About Us

Bringing music and arts lovers from far and wide to enjoy concerts and other events from world-class artists in an eclectic selection of special and frequently intimate venues and historic settings.

Deal Music & Arts has brought the best in the arts to East Kent for over 40 years. We have welcomed great musicians, fine actors and distinguished writers to Deal, Walmer, Sandwich and Dover.  We have evolved from curating a summer festival in July into a year-round organisation that offers Learning and Participation programmes as well as a festival.  We are proud to enrich the cultural life and so well being within our communities as well benefitting the East Kent economy.

We present festival events in a range of locations, from historic Tudor castles and gardens to art galleries, from theatres to churches, from the shoreline to the streets We are a catalyst within arts partnerships and provide platforms for artistic collaboration, creativity and innovation.

We intend to inspire, inform, entertain and educate.  Alongside a festival we run a series of music and arts Learning and Participation programmes within a third of the schools in our coastal area. We are contribute to the social, economic and cultural regeneration of East Kent..

You can experience Deal Music & Arts in a number of ways.  You can visit our twelve day Summer Festival and enjoy music and the arts in this beautiful and historic corner of England, in St George’s Church, the gardens of Walmer Castle, the Astor Theatre  and Sandwich Guildhall.  You can enrol in our annual Summer Music School.  You can participate in one or more of our education programmes, or you can work with us as a volunteer, becoming part of the Deal Music & Arts family.

The very first Deal Festival – The Deal Summer Music Festival – was organised by Swedish pianist Lennart Rabes who had moved to Deal from London and included Evelyn Rothwell and Steven Isserlis giving oboe and cello masterclasses. The Festival flourished under the leadership of a series of Artistic Directors – Roger Raphael, Steven Isserlis (1985/6) and Peter Evans (1987/8) before the composer David Matthews (Artistic Director 1989 – 2003) created fourteen annual fortnight long programmes, which firmly established Deal Festival as a major presence in British music.

The composer Paul Max Edlin (2004 – 2010) worked with the festival’s first Education Director, Rosemary Dunn, to develop our early education work.  Cellist, singer and actor Matthew Sharp (2011 – 2013) cast a wider net in his festival programming embracing European artists and cutting-edge work while working closely with Education Director David Burridge.  Laura Callaghan took on that role in 2013 and Peter Cook in 2020.

Paul Max Edlin returned as Artistic Director in 2014 to direct a total of eight festivals. In 2018 Deal Festival of Music and the Arts became Deal Music & Arts in order to reflect the organisation’s wider brief and our year-round education work. The composer Luke Styles took up the Festival reins from 2023.

In 2019 Deal Music & Arts welcomed its largest audience to date and reached over 2,000 young people through its year-round Participation and Learning programme. During the Covid year the festival went online and you can watch our programmes on DMA’s YouTube site by clicking on the link below:

DMA’s YouTube Channel

We only lost one festival due to Covid epidemic and the festivals in 2021 and 2022 were supported enthusiastically by both returning and new audiences. The annual summer Festival continues to offer a programme rooted in the classics – music, drama, cinema and literature – but one which also embraces the new and innovative across all creative disciplines. The festival offers audiences from all over Kent and beyond new commissions, collaborations and world premieres by younger composers, musicians and artists from around the world.

We strive to know the communities in East Kent that we serve and to respect and serve diversity within these communities.  We understand that we must nurture and develop new audiences for the festival and reach out to the uninitiated in our Learning and Participation work. If we meet an ever growing educational and social need in East Kent we can build a new audience for the Festival. Learning and Participation and the Festival should be completely interdependent

Lucy Crowe OBE



Lucy Crowe is a soprano who studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where she is a Fellow. She was made an OBE in the 2023 King’s Birthday Honours.  Lucy has given stand out performances throughout the world and on all of the UK’s premiere stages singing with opera companies including the English Concert, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Handel & Haydn Society, the Orchestra of Age of Enlightenment and the Monteverdi Choir & Orchestra.

 Lucy became President of Deal Festival in 2023.

Steven Isserliss



Acclaimed worldwide for his profound musicianship and technical mastery, British cellist Steven Isserlis enjoys a uniquely varied career as a soloist, chamber musician, educator, author and broadcaster. He appears with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, and gives recitals in major musical centres. As a chamber musician, he has curated concert series for many prestigious venues.

He has a strong interest in historical performance, working with many period-instrument orchestras and giving recitals with harpsichord and fortepiano. He is also a keen exponent of contemporary music and has given many premieres of new works, including Sir John Tavener’s The Protecting Veil and many other works.

Steven’s wide-ranging discography includes J S Bach’s complete solo cello suites (Gramophone’s Instrumental Album of the Year), Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano, concertos by C P E Bach and Haydn, the Elgar and Walton concertos, and the Brahms double concerto with Joshua Bell and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

Since 1997, Steven has been Artistic Director of the International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove, Cornwall.

The recipient of many awards, Steven’s honours include a CBE in recognition of his services to music, the Schumann Prize of the City of Zwickau, the Piatigorsky Prize and Maestro Foundation Genius Grant in the U.S, the Glashütte Award in Germany, the Gold Medal awarded by the Armenian Ministry of Culture, and the Wigmore Medal.

Steven is a former Artistic Director of Deal Music & Arts (then Deal Festival) and has regularly returned as a soloist, most recently in 2019 when he was soloist with the Purcell School Orchestra and led a masterclass. 

David Matthews



David Matthews was born in London in 1943 and started composing at the age of sixteen. He read Classics at the University of Nottingham – which has also made him an Honorary Doctor of Music. He spent three years as an assistant to Benjamin Britten at Aldeburgh in the late 1960’s. He has also written books on the music of Michael Tippett and Bejamin Britten. Matthews has been Music Advisor to the English Chamber Orchestra and was the Artistic Director of the Deal Festival for 10 years until 2003.

Trevor Pinnock CBE



A world famous harpsichordist and conductor he was born in Canterbury and became a chorister at the Cathedral there aged seven. In 1972 he founded the English Concert, an ensemble devoted to the authentic performance of Baroque and early Classical music, and directed the group for thirty years. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 1992. Among many orchestras that he now guest conducts he enjoys a regular relationship with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester. Trevor says that being Kent born and bred and President of the Faversham Music Club he is extremely happy to be associated with the Deal Festival, a prestigious event in the annual cultural calendar of Kent.

Norma Winstone MBE



Since emerging on the London jazz scene in 1966 with an engagement at Ronnie Scott’s Club opposite Roland Kirk, Norma Winstone has worked with many of the innovators on the British and European scene. Her unique voice could be said to define an entire era of British and European Jazz, from re-inventions of The Great American Songbook to more abstract excursions into vocal timbre. She recorded five albums for ECM records with the group Azimuth, with John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler. Her own album for ECM, “Somewhere Called Home” has become one of the classic vocal albums of all time.

She is a highly gifted lyricist and has written words for many compositions by Steve Swallow, Kenny Wheeler, Fred Hersch, Jimmy Rowles and Ralph Towner (with whom she has most recently performed in a duo context)

With Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German saxophonist/bass clarinettist Klaus Gesing she recorded four albums for the ECM label, the first of which, “Distances” was nominated for a Grammy and in 2008 won the Prix du Jazz Vocal in France. Their last recording, “Descansado” consists of new arrangements of music for films and features Italian cellist Mario Brunello and Norwegian percussionist Helge Andreas Norbakken.

In 2007 she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to music and in 2010 the Jazz Ahead Prize for her contribution to European jazz.

She was awarded an honorary Jazz Fellowship by Trinity College of Music and in 2013 was made an Honorary member of The Royal Academy of Music in London.

Festival Board

Rolande Anderson

Christopher Cook – Chairman

Penny Dorritt – Vice Chairman

Paul Green

Graham Harvey

Amanda Holloway

Juliet Desiree Lewis

Peter Robertson

Joy Spencer

Deirdre Wells OBE

General Manager

Willie Cooper

Artistic Director

Luke Styles

Education Director

Peter Cook

Festival Administrator

Alice Wilkinson

Project Co-ordinator

Cathy Morrison


Frances Fyfield

George Hinchliffe

Sue Timney

Special Advisor to the Board

Gavin Esler