Rye Arts Festival hunts around the world for the very best talent to come to Rye in the last two weeks of September. And this year, marking the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the UK, the organisers have booked a trio of Dames to entertain at what has been described as one of the UK’s best arts festivals – Jenni Murray, Joan Ruddock and Emma Kirkby. Dame Jenni Murray is the doyenne of radio presenters; Dame Joan Ruddock is a politician and campaigner of considerable note and Dame Emma Kirkby is a soprano with worldwide reputation.
Dame Jenni Murray closes the Festival on Sunday 30th September at the Milligan Theatre in Rye College. She hardly needs any introduction, since she has been a fixture on BBC Radio 4 for many decades, presenting Women’s Hour since 1987, Dame Jenni Murray is the author of several books, and her latest, A History of the World in 21 Women (which is published on 6th September) looks at the great women, rescuing some from obscurity and shining a new light on familiar names. These are women who led while others followed. They stood up and spoke out when no one else would. They broke the mould in art, journalism and politics. Each fought, in her own way, for change. For example, Joan of Arc, Catherine the Great, Madonna, and Frida Kahlo are included.
An audience with Dame Jenni Murray promises to be lively and entertaining and in this centenary year a fabulous way to close the Festival.
But the Rye Arts Festival this year opens with another British woman of great note – Dame Joan Ruddock, who will be speaking at Rye Community Centre at 11am on Saturday 15th September.
Dame Joan is lifelong feminist and environmentalist, and she first came to national attention in the 1980s when she became chair of CND. She then moved into mainstream politics, and was elected to parliament in 1987 after winning the Lewisham Deptford constituency in 1987. She was re-elected in the deprived inner London borough a further five times.
Her Parliamentary career was hugely impressive and Dame Joan held numerous shadow briefs before becoming the very first full time Minister for Women in 1997, a post which was only created a full 79 years after women were given the vote! Dame Joan will be introduced by her Parliamentary colleague, and former Hastings and Rye MP, Michael Foster.
The third dame will be the English soprano Dame Emma Kirkby, who will be performing on Friday 28th September at St Mary’s Church in Rye with the Dowland Works ensemble.
Dame Emma is unquestionably one of the world’s most famous early music specialists and her uncommonly pure, crystalline voice is ideally suited for early, Renaissance and Baroque music. She will be supported by the other singers and a table full of lute players from Dowland Works.
Hopefully, these events provide a helpful taster what’s on offer!
For the full list of events, and to book tickets, go to. Otherwise ring the Box Office on 01797 224442.