Seachange Arts secures £180k boost to turn Great Yarmouth into UK’s circus capital
13:11 27 July 2012
AN ambitious bid to develop Great Yarmouth into the nation’s circus capital has been given a cash boost after the arts group behind the plans secured a £180,000 grant.
Seachange Arts is keen to develop the town into a wide-reaching centre for circus and street arts and wants the seaside resort to become synonymous with both forms of entertainment.
The grant from Arts Council England will go towards developing and staging the group’s annual arts extravaganza, the Out There Festival - which this year enjoys its biggest programme yet - and further strengthen Yarmouth’s position on the cultural map both nationally and abroad.
It will also support the group’s programme of activities and workshops, including parkour, circus skills, music and theatre, which they hold locally for youngsters and adults.
Seachange, an arts development charity, has been running Out There in the town for four years and in February moved into its first permanent residence, the Drill House - formerly Drill Hall - in York Road.
Joe Mackintosh, Seachange chief executive, said the combination of Yarmouth housing the historic Hippodrome, hosting Out There and the development of the Drill House gave a good base for it becoming the home of circus and street arts.
“The combination of all that does kind of mean that we have the ingredients to develop Yarmouth as the UK capital of circus, and that’s what we’re now doing,” he added. “And I think the significance of this grant is recognition of what we’re doing and the level it’s at - it’s of national significance.”
Seachange works with several circus groups and networks from across Europe and Mr Mackintosh said these partnerships were already starting to have a positive effect on Yarmouth’s standing on the international entertainment stage.
He added: “There’s a growing awareness of what’s happening in Yarmouth across Europe. Our profile in Europe has really, really gone up because people are talking about this great festival and rediscovering the venue in the Hippodrome so there’s quite a buzz about Yarmouth, and the grant will help build on that.”
Seachange is also working to turn the Drill House into a creative space, where visiting circus acts and street artists can come to develop new work, and a base for workshops and activities, open to the community.
The hope is that it will also help cement part of the town’s new cultural quarter along with the refurbished St George’s Theatre and St George’s Park.
Mr Mackintosh said it was “exciting times” for the charity and despite the economic gloom it was keen to push through with its plans to boost Yarmouth.
“It’s a tough climate out there and it’s not going to get particularly easier, but we’re being deliberately ambitious for Yarmouth because Yarmouth has had a rough ride for many, many years. We have to compete with everywhere else that has a strong arts offer, like Norwich, but it’s important Yarmouth has that kind of offer.”
The Out There Festival runs from September 4 - 9. For more information and programme details visit www.seachangearts.org.uk/out-there-2012