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Seven years of Out There fun in Great Yarmouth - and how you can get involved in 2014

17:54 20 August 2014

Generik Vapeur at Out There, 2010. Picture: David Street

Generik Vapeur at Out There, 2010. Picture: David Street

David Street

When the weird and wonderful happenings of 2014’s Out There Festival takes over Great Yarmouth next month it will mark seven years of evolution for the extravaganza and the group behind it.

What’s new for 2014

■ Out There goes massively participatory this year with nearly 1,000 people being sort to support the festival and join in with shows; singing, dancing and creating wonderful decorations

■ It is also exploring new spaces as it continues to spread across town. This year Regent Road hosts several shows and Stars Showbar welcomes performance and cabaret on the Saturday

■ Around 60 of the UK and Europe’s leading producers, promoters and artists will visit Great Yarmouth for a conference as part of the festival. Intended to become an annual fixture and the country’s major professional event, delegates will enjoy some of the town’s highlights and discuss new projects and opportunities

For more information about how you can get involved visit www.outtherefestival.co.uk and click on the ‘Join In’ tab.

More than 50 acts and 200 artists from the world of street arts and circus will descend on the town for four days of spectacular acrobatics, entertainment and interactive fun, from September 17 to 21.

The festival annually draws thousands of people to Yarmouth and since its conception, it has gained an international reputation for its exciting programming, innovative partnerships and community involvement.

And its standing has now seen Seachange Arts, the organisation behind it, rewarded with three years of investment from Arts Council England as one of its National Portfolio Organisations.

Working at the time as a community arts organisation, the festival was conceived by Seachange chief executive Joe Mackintosh as a showcase for the group’s year round work.

A poster for Out There 2010. Picture: suppliedA poster for Out There 2010. Picture: supplied

Featuring music, visual and digital arts and a modest programme of street arts the first Out There was held in 2008.

Mr Mackintosh said: “The one thing that really engaged local people and got them truly excited was the street arts programme. The reaction was amazing. Everyone from grannies to children joining in, laughing and celebrating together.”

Audiences of 15,000 enjoyed the first festival based in what has become its long term home, St George’s Park.

It aimed then, as now, to develop a sense of community, celebrate Yarmouth’s growing internationalism and enhance its image to bring in new visitors and investment.

A poster for Out There2012A poster for Out There2012

For 2009 the festival evolved into a dedicated circus and street arts festival.

“It seemed a logical progression,” said Mr Mackintosh. “We were responding to audiences and building on Great Yarmouth’s rich circus and entertainment heritage with a new, contemporary twist thanks to some of the international partnerships we were developing at the same time.”

Those links have seen Seachange work with some of the leading street arts and circus organisations on the continent, and enabled them to bring iconic acts to Yarmouth, and by 2010 Out There was a major event on the national circuit.

Nearly 50,000 people witnessed that year’s extravaganza, 10,000 of them crowding onto the seafront to enjoy Générik Vapeur’s street show Bivouac, which saw an army of barrel-carrying men perform jaw dropping stunts as they marched along the golden mile.

Mr Mackintosh added: “Bivouac was very much what Out There is all about and a personal highlight. Vibrant, anarchic and involving the local population, this pyrotechnic masterpiece left electricity in the air and thousands of mouths agape.”

Générik Vapeur returned in 2012 to construct a 60ft iron robot for the Waterlitz show, which was commissioned by Seachange, and the festival also began to explore more spaces, with the Hippodrome welcoming an Out There show for the first time.

It was also a record year for audience numbers, attracting an estimated 70,000 people.

As the festival has grown, so has Seachange’s role and reputation and last year’s programme reflected the group’s growing stature, with around 16 companies presenting work supported or produced by them with several created, in part, in Yarmouth.

And with Arts Council England support for the next three years Seachange has begun mapping out the future of the festival and the organisation.

“While the key local support is there we will continue to grow the festival. Spreading activities further across town and creating new opportunities for local artists,” Mr Mackintosh added. “We want Out There in 2017 to be the UK’s largest festival with audiences topping 100,000.”

■ Out There runs from September 17 - 21. For more details visit www.outtherefestival.com

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