Exciting vision announced for 24-hour arts festival to boost seaside visitors
Plans for an exciting new festival celebrating local and international culture while drawing thousands of visitors to Lowestoft have been announced.
The idea for the First Light Festival, which organisers hope could attract over £1m of investment from Arts Council England and other sources, has evolved from the ongoing Lowestoft South Beach Vision project; a collaboration between internationally renowned designer Wayne Hemingway MBE, Waveney District Council and other local partners and businesses to regenerate the town’s seafront.
The ambitious plan aims to create an event that would play a major role in making Lowestoft a ‘must visit’ destination, building a tradition that attracts thousands of visitors to Lowestoft during the festival.
Working with Mr Hemingway and his events team, the Flipside Festival and the arts leader for Suffolk County Council, the proposal for a 24-hour overnight festival has been worked up by the project group who will be seeking Arts Council funding under the Ambition for Excellence programme.
Michael Ladd, Waveney’s cabinet member for tourism and economic development, said: “The South Beach Vision Project is a truly exciting and innovative approach to boosting the local area and the idea for the First Light Festival makes a huge amount of sense.
“There is clearly a gap in the town’s cultural offering which such an event could fill and there is no doubt that it could create and build a hugely impressive reputation for Lowestoft and Waveney.”
An Arts Council grant would support a festival in 2019 and 2020 and would bring together a network of local, regional and national organisations producing festivals including FlipSide, SeaChange and HemingwayDesign. It would also lead to the delivery of a year-round programme of creative activity in Lowestoft and Waveney.
Mr Hemingway said: “At HemingwayDesign we have come up with a number of nationally significant festivals which are rooted in place and are totally original in their format. First Light Festival is a truly unique, 24 hour-long multi-arts beach and beach front festival that, as the sun rises, celebrates the UK’s ‘First Light’ of day on the seafront of Britain’s most easterly town. I can’t wait to get started with the team on working up the detail on this and I am counting down the days to a balmy and clear midsummer 2019.”
Officers will now submit an ‘expression of interest’ to the Arts Council and, if successful, a full submission will be made to the fund later this month. A full delivery model and business case will then go to the council’s cabinet for approval.
For more information about the South Beach Vision and festival, visit www.lowestoftsouthbeach.co.uk.
The tourism industry is important to Lowestoft and the town currently sees 1.2m visits per annum, with 60pc being repeat visitors.
And during the development of the seafront vision, Waveney District Council said there was considerable community support for a significant festival in Lowestoft which could bring new visitor groups into the town.
Genevieve Christie, director of arts charity FlipSide which is involved in the festival vision, said: “We are hugely excited by the opportunity to develop First Light Festival, a major new festival for Lowestoft that will showcase the town’s natural coastal assets and its unique position as the UK’s most easterly location; working with local, national and international artists and with the community to create a spectacular festival for all the town.
“FlipSide has developed a strong relationship with schools and organisations in Lowestoft, delivering a raft of community projects, bringing the Brazilian Ambassador to the Summer Festival and most recently producing a new children’s October half term festival - we look forward to working with all these partners on First Light Festival.”