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Warwick Student Arts Festival

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Title: Warwick Student Arts Festival  
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Warwick Student Arts Festival

The logo used by WSAF from 2006 onwards.

Warwick Student Arts Festival (WSAF) is an annual festival taking place at the University of Warwick. It was founded by Steve Pretty (then Societies and Student Development Officer sabbatical for the University of Warwick Students' Union) in 2004 with the aim of showcasing and celebrating all aspects of student art. It features a programme of events including plays (both published texts and student-written), musicals, dance, film, orchestras, choirs and bands, with a very heavy emphasis on collaboration across genres and art forms. All these events are free to attend, and the festival receives financial backing from both the Warwick Arts Centre and the University of Warwick Students' Union to ensure the festival can keep this free ethos. Alongside One World Week and Go Green Week, WSAF completes a series of annual student-run festivals at the University.

Warwick Student Art Festival 2002

The Warwick Student Art Festival was a forerunner of WSAF. Held in 2002 it included a campus wide programme of performance and art including installation, painting, sculpture, live art and theatre. As well as providing a testbed for many of the ideas which would later inform WSAF it also coined the distinctive WSAF SPLAT logo. The festival included performances in several venues including the Piazza, The Students' Union, the Humanities' quads and Tocil Wood.[1]

The logo used by WSAF 2004.

WSAF 2004

The first ever WSAF ran from 20 to 24 June 2004, and featured over fifty events. These took place in a number of venues including the Piazza, Students' Union and Studio Theatre within Warwick Arts Centre. Other events also took place around campus such as Rootes Field. The festival also allowed Warwick TV to display a number of student created films on a large screen. The festival was claimed to be the "largest student arts festival in Europe."[2]

WSAF 2005

The second year of WSAF again utilised the same venues and took place between 19 and 23 June 2005. The Piazza gained a larger stage than that used in the previous year and more events took place than in the previous year.

WSAF 2006

WSAF 2006, from 18 to 22 June, featured over 80 performances spread over many venues including the Piazza, The Students' Union and The Studio, with other shows taking place in more unusual venues around the Warwick campus. WSAF, in collaboration with Warwick Student Cinema hosted an outdoor film screening on Tocil field of Finding Nemo. Other notable events included a prog-rock-style concert featuring the University of Warwick Symphony Orchestra and student band Replica X, and a performance from a student company from MIT.

WSAF 2007

Breakdancing on the Piazza stage during the 2007 festival

Running from 24 to 28 June 2007, WSAF 2007 hosted 82 events. This included a screening of Ice Age in collaboration with Warwick Student Cinema on Tocil field. For the first year the festival hosted a music concert in collaboration with Love Music Hate Racism, featuring Babyhead and The King Blues. There was also a 'Mad Hatters Tea Party' run by the Arts Society and Craft Society. Again venues included the Piazza, Students' Union and the Studio, with one-off shows occurring elsewhere on the Warwick campus, including a lift in the Humanities department. Despite torrential weather, only a few events were cancelled and audience numbers still remained high.

WSAF 2008

Over 80 events took place in WSAF’08 across a breadth of spaces making full use of the campus environment. The Piazza once again served as the festival’s traditional focal point, and was harnessed for large scale performances which entertained crowds of several hundred. These included concerts from all the university’s orchestras and several slots for Band Soc, a “Shakespeare-in-the-park” style production of The Tempest, Revelation Rock Gospel Choir, Bollywood and jazz dance shows and Beats and Pieces, a spectacular breakdancing competition with crews from around Europe.

The Arts Centre hosted a mixture of classical and experimental theatre in the studio, including a production of Wedekind’s Spring Awakening, Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore, Mark Ravenhill’s Shoot, Get Treasure, Repeat and new student writing including the sell-outs Quest,Tech Crew: The Musical!, Nineteen and sketch show An Evening Without Dignity. In the cinema, alongside our own student-made films, we collaborated with Warwick Shootout to cross-market our events and incorporate their competition screenings and awards into WSAF. The arts centre foyers also hosted exhibitions and hands-on creative workshops, including second-hand book sculpture and a “big art attack” in the style of TV personality Neil Buchanan.

The Union was used to host wet weather events shifted from the Piazza, and boasted a varied selection of events in its own right, including student cabaret, a showcase of student–designed videogames, musical theatre productions, and poetry readings. The Ramphal Building housed a multimedia performance of a work by Daniel Neofetou which encompassed film, music and theatre entitled Angel in Crayola. WSAF also began a collaboration with the university’s new CAPITAL Centre, hosting several small-scale theatre productions in its intimate box space. Other events – such as a roaming late night production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, watched by over four hundred students – made full use of less conventional performance locations.

WSAF 2009 (SPLATfest)

The 2009 festival was rebranded SPLATfest (Student Performance, Literature, Arts and Theatre) and due to rebuild works taking place across the campus it took a radically different form. The main venue for events was a big top tent that was erected on the Maths Field. The tent contained 2 stages (BIG and BABYsplat) which allowed performances to be run back to back. As part of the rebranding operation a greater emphasis was placed on Literature and the festival was headlined by an appearance from literary figure AL Kennedy.

Once again Warwick Arts Centre hosted a combination of Dance, Theatre and Student Writing with highlights including Edinburgh previews of Boy in Darkness by Curious Directive and Quest, The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (abridged) Dealers Choice and The Specialisation Of Sensibility In The Raw Material State Into Stabilised Theatrical Sensibility. The CAPITAL centre also hosted plays including Tape and Seven Jewish Children.

The event was brought to a close with SPLATtacular Spectacular which was a concert celebrating collaboration amongst societies. Chamber Choir and Latin and Ballroom went Back to the 60s and Symphony Orchestra and Classic and Modern Dance interpreted The Storm. The tradition of performing in unconventional places continued with the Dance and Drum Parade and Nick: A Tragicomedy on Five Benches which took place along the banks of the lake.


  1. ^ Warwick Student Art Festival 2002 Program "WSAF Program 2002"
  2. ^ BBC Coventry and Warwickshire. "Breakdancing at Warwick Uni",, 24 June 2004. Accessed 17 July 2007.

External links

  • WSAF Website
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