COAST festival off to flying start

An arts festival taking place across Cromer and Sheringham involving hundreds of artists, exhibitions and workshops has got off to a flying start.

The first ever Cromer and Sheringham Arts Festival (COAST) celebrating the creative community in north Norfolk, was launched on Saturday .

The festival is running at venues from Salthouse to Overstrand from October 23-31, and includes a mixture of music, drama, literature, art and craft.

At the weekend among the events taking place, was the chance to see up close the intricate and delicate work of glass artists at The Belfry Arts Centre in Overstrand.

The centre is hosting an exhibition of glass work, and glass artist Angela Jarman has been working with schoolchildren in the area.

Husband and wife team, Andrea Spencer and Scott Benefield are also working at the centre during the festival, demonstrating working with glass using their mobile glass-blowing unit, which has been constructed with no-longer needed bits they rescued from a hospital.

Nora Gaston from the centre, who organised the events said: 'Normally people would have to go to a studio to see this sort of glass work being done. I wanted to give people the chance to see this being done first hand.'

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Overall �65,000 has been raised to put on the festival, including donations from various organisations including both Sheirngham and Cromer Town Councils and the Awards for All for programme.

Speaking at the official opening of the festival on Saturday night , festival president, Robert Short, said: 'There are so many treats in store over the next few coming days of COAST. There is something for everyone, young and old, high and low brow.'

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, who officially declared the festival open, added: 'The festival gives everyone a reason to come here to North Norfolk to witness the beauty of the place and see the richness' of the art we have here in all its forms.'

The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts' Culture of the Countryside outreach project Coast Encounters, is also culminating in a series of free events, exhibitions and installations in Cromer, Sheringham, East Runton and West Runton as part of COAST.

As part of this, visiting artists and Maori spiritual leaders George Nuku and Rosanna Raymond, are making temporary structures at The Brickworks at Cromer Road, West Runton, overlooking the shoreline, addressing questions of climate change, ownership and access to the sea.

Artist Mark Haywood is also leading the East Coast Surfers project at the Brickworks, creating a sculpture piece to document the obsession with the weather shared by surfers in their pursuit of the perfect wave.

He said: 'The plan is to create a shrine to the waves here, a place for people to come and contemplate.'

Included in his sculpture piece will be an oceanographic map of the sea and tape-recorded interviews of surfers taking part in the East Coast Surfing Competition. People are also being invited to come along and add their own thoughts to the piece.

More information on the events taking place across the week, is available at www.casaf.co.uk

Programmes can also be picked up from various venues including the Upcher Partnership Office at 3 Station Road, Sheringham and the Poppyland Partnership Office, Merchants' Place, 16 Church Street, Cromer NR27 9ES.