Photo gallery: Two festivals and an art gallery are in the running for Norfolk arts award

A north Norfolk art gallery and two of the county's festivals are the people's choice when it comes to the cream of the Norfolk arts world.

The EDP People's Choice Award is part of the inaugural Norfolk Arts Awards, which will open the Hostry Festival this month at Norwich Cathedral's Hostry.

The category was the chance for our readers to have their say about who they think are the shining stars of the county's arts scene, with hundreds of entrants all nominated by the public and a shortlist of 10 put up for a public vote online.

With the voting now closed, the EDP can reveal that the final three in the running for the EDP People's Choice award are: Gallery Plus in Wells, which is run by Trevor and Joanna Woods; the Great Yarmouth-based Out Theatre Festival, run by SeaChange Arts; and the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

The ultimate winner will be announced at the awards ceremony next Friday.

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Peter Beck, founder of the Norfolk Arts Awards, said: 'We've been thrilled by the response to the EDP People's Choice Award. In the second round of voting alone we've had over 3,000 votes.

'The fact that the top three organisations are from such far flung parts of Norfolk underlines the impact they're making to people's lives in every corner of this vibrant county.'

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He added: 'It is a great testament to these organisations that they have so many supporters and followers recognising their hard work.'

• SeaChange Arts' Out There Festival in Great Yarmouth

A huge 60ft robot, giant insects, and a thrilling acrobatic show on a 10 metre-high wheel of death were among the crazy sights and strange happenings in Great Yarmouth for this year's annual Out There International Festival of Circus and Street Arts.

Organised by SeaChange Arts, this year the festival was celebrating its fifth year and it assembled an impressive, eclectic and zany worldwide cast of performers to entertain more than 60,000 festival-goers who came to watch the six-day event.

Out There is now the largest festival of its kind in the east of England and one of the largest in the country.

One of the 2012 festival highlights was Waterlitz by Generik Vapeur – a spectacular aerial ballet and light show took place against the backdrop of a 65ft high giant.

Joe Mackintosh, chief executive of SeaChange Arts, said: 'We're absolutely delighted to have made the final three.

'This year's festival was the biggest and best yet with our largest crowds, some truly breathtaking shows and great weather.

'To top it off with an award would be a wonderful endorsement – not just for our small team, but for all the volunteers, artists and partners who helped make Out There 2012 such a success.

'It's significant that this is the People's Choice Award.

'Out There was conceived to be a giant celebration of and for the diverse communities of Great Yarmouth. Each year we endeavour to involve many local people in the running of the festival, many more work on performances showcased in the festival. It's therefore very rewarding to be recognised by the most important judges – our audience.'

• Wells-based Gallery Plus

In a north Norfolk coastal town artist Trevor Woods and his wife Joanna have built up an inspiring gallery that has captivated the imagination of many.

Gallery Plus, in Wells, was set up in 2009. The gallery features ever-changing displays that show the work of a wide range of artists based in Norfolk and beyond.

Original paintings, prints, ceramics, sculpture, jewellery and more adorn the gallery space, and Gallery Plus's latest major exhibition – Terry Bestwick: Borders – opens tomorrow.

Trevor said: 'We like to include a mixture of local artists, and artists from further afield, and we try to chose artists and artwork you would not necessarily see in Norfolk.

'The feedback we have had is that it is quite refreshing coming into the gallery.'

As Gallery Plus's name suggests, the centre is also more than just a gallery.

With Trevor's own studio on-site, visitors can watch him at work as he creates his acrylic paintings of local and London scenes, and the gallery also offers a picture framing service.

About being one of the final three in the EDP People's Choice Award, Trevor said: 'It is amazing, especially because we have been open for quite a short space of time. Thanks to everyone who voted for us.

'It is brilliant and it also comes on the back of winning the best gallery 2012 in North Norfolk The Guide's Gold Stars Awards. That was amazing as well.

'What is especially nice is that we know we have been voted for by people coming through the door of the gallery, and that is really nice to know.

'It feels like quite an achievement in such a short space of time.'

• Norfolk and Norwich Festival

From giant prehistoric beasts to a special performance where Norfolk folk were the stars of the show, the city and county enjoyed 16 days of art-filled fun during the Norfolk and Norwich Festival in May.

More than 80,000 people saw, or took part in, a festival event, and among the 2012 highlights were the prehistoric antics of Erth's Dinosaur Petting Zoo, the dream-inspired AirHotel which sprung up in the grounds of Holt Hall, and the Garden Party and Festival Feast that both saw Norwich's Chapelfield Gardens host weird and wonderful acts.

Meanwhile cutting edge art appeared in unusual places, and 100 Norfolk people took to the Theatre Royal stage for 100pc Norfolk, a show celebrating our great county.

The NNF, which also organises the Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios and does arts work with schools, was also responsible for two events in the Cultural Olympiad – How Like An Angel at Norwich Cathedral combined contemporary circus with choral singing, while Robert Wilson's Walking saw part of the north Norfolk coast transformed with a series of art installations.

Patrick Dickie, NNF associate director, said the organisation's aim was to bring world class art to Norfolk and reach as many people across the county as possible.

About the festival being one of the three finalists for the EDP People's Choice Award, he said: 'We are completely delighted and the first thing to say is a huge thank you to all the people of Norwich and Norfolk, particularly those who have voted for us.

The festival's aim is to reach the broadest possible audiences in Norfolk and Norwich, and particularly those who do not usually get to experience art.

'To be nominated for the EDP People's Choice Award is really gratifying.

'It is an endorsement of the work we do with the support of the city and county councils and all our other sponsors and supporters.'

The EDP People's Choice Award is one of a number of accolades being presented at the Norfolk Arts Awards to recognise the great talent across the arts in Norfolk. The event is at 7pm for a 7.30pm start on Friday, October 26. A limited number of extra tickets have just been released for the event. Tickets �20. To book call 01603 218450.


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