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Photo Gallery: Magdalen-Augustine festival celebrates Norwich’s ‘creative quarter’

09:10 14 October 2012

Anam Cara belly dancers at the Magdalen Street celebration.  Photo: Bill Smith

Anam Cara belly dancers at the Magdalen Street celebration. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2012

A colourful kaleidoscope of creativity lit up a northern Norwich neighbourhood during an event designed to celebrate the area’s rich cultural and artistic diversity.

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The third annual Magdalen-Augustine street festival showcased the city’s “creative quarter” with a series of shows and attractions around Magdalen Street, St Augustine’s Street and Anglia Square.

Throughout the day on Saturday, the dizzying variety of entertainment spanned a range including storytelling, tandem rides, Caribbean food, drummers, belly dancers, art and Thai boxing.

Some of the city’s finest musicians were on show too, with a stage set up in Anglia Square for American-influenced bands and singers, contrasting the classical recitals at St Augustine’s church and the afternoon of acoustic music at the King of Hearts.

“Roaming acts” included a vintage city discovery trail, yarn-bombers, buskers and Morris dancers, while a pop-up Magdalen Memorial Cafe was set up at Epic Studios, harking back to Magdalen Street’s past – including the return of the Dolls’ Hospital which used to operate there.

Under the flyover, artists, voluntary groups, political organisations and charities set up stalls to talk to shoppers and passers-by.

The event was founded to highlight the “creativity, diversity and sustainability” of this part of the city – but also to recognise the community cohesion which has helped rejuvenate it after a period in the doldrums.

Festival organiser Stefi Barna, a University of East Anglia lecturer who moved to the city from Los Angeles five years ago, said the current proliferation of vintage, second-hand and charity shops was a symbol of the area’s resilience to tough economic times.

“Every city has a neighbourhood like this, and usually it is cherished,” she said. “Here in Norwich, we have this funky and diverse place – it is like the city’s Bohemian neighbourhood. We decided it was a good idea to have a street festival to celebrate it.

“Every year we have dozens of musicians, some of which are quite well-known professionally, who come out of the woodwork wanting to perform here, so the whole thing runs on just a few hundred pounds for insurance and leaflets.

“They turn up and perform for free because they like the idea that in a recession there is a community that is cohesive and tries to have a positive view on the future. That is what makes it such a resilient and vibrant neighbourhood.

“A lot of the shops are full now and we have a bigger concentration of vintage, second-hand and charity shops than you would find in most places outside London. Then there is all the ethnic restaurants and food shops.

“It is a really positive vibe. These are hard times, but people are really making a go of it in Magadalen Street and St Augustine’s.”

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