Canterbury is at its most creative under Free Range

Free Range is an award-winning arts charity that presents adventurous music, film and dance events with a policy of free-entry.


CommunityAd had the pleasure of speaking with the artistic director of Free Range Mr Sam Bailey to find out more about this wonderful charity…


For readers who might not know, can you explain what Free Range Canterbury is, the idea behind Free Range and how you started up the charity?

Free Range is an award-winning charity that presents free-entry adventurous music and arts events in Canterbury. We put on events every Thursday night during our Spring season (March-May) and our Autumn season (September-November). Our shows take place at Fruitworks, 1-2 Jewry Lane, Canterbury.

We started in 2012 with the idea of providing a place to play and listen to music, film and poetry that you couldn’t find elsewhere in East Kent. To our surprise our first events were packed out and we soon realised that there was a real hunger for grassroots, independent culture in this area. Since then we’ve presented 245 events involving over a thousand artists and helped to create a strong regional community of audience members, organisations and artists who care about adventurous culture. We also run monthly open mic nights and a group of improvising musicians, poets, dancers and artists called the Free Range Orchestra.


You have been running now for over 10 years, what would you say have been your most memorable events during that period and who have been some of the most talented artists you have worked with?

It’s hard to pick from 245 events, but here’s a few that come to mind:

  • Eating Sound was an event involving a composer, a forager and a celebrity chef in which a five-course taster menu made entirely from wild food was accompanied by music for a 6-piece band designed to enhance the eating experience
  • 1890s Night was our spin on a 90s club night. We had magic lantern displays with music from a stroh violin (a violin fused with a gramophone horn) recording live to wax cylinder and then improvising along to the recording
  • Lapis Lazuli / World Peng: a night of local hip-hop and prog-rock that started with a candlelit ritual involving an axe, a naked dancer, lots of paint and a rapper dressed as death.

Our events are more about discovery and experimentation than ‘big names’ but one of the most talented artists we’ve worked with has to be the amazing jazz trumpeter Byron Wallen with his Indigo Quartet. He’s been described as ‘one of the innovative, exciting and original trumpet players alive’ (Jazzwise magazine).


What would you say are some of your fan favourite events that readers can regularly attend?

If you’re thinking of coming to Free Range for the first time, I’d recommend the following events in our Spring season:

11th May – poet Kelvin Corcoran and the exquisite classical/folk string duo Balladeste

18th May – extraordinary jazz trumpeter Byron Wallen returns to Free Range with his Black Flag project

Note: all our events are free and you cannot book in advance. Doors open at 7pm and shows start at 8pm. Events are usually finished by 10pm.


For any budding musicians or people interested in volunteering, how can they enquire to find out more? 

Alongside our main events Free Range runs an open mic event each month. This is a platform for all forms of adventurous performance practice. We’ve had everything from mini space operas, comedy puppetry, music theatre and children’s cookery demonstrations. It’s a great place to try out new ideas. Email enquiries to [email protected].

Connect with us on social media if you’d like to find out more. Or just turn up at one of our events.


Keep up to date with Free Range by visiting their website or following them on Facebook, Insta, and Twitter.

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