How Great Yarmouth’s Out There festival has brought Gallic circus cornucopia to Norfolk

Cranage Productions, The SWAT. Picture: submit

Cranage Productions, The SWAT. Picture: submit - Credit: Archant

Great Yarmouth's traditional kiss-me-quick seaside image has received a Gallic overhaul in recent years with the cosmopolitan Out There Festival taking to its streets, parks and venues.

Lezards Bleus, L'Aimant. Photo: Alexander Karelin

Lezards Bleus, L'Aimant. Photo: Alexander Karelin - Credit: Archant

The circus and street arts extravaganza has evolved a strong international reputation for its programme of performers from the continent, most notably from France.

And this year's festival, the largest to date, will be bringing some of France's brightest young talents to the seaside resort next month, with Gallic performers making up around a third of the bill.

Organisers Seachange Arts said the French connection was an important part of the festival's growth thanks to its European partnerships, many of which have been centred around the EU programme, Interreg.

Financed through the European Regional Development Fund, Interreg encourages cooperation between European countries and one of its projects is Seachange's long running ZEPA partnership.

Les Fees Railleuses, The Polyamide Sisters. Picture: submit

Les Fees Railleuses, The Polyamide Sisters. Picture: submit - Credit: Archant

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Focussed around street arts, the partnership sees Seachange working with six other festivals in France and the UK and is behind this year's Out There headline show.

Joe Mackintosh, Seachange chief executive, said: 'Many French companies produce work of a scope and scale not widely available in the UK, so projects like ZEPA have really helped raise the quality of the festival.'

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The Anglo-French partnerships have not all been about importing talent though.

'It's crucial to recognise the talent flows the other way too,' Mr Mackintosh added. 'We recommend companies to our French partners, affording those companies valuable touring and performance opportunities in Europe.'

The partnerships also work on aspects like outreach, training and youth talent. Seachange's own circus school, who will be performing at the festival, have benefitted from top international tutors visiting Yarmouth to work with them.

Mathilde Vautier, coordinator of the ZEPA project, said: 'Seachange have grasped the spirit of the ZEPA partnership. They have embraced the programme and celebrated the cross-channel links.'

The festival's growth and Seachange's growing reputation as a leading collaborator has seen the group recently recognised with the award of National Portfolio Organisation status, due in part to their international work.

And even though Seachange's two current Anglo-French programmes are coming to a close this year, Yarmouth looks set to continue its strong continental connections.

'It's likely that we will continue to have a strong French and international make-up to the festival,' Mr Mackintosh said.

'Our vision is to make Yarmouth a gateway to the continent, developing local talent, importing and exporting artists. We'll be looking to draw on the wealth of experience from leading French organisations to build the local and national circus and street arts infrastructure.'

? Out There runs from September 17 - 21 September. For more information visit

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