Festival aims to put Yarmouth on the map

Hayley Mace European funding and links with international theatre and art groups look set to help a major new arts festival put Yarmouth firmly on the cultural map.

Hayley Mace

European funding and links with international theatre and art groups look set to help a major new arts festival put Yarmouth firmly on the cultural map.

Big name musical acts, street art and a Brazilian-style carnival will all feature in the town's first Out There festival in October, being organised by SeaChange Arts. And now the Yarmouth-based charity has got together with a network of European festival organisers to make sure that the event does the town justice.

Groups from France, Portugal, Spain and Holland have joined forces to bid for more than 8m euros of European Union funding and SeaChange Arts is one of only three UK-based organisations to be in line for a share of the money.

SeaChange chief executive Joe Mackintosh said the group could get about £75,000 a year from European funding, which would help to set up the Out There festival and build a network of performers.

He said: "This is a very exciting development. We want to reach as wide an audience as possible, it's not just going to be high-brow performances in concert halls. We want to do something different rather than emulate festivals elsewhere. Yarmouth is a wonderfully diverse place with a large European population and we want to celebrate that.

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"We have some very unusual outdoor spaces which we want to make the most of, like the market place and the promenade, as well as some of the most prestigious historic venues of any seaside town."

Mr Mackintosh said that many French festivals celebrated regeneration in industrial towns - something which he was keen to replicate in Yarmouth.

He added: "When I met up with representatives from the other members of the network, there was a real philosophical link between the French festivals, such as those in Lille or Lens, and what we're trying to do in Yarmouth. It's an old industrial town but it has so much going for it, we want to show it off."

The Out There festival will take place between October 25 and November 2, with community-based events taking place throughout the autumn. Although the programme for this year's debut festival has not yet been released, Mr Mackintosh said that he has been in negotiations with household names from the world of pop music, as well as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The aim is to build the event up over the next two or three years and eventually draw more than 100,000 visitors into the town.