
Aside from our own activities we also hire the chapel to artist for their own painting exhibitions and musical events. With its excellent acoustics St. Peter’s has also been used as a recording studio.