Nearly 3,000 children around the Alton area will get a masterclass in creativity as part of the town’s first arts festival.

Alton Arts Festival organisers are laying on free creative workshops for students with theatre, poetry and spoken word featuring in the programme.

African drumming, art, photography, silversmithing and creative gardening will also feature with students from schools in Alton, Chawton, Holybourne, Treloar’s, Bentley, Ropley and Medstead all participating.

The “ambitious and inclusive” Schools Programme is part of a “multi-arts and multi-venue celebration of community and creativity” with the ten-day festival taking place from July 5 to 14.

The programme, which has an emphasis on wellbeing and mental health, will be delivered at no costs to schools or pupils thanks to local sponsorship and grants from district councillors.

“A core tenet of the Alton Arts Festival is that everyone deserves access to the arts, and this is especially true for children,” said Sara Wood, schools programme lead and AAF committee member.

“We wanted to make sure no child misses out on what the AAF has to offer, and we’re so thrilled to be able to offer such a comprehensive programme, thanks to the support of our sponsors.”

Jo Eyres, Bentworth Primary School headteacher and head of the Alton Heads cluster, called the AAF a “very special community event.”

She added: “The budget crisis in schools means that when amazing people get together and put on amazing events like this, giving our children a truly creative curriculum, we are enormously grateful.”