2010: Arts review of the year

RESIDENTS of 1066 Country are fond of boasting of the bustling arts scene down here in Harold’s old stomping ground, but it is only when you look back at the past 12 months that you appreciate the depth, diversity and downright talent that this small corner of England enjoys.

It would be impossible to namecheck every great event held this year, and for the handful championed below there are several amateur productions - be they choir concerts, plays or musicals that have wowed audiences over the last year. To everyone who helped make them happen - we salute you. But here is just a selection of some of 2010’s highlights:

Live Music

As usual music fans were spoiled for choice in 2010 with several stand-out shows. The Gallows made their long awaited return to The Crypt in February and blew the roof off by all accounts, while Ade Edmondson’s punk-folk fusion The Bad Shepherds dazzled the crowd at Venuu in May. Nanci Griffith was the highlight of another strong year of music at the De La Warr Pavilion, along with the old master Duane Eddy in October. James Hunter stormed his sold out show in November, while Mike Hatchard and Chris Dean were the highlight of another great season of Sunday morning gigs organised by the Rotary Club. Blair, Cushty and the 1066 Rockitmen were among those to star at the Hastings Beer Festival, and a special mention to Roger Wilcock and his 150-strong amateur choir who made the first ever Hastings proms a night to remember.

Fingers crossed it will be a regular event, as will Fat Tuesday, a multi-band, multi-venue mardi gras mash up which warmed up a freezing February night with masked mayhem aplenty.

Comedy

Hastings continues to attract some of comedy’s biggest names - Jimmy Carr, Frankie Boyle, John Bishop and Jim Davidson all played to sell out crowds. But for us the highlights were less well-known names who put on superb shows. Richard Herring’s Hitler Moustache was a passionate polemic against the dangers of the far right, which also happened to be brilliantly funny, while Jim Jeffries didn’t disappoint on either of his two visits here with his searingly honest shows.

Theatre

Honourable mention to another strong season at The Stables in Hastings, but the two top picks both came at the White Rock. Woman in Black was a mesmerising, genuinely terrifying twist on the ghost story, while the summer youth production of Our House was a triumph for everyone involved.

Visual arts

Blockbuster show of the year was a dead heat - Antony Gormley’s Critical Mass at the DLWP showed a master at the height of his powers, while The Chapman Brothers show at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery showed two stellar names at the inception of theirs.

Coastal Currents shone again - the Sharing of the Spring in Summerfields Woods, the Jorg Rost light installation on the seafront, F-ISH Gallery’s Parallel Worlds video show and As You Like It in St Leonards Gardens were among the best bits. The Rye Arts Festival put together one of its strongest programmes in recent years - huge names like Max Hastings and Dame Ellen MacArthur gave talks alongside a great musical lineup.

The Brighton Photo Fringe Hastings had a successful first year with some fantastic shows around town, from big names to up-and-coming stars - in fact with the brilliant Lucy Bell Gallery and the recent Myth, Manners and Memory show at the DLWP, 2010 may be considered the year photography made its mark.

Rob Alderson