BLYTH TALL SHIPS: Sailing ahead with artistic plans at Regatta

Headway Arts PrintAble group planning the next stages of their Tall Ships themed artworks. Picture by Headway Arts.Headway Arts PrintAble group planning the next stages of their Tall Ships themed artworks. Picture by Headway Arts.
Headway Arts PrintAble group planning the next stages of their Tall Ships themed artworks. Picture by Headway Arts.
An exciting cultural programme of events for The North Sea Tall Ships Regatta Blyth 2016 is set to sail ahead thanks to support from the Arts Council England.

Regatta organisers have secured £120,000 from Arts Council England’s National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts programme to support the plans which include the re-imagining of Blyth Carnival which last took place in the late 1980s.

The grant will also support three large scale evening performances of music, image and pyrotechnics complemented by international street theatre, music and circus over the August bank holiday event.

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Northumberland County Council, in partnership with the Port of Blyth and Sail Training International, is hosting the prestigious Regatta, with Fergusons of Blyth the principal sponsor.

Headway Arts, an arts organisation based in Blyth, will be leading on the re-imagining of the Carnival, and would like to involve local people of all ages and experience to work alongside their company of professional artists to help create and paint decorative sails, and design costumes and giant puppets on the themes of ‘Sagas of the Seven Seas’ for the Carnival procession.

Anyone interested in getting involved will be able to join the Carnival club workshops which begin in June at Headway ArtSpace every Tuesday from 4pm to 7pm.

People taking part will be able to join the Carnival procession and the spectacular Crew Parade which takes place on the Saturday afternoon at the Regatta.

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Allie Walton-Robson, creative director at Headway Arts, said: “We have had lots of requests to revive the popular Blyth Carnival Parade and the Regatta seemed like a fantastic catalyst to do this – it’s a chance for us to show off our great creative community.

“We have a partner organisation in Sweden, which is where the Tall Ships are heading after the Regatta, helping us to give the event a Swedish flavour.

“We’d love to hear from individuals, dance, arts and musical groups who’d like to make a costume or join our community band or participate in a colourful parade.

“We are also launching our newly refurbished ArtSpace – so it’s all very exciting and we are looking forward to giving visitors to the Tall Ships a proper Northumbrian welcome.”

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Jane Tarr, Director North, Arts Council England: “I’m delighted that we have funded the cultural programme for The North Sea Tall Ships Regatta Blyth through our National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts programme. I’m looking forward to the Carnival and hope people in and around Blyth will support it too.

“I think Headway’s Swedish partnership is very exciting and Tall Ships is a great opportunity for all of us to build on our links with West Sweden. I just hope the sun shines.”

Headway is also organising a Fringe Festival during the August bank holiday weekend that will feature local musicians and their own Seven Stars Theatre Company, and the Bell and Bullock Circus Theatre.

Also underway is the development of an Arts Trail featuring a wide range of venues in Blyth, Newbiggin and Seaton Sluice. Participating venues on the trail will showcase local artists’ work which will also be available for purchase. A free map of the trail will be produced for visitors to follow.

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Coun Val Tyler, cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture at the county council, said: “We are delighted to have the support of the Arts Council and this is a very exciting opportunity to revive the Blyth Carnival and showcase Northumberland art.”

“Community art is all about participation and we would really like to encourage as many residents and community groups as possible to join in and add to the creative artistic mix for the Tall Ships Regatta and the revival of the Carnival.”

Martin Lawlor, chief executive at the Port of Blyth, said: “These local collaborative projects are a great way to bring back the Blyth Carnival and celebrate the Tall Ships Regatta in Northumberland, and reflect the international nature of this exciting event.”

Up to 30 Tall Ships are expected to gather at Blyth for the Regatta which will feature five zones of free family fun and entertainment across the town.

For further information, contact Headway Arts via email [email protected] or telephone 01670 351962.