Whitby arts festival image one Whitby arts festival image one

Culture on coast heralded as key to supporting communities

A new arts festival has been launched in the latest boost to culture on North Yorkshire’s coast in a concerted campaign to improve opportunities for communities and support the local economy.

The new festival is taking place in Whitby throughout March and is one of several cultural events which are being supported by North Yorkshire Council in seaside towns.

The Living on the Edge of the World festival has been organised by Flash Company Arts supported by £25,000 from the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF), along with a further £25,000 in match-funding.

The festival is one of several cultural endeavours on the coast supported by government funding via the council.

North Yorkshire Council’s leader, Cllr Carl Les, who is also the chair of the SPF’s board in North Yorkshire, said: “There are many fantastic artists and creators along our coastline and it’s great to see this funding support them to be ambitious in their ideas.

“I hope these events will not only entertain but also inspire our community and open the doors to the vibrant cultural scene in Whitby.

“Culture and the arts are so important not just to enjoy, but they help people feel proud of the places where they live and work. We hope that by bringing these events to the coast, it will also attract visitors and bring new opportunities to support the local economy too.

“I would encourage everyone to go along to an event or visit a workshop and give something creative a try.”

Other cultural projects which are being staged on the coast include two initiatives, Wild Eye and Scarborough Fair, which have been supported by the Government’s Town Deals Fund. The Wild Eye project was allocated £1.4 million from the Towns Fund and brings together leading artists, business, scientists and communities to create a series of events, artworks and experiences to connect people with nature and raise awareness of climate issues.

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Scarborough Fair is a programme of arts, heritage and sporting events throughout the town which will see 15 festivals staged over three years. The next event, an International Street Arts Festival, will take place from May 4 to 6.

Throughout this month, a diverse programme of events and artistic experiences is taking place in The Living on the Edge of the World festival in Whitby and the surrounding area to celebrate the town’s life and heritage.

The festival launched with a singing workshop, an evening concert and a tin artwork workshop over its opening weekend.

The artistic director at Flash Company Arts, Rebecca Denniff, said: “Throughout March there are various activities happening and we really see this as a pilot, because we would love for it to be something that can be repeated drawing other sponsors and funders.

“The theme is living on the edge of the world because sometimes that’s how it can feel out here on the coast. We want to really bring attention to the rich culture and intangible cultural heritage that there is in the area.”

Flash Company Arts, a community interest company which runs two artistic venues in Whitby alongside a community fridge and café, was formed in 2018 as an arts organisation and has evolved its work over the past seven years to include community development projects, and is particularly inspired by the community’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Denniff said: “We kept waiting for something to happen in Whitby, but we just thought, we’ve got to be the catalyst.

“The SPF money has been absolutely amazing. Without it the festival would have been much more conceptual. It means that we can create free events for people to take part in that ordinarily they would have to pay money for and therefore would be excluded from.

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“Arts are about people and we’re passionate about inclusion and participation. We’re doing things with and for young people as well and it makes a difference, it lifts people up to where they’re supposed to be.”

The festival is supporting local artists to host workshops and is running a story, songwriter and poetry challenge throughout the month where people are invited to submit original work based on the theme of ‘living on the edge of the world’. All submissions will be included in a publication of images and text from the month of activities.

Entries to the soundscape challenge will be included in a digital audio release and played as part of an immersive installation the artist Andi Walker will create in Flowergate Old Chapel on Saturday, March 30.

For more information about the programme of cultural events in Whitby, visit the festival’s website https://edge-of-the-world-festival.art/ or follow them on social media for updates and announcements.

North Yorkshire Council has a variety of grant and support schemes for businesses and community groups through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. More information is available at https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/community-and-volunteering/grants-and-funding/uk-shared-prosperity-fund-0 online.

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