Coasters Touring Network Livens Up Coastal Towns in UK with Circus - CircusTalk

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Coasters Touring Network Livens Up Coastal Towns in UK with Circus

This press release is from Coaster, a three year project that brings world-class circus and street arts work to coastal towns across England as a part of Seachange Arts. Coasters is supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund.

A top notch line-up of world-class circus and outdoor arts companies, from home and abroad, will be enthralling and entertaining mass audiences at 19 locations around the English coastline this year, thanks to the Coasters Touring Network.

Companies selected to be part of Coasters will be an essential part of free outdoor festivals and events taking place from Tyneside to Dorset, Blackpool to Margate and all points in between, including Freedom Festival in Hull, the 2017 UK City of Culture.

Circus and street performance are part of the heritage of English seaside holidaymaking.

The season’s programme kicks off at the end of June at the SO Festival in Lincolnshire and comes to a close in November at the magical Lightpool Festival in Blackpool.

Some of our traditional seaside towns are rated as amongst the most deprived in the country with high levels of unemployment. Coasters, a three-year project led by SeaChange Arts in Great Yarmouth, funded by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund, unites 12 partners ranging from local authorities to independent arts organisations. Sharing their resources and experience they have created a network that provides high quality cultural activity and entertainment around the English coastline, with the aim of attracting visitors, enhancing the sense of pride and place of residents and boosting local economies. Each of the partners already run successful events and festivals in their regions and Coasters enhances those events through the inclusion of jointly selected indoor and outdoor touring shows that are inspired by coastal locations and relevant to local audiences.

Gorilla Circus performing the crane dive.

In 2016, the first year of the project, over 500,000 people enjoyed Coasters partner events with 96% of visitors rating the Coasters element as good or very good. At the Out There International Festival of Circus and Street Arts in Great Yarmouth an economic impact study showed that the festival directly contributed almost £1,200,000 to the local economy.

Joe Mackintosh, Director of SeaChange Arts said ‘Circus and street performance are part of the heritage of English seaside holidaymaking.  Coasters shows look to celebrate this but bring a contemporary perspective to it.  Through performance and associated development projects in each location, we’re seeking to change people’s perceptions of culture on the coast, develop their arts infrastructure and build lasting relationships with partners and audiences.’

Amanda O’Reilly, Head of Culture, for Adur and Worthing Council added ‘Being part of the Coasters network has enabled us to attract circus and street arts events which we would not have been able to bring to the town otherwise. The contacts we have gained are excellent and last year’s Summer of Circus, which featured Coasters events, brought 33% new audiences and accompanying secondary spend to Worthing and the local area.”

Amongst the ten Associate Companies’ who will work with Coasters partners in 2017 are Newcastle based story-led hip hop dance theatre creators Southpaw Dance. Speak Easy, their recreation of the classic tale of Faust, features a fantastic 1920s themed set with breakdance and swing styles dancing. Dutch based Cirque du Platzak are an international cast of performers who mix folk music with traditional and innovative circus techniques in a style likened to the dark side of a Grimm’s fairy tale. The associate artist roster also includes Acrojou, who use specially engineered physical structures and movement to tell eloquent non-verbal human stories, the high-flying Gorilla Circus, female French/English duo Spitz & Co, puppet maestros Pickled Image and Matthew Harrison’s Actual Reality Arcade – a hands on interactive installation based on classic video games. There’s the spectacular drum and light spectacles of World Beaters, and Ragroof Players ‘Bridges Y Puentes’ incorporates dance, spoken word, music and song from around the world to look at migration and the search for home.

Coasters has this year begun to support the development of new work, beginning with a pioneering collaboration between two of Europe’s most in demand outdoor arts companies, the masterly percussive Worldbeaters from the north of England and Germany’s Dundu who specialise in giant puppets. Together they are creating an ambitious night-time promenade spectacle for audiences of up to 5,000 that will tour to Coasters events and other festivals in the UK and beyond. Giant illuminated puppets will roam and interact with the audience, set to a dynamic and suitably loud musical soundscape inspired by Latin America and West Africa.


Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “Coasters is an exciting project and we’re really pleased that organisastions from all parts of England have chosen to be partners. Our seaside towns have a wonderful heritage as visitor destinations. Coasters’ ground breaking new circus and street arts performances offer a wonderful way to reignite our passion for heading to these coastal towns. I look forward to it strengthening the local arts offer, whilst also creating a lasting legacy of increased visitor numbers.”

The Coasters Network has its origins in the pioneering work of Seachange Arts in Great Yarmouth, an arts development organisation that uses circus and street arts as a tool to engage local, regional and national audiences in the resort, particularly through the Out There International Festival of Circus and Street Arts.

Events 2017 and Programme

Worthing TheatresSummer of Circus June – August

So FestivalSkegness and Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire June/July

Activate, DorsetPommery Seafood Festival Weymouth July, Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival October

Dreamland MargateEvents from July – September

Mouth of the Tyne FestivalJuly

Hastings Borough CouncilSt Leonards Festival, July and Hastings, Stade Saturdays June to October

LeftcoastLightpool October – November

Freedom FestivalHull September

Seachange ArtsOut There Festival Great Yarmouth September

Theatre OrchardWeston Super Mare Tropicana September – October


Featured image of Gorilla Circus performing a crane dive.