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Portsmouth Festivities

The school takes a leading role in overseeing and running the Portsmouth Festivities, a 10 day Arts Festival at the end of June. The Festivities works with many partners including schools and community groups in order capture imaginations, celebrate diversity and explore Portsmouth’s rich heritage.

Now in its 19th year, the Portsmouth Festivities has developed a reputation for providing high quality events with professional artists in the city’s unique venues. Both regionally and nationally, our outreach continues to grow.

Every year, the Festivities champion the very best of Portsmouth, bringing its rich heritage and thriving cultural scene to the forefront. What’s more, we assist in shaping the provision of accessible cultural experiences for all. And every year, we  grow and develop - extending our reach, reputation and impact.


What are the aims of the project or partnership?

The Portsmouth Festivities aspires to celebrate and enrich understanding and enjoyment of arts, culture and heritage in Portsmouth. 

The objectives of Portsmouth Festivities are concerned with advancement of education; in particular to extend and increase the knowledge and appreciation of learning and culture in all its forms by the general public and especially young people, and particularly by the promotion of the arts, and the exploration of the history and heritage of the area of Portsmouth and neighbouring districts.

The Portsmouth Festivities provides the City of Portsmouth with its own distinctive multidisciplinary festival, which has grown out of the history and heritage of Portsmouth and is presented within the unique range of local buildings.

In addition to championing high artistic values, we are committed to placing learning at the heart of our work. Our vision is to engage creatively with people from across the city community, with a particular focus on involving pupils of local primary and secondary schools.  

The partnership with Portsmouth Grammar School is driven by a desire to connect with and support local cultural and creative organisations, exchanging ideas, energy and resources to promote the imaginative life and wider profile of the city.

What was the identified need?

There was no event of this nature within Portsmouth and the Grammar School has always had a great reputation for its music department and through the Festivities Partnership PGS was able to increase its outreach. Portsmouth Festivities value the link between culture and learning.   A key outcome is to increase opportunities for and access to creative learning opportunities for formal education and lifelong learning.

A rich programme of activities and events provides opportunities to develop skills, confidence, and a sense of place and community.

What are the critical factors for success?

1.    Innovative and diverse programme

2.    Quality data and reporting

3.    Core Partnership commitment

4.    Communication to improve quality

5.    Continuous improvement

6.    People (staffing, partners and community)

7.    Resources

8.    Marketing

9.    Finances

10.  Patrons and Customer loyalty


Who are the immediate beneficiaries and those in the wider community?


Pupils are able to get involved in various projects as well as attend a wide variety of arts and cultural provision. Teachers are able to work with the festival and artists and can enhance their CPD as a result of the yearly opportunities. The general public are able to get involved in projects as well as attending free and ticketed events. The Festivities also operates a community platform programme where any local businesses, organisations and groups can be involved in the ten day events. The festivities also works with volunteers from schools, Universities and the general public giving them opportunities throughout the whole year and not just during the Festivities.


How did the project or partnership come about?

Dr Hands, Head of the school, created the Festivities in 1999 to bring artistic and cultural opportunities to the City of Portsmouth.

Who identified the opportunity and how?

Dr Hands, the previous Head of the school created the Festivities.

How long has it been established?


19 years


What resources are critical to the success of the project or partnership?

The School sponsors the Festivities but it also provides in house support with regards to space for events and all of the support functions of the school are accessed by the festivities. The staffs who work so closely with the Festival are also very crucial. Without a solid partnership the Festivities would not exist or would function very differently to the way it does now.

 Does it use school facilities?

Offices on site, use of phone line, postal services and lunches provided. Use of rooms on site for meetings and use of the theatre/lecture/music space for events.

Does it use teaching or non-teaching staff?

Yes Teaching and Non-teaching support staff and gap year roles work with the Festivities but the staff team of the Festivities are Non-teaching support staff.

How many and for how long?

Festivities work with many departments within the school so usually about 5 teaching staff per year. The Festivities currently has 2.5 staff.

Is there a financial contribution?




Is there any qualitative or quantitative assessment of the benefits of the activity?

Audience surveys are completed by the Festivities audience. Postcode analysis of customer data is also captured. Online surveys. Project evaluation is carried out for large scale projects and this includes artists and young people.

Numbers benefitting from Portsmouth Festivities 2015:

Artist’s                                                                          993                                        

Participant’s                                                                 919                                        

Audience (live)                                                            17940

Audience (broadcast, online, in writing)                      83 199 

Total    103, 051

Analysis of postcode data collected from Portsmouth Festivities 2015 Box Offices at Portsmouth Guildhall and Kings Theatre for ticketed activities and events, demonstrates that Festivities 2015 engaged with 65.16% of its audience coming from within Portsmouth. 

34.84 % of the ticketed audience for Festivities 2015 therefore came from outside of the Portsmouth area.  This demonstrates the reach of the Festivities outside its immediate area.  With this information, we can confidently continue to develop our profile across Portsmouth and the wider region.

Audience Surveys were carried out on a selection of events and 80.5% of the feedback rated the Festivities events as 80.5% Excellent, 17.1% as Very Good, and 2.4% as Fairly Good with no responses below this scoring.

How often is the assessment carried out?

Every year and after every event


Pupil Involvement

To what extent are pupils involved from the independent school and from other participants?

Sixth Form pupils volunteer to assist in front of house and stewarding roles.

Students from many departments are involved in participation in workshops, masterclasses and projects with outside artists and organisations.

Festivities also work with many students from other schools that are in and around the City and in 2018 Festivities worked with 34 schools.


How old are the pupils?

Aged 17


What gender are they, if relevant?




Portsmouth Festivities is an annual event that we see continuing for many years to come.