An annual street arts and circus festival attracting more than 40,000 attendees to Great Yarmouth every September, supporting the visitor economy and creative sector development in the town. This case study forms part of the Value of culture - regeneration section of our online Culture Hub.
Background and history
Seachange, a local arts development organisation, was originally appointed by Great Yarmouth Borough Council to lead the strategic arts development process for the area, culminating in an arts development strategy for the borough, published in 2007. The strategy specifically referenced development of a town festival.
In response to this aspiration, Seachange went on to develop and launch ‘Out There’ in 2008 – a festival focused on circus and street arts, which drew on the seaside town’s rich performance heritage and now attracts international street artists from across Europe. The festival has continued on an annual basis over the last decade, and in 2012 Seachange acquired the Drill House and subsequently secured Arts Council funding to renovate this into an international centre for circus and street arts.
- 2007 - Arts Development Strategy for Great Yarmouth published
- 2008 - First Out There Festival held
- 2012 - Drill House purchased
- 2017 - Grant from Arts Council England and Great Yarmouth Tourism and Business improvement area secured for 2018 festival
- September 2018 - 10th Out There Festival held
Delivery of activities
- Funding for purchase of Drill House
- £1.5 million from Arts Council England Annual funding for festivals (2017):
- Contributions from Arts Council England, Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area, ZEPA EU Interreg funding, trusts and foundations
- (Funding sources change markedly each year)
Out There is a free festival, held annually over a weekend in September. To encourage local engagement, events are hosted in public spaces, mainly outdoors. The festival has a diverse offering, with both local and international performances. This includes spectacle, comedy, performance incorporating community participation and hands-on activities.
The festival has also invested £1.5 million to renovate a Victorian Grade II listed building into the UK’s only creative production centre for street arts and contemporary circus. The Drill House is a dedicated circus and streets arts creation and training facility offering residencies to artists and companies from these and other disciplines, and providing a flexible venue for cultural, community and commercial uses including workshops, training, classes, meetings, events and private functions.
the festival created over £1.1 million of total economic activity in 2017
more than 40,000 participants attended, including 2,000 overnight stays in paid accommodation
supports skills development for circus and street arts performers through new facilities at Drill House
- £0.8 million additional visitor spend – generated from 40,000-plus participants and attendees annually, and including 2,000 overnight stays in paid accommodation, significantly boosting the local visitor economy
- over £1.1 million worth of economic activity – this refers to the overall amount of money that was spent due to the festival in 2017, including money spent by attendees and by the festival in delivery
- creative sector development – providing inspiration, networking and supporting skills development for circus and street arts performers, particularly through the new facilities at Drill House
- enhancing town image and community pride – the festival aims to develop a sense of vibrancy, enhancing the external image and sense of community pride in the town.
- International partnerships: with a niche cultural focus, the festival has been able to ensure a focused high-quality programme and establish international links that help to maintain the quality and originality of the annual programme. Engaging in these partnerships has also helped market the town to wider audiences in Europe.
- Building on the town’s history: the festival takes inspiration from the performative history of the town, as well as having a forward-thinking and contemporary edge. This has enabled the festival to be regenerative as it feels authentic, establishing buy-in and high levels of attendees from local communities, the wider Norwich area and visitors from further afield.
- Timing festivals to maximise economic benefits: the festival is strategically held in September to extend Great Yarmouth’s summer tourist economy, as well as holding night-time events to encourage visitors to stay for longer than a day.
The borough council sees continued investment in our cultural scene, and in the creative aspirations of everyone who lives here, as a core foundation of the borough’s success, helping to enhance the borough as a place where even more people choose to live, work, visit, spend their time and their money.
Councillor Graham Plant, Leader, Great Yarmouth Borough Council