Norfolk’s 2017 arts highlights show it is a true county of culture
PUBLISHED: 16:50 27 December 2017 | UPDATED: 00:19 29 December 2017
Norfolk has proved itself to be a rich and varied county of culture over the last 12 months. Arts correspondent Emma Knights looks at just some of the arts highlights during 2017
From pop superstars Take That heading to Carrow Road to a Donald Trump puppet being unveiled by Spitting Image co-creator Roger Law at Norwich’s Sainsbury Centre, it has certainly been an interesting year for the arts in our county.
Every year it seems Norfolk’s cultural scene gets more vibrant, and that was certainly the case for 2017.
Audiences enjoyed a packed calendar of entertainment, many events sparked huge debate, and a great deal have flown the flag for our city and county on the national and international stage.
Following a visit by Arts Council England CEO Darren Henley to Norwich University of the Arts in November, there have been calls for Norwich to bid to be UK City of Culture 2025.
And the 2017 highlights below show that, even without this official title, we are already lucky enough to be living in a great city and county full of culture.
Take That treated 60,000 fans to one of Norwich’s biggest ever pop music events when the band brought the Wonderland tour to Carrow Road.
The two gigs were a sure sign Norwich is fast making a name for itself on the national music scene.
Many outdoor music concerts also pulled in the crowds, and they included Blicking Hall hosting Classic Ibiza and the Great British Prom, Holkham Hall hosting Tom Jones and UB40, and Earlham Park hosting Little Mix and Let’s Rock Norwich.
The Royal Norfolk Show, which had Celebrating The Arts as one of its themes, formed the huge county-wide choir Showstoppers, which closed the show with a special performance.
Classical music highlights included Norwich Philharmonic Society continuing its quest to play all the Mahler symphonies and performing the 9th Symphony.
A new chapter began at Norwich’s Dragon Hall as building work started on the National Centre for Writing project being led by Writers’ Centre Norwich.
Norwich store the Book Hive found itself at the centre of fierce debate when The Woman in Black author Susan Hill cancelled an event and branded the store an “anti-Trump bookshop.” While MP Michael Gove spoke out in support of Ms Hill, a huge amount of people – including authors Sarah Perry, Joanne Harris and Patrick Ness – leapt to the defence of the London Street shop.
A visit from the Queen to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts’s Fiji exhibition kicked off a busy year for the venue, which was cast into the spotlight many times.
Sculptures by Sir Antony Gormley sparked enormous debate. Meanwhile, Spitting Image co-creater Roger Law unveiled his new Donald Trump puppet to the world for the first time at the venue. A huge red tower – a model of Tatlin’s Tower – sprung up outside the venue for The Russia Season exhibitions.
Norwich Castle found itself hitting the headlines when an international art mystery involving its Magritte painting The Human Condition was finally solved.
The painting hides part of Magritte’s missing work The Enchanted Pose, with other parts found in New York and Stockholm, and the final piece was discovered in Brussels in November.
Up in north Norfolk, Turner Prize-winning artist Richard Long used Houghton Hall as his canvas for his latest show of art in the landscape, called Earth Sky.
This year’s huge array of festive shows crowns a great year for the stage.
Among them, Sleeping Beauty is proving a dream of a pantomime at Norwich Theatre Royal, Little Red Riding Hood is inspiring the youngest of theatre-goers at The Garage, Thursford Christmas Spectacular was yet again a sold-out success, and newly-revamped Diss Corn Hall is presenting Aladdin as its first professional pantomime.
Mamma Mia! was one of the Theatre Royal’s biggest 2017 shows.
Meanwhile, the Cromer Pier Show celebrated 40 years, comedy legends The Nimmo Twins opened the newly-refurbished Norwich Playhouse, and Norwich-based curious directive took theatre into virtual reality with Frogman at Norwich Arts Centre.
Norwich Castle’s Nelson and Norfolk exhibition attracted more than 50,000 visitors over nine weeks – making it one of the castle’s most popular exhibitions.
The exhibition’s centrepiece was a huge Tricolor flag captured by Admiral Lord Nelson’s men and displayed for the first time in a century.
Meanwhile, work continues to gather pace on the £13.5m Norwich Castle: Gateway to Medieval England project aiming to return the castle’s keep back to how it was in its days as a medieval royal palace, and the Keep Giving public campaign has to date raised more than £17,500.
King’s Lynn Festival, Holt Festival, Norwich’s Lord Mayor’s Celebration and Great Yarmouth’s Out There International Festival of Circus and Street Arts were just some of the great events.
Norfolk and Norwich Festival saw an impressive moon installation land at The Forum and other highlights included people watching the show Rear View from the back of a moving bus, and the Assembly House hosting The Voice Project’s choral sleepover.
A Hostry Festival highlight was the Norfolk Arts Awards, which paid tribute to stage and screen legend Sir John Hurt, who died in January, and which also revealed the EDP People’s Choice Awards winners to be Lost In Translation Circus, The Common Lot’s show Come Yew In!, and young musicians’ champion Annie Catwoman.
Red Card Comedy Club, which was celebrating its 15th year, once again brought Laugh in the Park to Chapelfield Gardens.
FILM AND TELEVISION
Norwich Cathedral’s role in the film Tulip Fever was finally revealed to American audiences, but mystery still surrounds the film’s UK release date.
The landmark also featured in Bafta-winning filmmaker Rob Whitworth’s short film Norwich... A Story, which proved a social media hit and attracted the attention of Hollywood star Russell Crowe.
Former Canaries star Justin Fashanu was the subject of new film Forbidden Games. Meanwhile, former City College Norwich student Mark Everson was one
of the editors of Paddington 2.
News broke in December that Norwich City Council had expressed an interest to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for Norwich to become Channel 4’s new home when it relocates from London.
Norfolk actress Olivia Colman was also announced as taking on the role of playing the Queen in the next series of Netflix drama The Crown.