More Sponsors to Support Sitting With Jane

Festival Place are the proud headline sponsor and presentation partner for Sitting With Jane – the creative public art trail that will proudly celebrate Basingstoke’s links with Jane Austen next summer. They are really excited about the positive impact it will have on Basingstoke and the surrounding area.

The ‘Wild in Art’ event, delivered by Destination Basingstoke and in association with Festival Place, is a public art trail that will be staged in the summer of 2017, to mark the 200th anniversary of her death.

Jane Austen inspired, unique designs will be painted onto a series of ‘BookBenches’, that will not only be unique pieces of art, but an attractive piece of street furniture that will be accessible for all to see and sit on, to contemplate the artist, Jane Austen or the scene and landscape where it is located. It will form part of a worldwide celebration of Jane Austen’s life, and the ‘Jane Austen 200 – A life in Hampshire’ event spearheaded by Hampshire Cultural Trust, is one of many exciting and creative projects in Basingstoke and the surrounding area planned for 2017.

The trail will attract visitors from all over the world given the fame of our home grown hero – Jane Austen. Similar art trail events have a proven track record of attracting huge numbers of visitors, increasing footfall and awareness of local places – the aim is to celebrate the life of Jane Austen during her 25 years living in Basingstoke and Deane.

Festival Place was the first of many organisations committing to this special art project.

“Sitting With Jane is such an exciting project bringing together modern creativity with a celebration of the area’s rich heritage – we expect it to bring visitors from far and wide. Jane Austen is an important but rarely celebrated part of this area’s history. She used to shop in Basingstoke, and as modern woman in her own time, I am sure she would have appreciated what Festival Place has to offer today!” said Steven Connolly, Director of Festival Place.

Another of the pioneering sponsors is locally-based De La Rue, the global secure solutions provider. With its head office at Viables in Basingstoke and high security paper mill in Overton, De La Rue is sponsoring two BookBenches.

“Sitting With Jane is a very creative way to celebrate our local heritage. We are proud of our award-winning design department that is involved in the creation and realisation of banknotes, passports and other secure documents and so are delighted to be associated with something that we hope will inspire residents, staff and visitors alike”, said Amanda Wiltshire from De La Rue

There are many reasons for businesses and other organisations wanting to get involved – whether it’s a chance to raise awareness of their brand, to attract footfall and visitors to a specific location, helping a local charity raise crucial funds, or to be part of something that everyone will be talking about next summer that recognises this area as an important part in the Jane Austen story.

New to Basingstoke, Abstract Securities is developing “The Florence Building” a brand new 60,546 sq ft land mark speculative office development providing uncompromising value, the first in 15 years in the Town Centre.   Mark Glatman Chief Executive of Abstract Securities, said:

“As a new investor in Basingstoke, we are delighted to sponsor ‘Sitting with Jane’, which rightly celebrates the legacy of Jane Austen in the community and aims to put Basingstoke on the tourism map.  Our business will bring new employment growth to Basingstoke and alongside the arts trail will play a role in sustaining the well-being of the community. The project is a wonderful opportunity for businesses to connect with the arts and people in their community and to be part of a heritage project.”

Explaining why Basingstoke Deane Rotary Club is pleased to be one of the Bookbench sponsors, President Alan Gibson said:

The Basingstoke Deane Rotarians are at the heart of the local community, and our club has a proud track record of supporting local good causes and important projects. Sitting With Jane is an exciting cultural, educational and legacy initiative that will ultimately benefit Ark Cancer Centre Charity – one of the local charities that the Rotary Club is delighted to support – through the proceeds that are raised when the Bookbenches are auctioned. Sitting With Jane is also a great opportunity to raise wider public awareness of what the Rotary Club does, and to show potential members how Rotarians have fun and make a positive difference.”

Businesses that sponsor a BookBench get a package of high profile benefits including exposure in the free to download app, on plaques, and the option to add rewards to the app – as well as the chance to choose a design from those submitted by artists – to be painted on their BookBench.

Any business or organisation that would like to learn more about the project and how they can get involved should contact Destination Basingstoke for more details – time is running out as many of the BookBenches are already sold, so businesses are encouraged to act soon.

Innovative designs from regional artists in any suitable medium, that are inspired by Jane Austen are also invited by 1st December 2016, artists packs can be downloaded from

There may be a temptation to think that Jane Austen and her novels about drawing room etiquette 200 years ago, have little relevance to life in Basingstoke today, but the continuing popularity of her novels is due to their timeless themes of love, social etiquette, feminism – stories told with wit and a sharp observational understanding of human nature.