10 Years of On The Rocks: Coming up next

OTR's Head of Press Jessica Armstrong discusses the first stages of festival development with Raisa Muhtar.


Question: What does art mean to you?

Once a year, students in the Bubble and the larger Fife area explore this question by taking part in the biggest student-run arts festival, On The Rocks. On The Rocks is where  countless showcases of art, photography, film, theatre, dance, fashion, music and comedy come together, made by everyone and anyone, including your fellow St Andrews students.

The first ever On The Rocks Festival took place in April 2009, during which a group of self-starting students decided that the separate annual film and theatre festivals should be combined to create one bigger, more ambitious event. This event had one purpose; to showcase not only the best of drama and filmmaking in St Andrews, but also to provide a platform to demonstrate the creativity and talent of the artists, photographers, dancers, musicians and comedians we have in St Andrews and the Fife region. With the University of St Andrews Students’ Association supporting over a hundred (and an ever- growing number) of different student societies and groups, On The Rocks is designed to allow each and every one of these groups to display their artistic talents and to work together on bigger projects. This, in turn, assists to create a greater sense of community within the student body, and its influence extends even further afield.

The initiative was so successful that it attracted the attention of several influential actors and actresses, with Sean Connery, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Siobhan Redmond, Crispin Bonham Carter, Joanna Lumley, Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis signing themselves as patrons of the festival. Since then, the festival has grown over the years to become the largest student-run arts festival in both Scotland and the UK. The festival hosts over 50 events annually, utilising various venues around St Andrews like popular stages, but also hitting  the streets.  The majority of these events are sell-out performances.

On the Rocks will return to St Andrews from the 6th-15th of April 2018, celebrating its 10th anniversary, and its committee are working to ensure that it will be even bigger and better than ever.

In previous years, On The Rocks has hosted events such as the Sitara* fashion show, a production of Shakespeare’s King Lear featuring an all-female cast, a ceilidh in St Andrews Castle and ‘Polaris’, a slam-style recital by Hannah Raymond-Cox, a show that featured at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival over the summer.

“We aim to put together an inclusive and diverse festival each year,” says Jessica Armstrong, Head of Press for On The Rocks. “For instance, last year’s line-up featured ‘Found’, a sequence of several spontaneous contemporary dance performances that occurred at various unannounced venues around St Andrews.”

“In the past our programmes have  included events such as comedy acts, musicals, film screenings, food festivals and art exhibitions, as well as community-focused events such as an upcycling workshop and an evolving mural, too.”

She encourages members from the St Andrews community outside of the University to get involved by applying to host an event in order to create as diverse a programme as possible.

In 2014, On The Rocks featured free Community Art Workshops for the first time to further incorporate the Festival into the community. This year, the committee are hoping to build upon these existing town and gown relations.

  If all of this sounds like it’s up your alley, great news: On the Rocks is currently recruiting for its subcommittees.

“We’re looking for enthusiastic individuals to form our Events, Press, Marketing and Design, Community and Outreach and Venues and Tech subcommittees, and also recruiting an Art On The Rocks Coordinator, Logistics Officer and a Sponsorship Officer” says Jessica. “These roles will complete our full committee, who will work to organise the Festival and ensure that it runs smoothly.”

The On the Rocks committee welcomes event ideas that are different and original. Collaborations with others or another group or society are also welcome. In the end, the festival seems to really boil down to trying to bringing like-minded, passionate and artistic individuals together to celebrate art, and have lots of fun doing so.

Applications for On The Rocks’ subcommittee applications are until Wednesday, 27 September at 11:59pm and can be found on the On the Rocks website or via the link http://www.ontherocksfestival.com/subcommittee-applications-otr2018.

Also, if you are interested in hosting an event during the festival, you are in luck! Event applications for the festival will open on Tuesday, 26 September, so keep your eyes peeled!


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