Purbeck Art Weeks postponed until late summer

The annual Purbeck art festival, which usually takes place in May, is to be moved until later in the year due to concerns that Covid restrictions would make the event too uncertain and risky.

The Purbeck Arts Weeks festival, also known as PAW, was cancelled last year and scheduled to take place this year from Saturday 29th May to Sunday 13th June 2021.


However along with many other events in Swanage and across Purbeck, the organisers have come to the conclusion that it will be better to postpone and spread the event over August and September 2021.

Painting by Paul Barron
Paul Barron

Artists open their studios to the public

PAW was started in 2001 by a small group of visual artists who wanted to open their studios to the public. In the past, many Swanage artists along with others across Purbeck have welcomed visitors into their studios to see their work.

In 2012, a performing arts dimension was added to complement the visual arts, and PAW became a fully rounded festival embracing all the arts.

For 2021, the popular concert events will start on Saturday 7th August 2021 with a focused programme and some star performers. The visual arts activities, which includes the Open Studios, the Rollington Barn exhibition near Corfe Castle and the illustrated talks, will run from Saturday 11th to 26th September 2021.

Paw poster

“Too complicated, uncertain and risky”

The PAW organisers said:

“After careful consideration and with a heavy heart, we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we cannot go ahead with PAW at the end of May, as we had hoped.

“Uncertainty around the government’s Road Map decisions and social distancing restrictions at event venues, open studios and Rollington Barn, means it’s too complicated, uncertain and risky, both for our visitors, audiences and exhibitors.

“However, in this exceptional and unpredictable year we remain determined to bring as much of PAW Festival to our community and visitors as we can! But it will be a different sort of festival, spread over a couple of months.”

I Fagiolini musicians
I Fagiolini

Hardship to the creative industries

Over the last year the coronavirus pandemic has brought a good deal of hardship to the creative industries, with artists able to create but unable to easily market their work. The whole performance industry has been closed down, forcing musicians to seek alternative employment. The return of events will be a cause of considerable relief to many.

The organisers added:

“The PAW Festival team, including all our volunteers, performers and artists would like to thank you for your patience and understanding, as we work out how best to bring you the live music and arts we have all missed so much!

“Take care everyone and please keep in touch.”

More information about the programme for later in the year will be made available on the PAW website and across its social media channels, as events are confirmed.

As the festival has been delayed, the organisers are extending the deadline for artists who wish to take part in PAW events including exhibiting at Rollington Barn. Applications from artists are now open until Friday 30th April 2021.

Sculpture by Moira Purver
Moira Purver

Watch a flashback to the PAW exhibition at Rollington Barn in 2014 when we were all allowed to mingle!

Further information

  • For the latest programme of events, keep an eye on the PAW website
  • If artists wish to apply to take part they can do so via the PAW members website
  • More work by PAW artists can be viewed on the artists page of the PAW website
Painting by Katie Heslop
Katie Heslop
Design by Nicky Stockley
Nicky Stockley
Painting by Brenda Woodford
Brenda Woodford
Painting by Lucy Tidbury
Lucy Tidbury

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