Out There festival gets underway

Stephen Pullinger With four days of non-stop fun - from zany street acts to a Brazilian-style carnival show and even a Market Place art class in horse life drawing - the Out There festival in Yarmouth should draw thousands of spectators.

Stephen Pullinger

Out There, Norfolk's newest arts festival, gets under way today and the man who inspired it was yesterday going through his mental checklist.

The tented festival village was already going up in Yarmouth Market Place, scaffolding had been put up for projections on to the Town Hall and artists had arrived from every corner of Europe and beyond.

After more than a year of planning and ingenious fundraising to cover the £180,000 cost, the one thing still troubling Joe Mackintosh, chief executive of the SeaChange Arts charity, seemed mercifully trivial: what had happened to a piece of old ironing board?

The piece of metal - part of a percussion instrument in an orchestra created out of rubbish recycled from the Caister municipal tip - had apparently gone astray on the journey from Yarmouth College to the Hippodrome.

Portuguese “sound sculptor” Joao Ricardo, who made the instruments with the help of college students, will be performing at the Hippodrome tonight, at the festival's launch event, Four Corners in the Round, alongside musicians from the illustrious Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

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As a total musical contrast, the Darkness successor band, Stone Gods, will be playing tonight, Thursday, October 30, at the Ocean Room, in Gorleston.

With four days of non-stop fun - from zany street acts to a Brazilian-style carnival show and even a Market Place art class in horse life drawing - Mr Mackintosh is hoping that the festival will draw thousands of spectators from all over East Anglia.

And the Market Place is expected to be packed on Saturday for the 6pm tightrope walk by Frenchman Didier Pasquette, acknowledged as the world's leading high wire act, and on Sunday for a free international music festival, drawing artists from as far afield as Zimbabwe and Iceland.

Mr Mackintosh, who has joined Yarmouth to the Zepa (Zone European Projets Artistique) Partnership of street arts festivals across the Continent, said: “The feedback I have been getting is great. Everyone is saying this is so good for Yarmouth and that is the best thing I could hear.”

He said a heartening aspect of the festival was the willingness of local people to participate, including members of the town's migrant communities.

“People have been coming out of the woodwork. One Portuguese man who has been helping Dende with their carnival-style show works at Bernard Matthews, but in a previous life he was a set designer for the national theatre in Lisbon,” he said.

Mr Mackintosh already has plans to make Out There an annual event and is hopeful of clinching a further e1.2m of EU funding in February to secure it for the next four years.

He said: “We are bound to learn this year what sort of things work best. In future years, I am keen to build on local community participation and I am also interested in the cross-over between art and sport, especially with the Olympics approaching.”

He added that he had already begun discussing with the town's tourism team how some of the European money might be spent on bringing events to the resort at other times of the year as well.

t For full programme, visit www.outtherefestival.com.