Communities given chance to take part in showpiece arts festival in Scarborough

Communities in Scarborough are being placed at the heart of a major new cultural festival to help inspire their creativity and instil a greater sense of civic pride in the seaside town.
Liberty Ingham, the daughter of the artist in residence at St Mary’s Church, Petra Ingham, looks at some of the artwork that was produced during a community workshop centred on the installation by international artist Peter Snijder.Liberty Ingham, the daughter of the artist in residence at St Mary’s Church, Petra Ingham, looks at some of the artwork that was produced during a community workshop centred on the installation by international artist Peter Snijder.
Liberty Ingham, the daughter of the artist in residence at St Mary’s Church, Petra Ingham, looks at some of the artwork that was produced during a community workshop centred on the installation by international artist Peter Snijder.

A series of events is being staged to engage with the public as part of the Scarborough Lights festival, which launched last week and runs until Saturday, December 23.

The event is the first showcase of a three-year cultural project, Scarborough Fair, which has the aim of engaging with local communities and nurturing a passion in the arts among its key ambitions.

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Workshops are being organised to allow families to take part in one of the showpiece community events, North Yorkshire’s largest live advent calendar in Scarborough’s streets and neighbourhoods. The free workshops are aimed at helping people learn new creative skills while decorating their homes and businesses in the run-up to the festive season.

Kate Hemingway and her daughter, Betty Peacock, at a workshop in Scarborough Spa for the advent calendar trail as part of the Scarborough Lights festival.Kate Hemingway and her daughter, Betty Peacock, at a workshop in Scarborough Spa for the advent calendar trail as part of the Scarborough Lights festival.
Kate Hemingway and her daughter, Betty Peacock, at a workshop in Scarborough Spa for the advent calendar trail as part of the Scarborough Lights festival.

Other community events include enhancing the illuminations for an annual lights display on vessels in Scarborough’s harbour, and also giving the opportunity for local artists to display their work alongside art from internationally-recognised figures.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for arts and culture, Cllr Simon Myers, said: “We hope that Scarborough Lights will be enjoyed by as many people as possible, and bring visitors to the town at what is traditionally a quiet time of year for tourism.

“However, the festival and the over-arching Scarborough Fair project is about so much more than that, as we want local communities to get involved and develop a real sense of pride in the place where they live and work.

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“It has been truly inspiring to see the effort that has gone in to engaging with local residents and businesses, and how people have immersed themselves in the ethos of the festival so far.”

The live advent calendar will run across residential streets in Scarborough throughout December, with as many as 1,500 households expected to be involved in lighting up their homes day by day. A competition is being held for the best dressed street, window and business, with the winners announced on Christmas Eve.

Free workshops have already been staged at Scarborough Spa and at the More Than Books Eastfield Library Community Hub. A final workshop is planned at the Spa at 11am on Sunday, November 26.

One of the main attractions is a new light installation, called The Fading Light of Ruins, by Flemish artist Peter Snijder which is at St Mary's Church until November 30.

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The festival is the world premiere of the artwork, which is themed around the long history of the church that dates back to the 12th century.

Mr Snijder collaborated with the church’s artist in residence, Petra Ingham, for free community workshops at the historic place of worship, allowing the public to immerse themselves in the illuminations and create art to echo the shape and lines of his work.

Ahead of the launch of Scarborough Lights on Wednesday, November 15, Mr Snijder said it was a “really exciting opportunity” to be involved in a new festival with such an impressive list of fellow artists.

Ms Ingham, who lives in Scarborough, said: “It has been a privilege to work alongside someone who is so respected as Peter to give the public the chance to get an insight into his installation in St Mary’s Church.

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“It is such a wonderful setting and Peter’s work is such a great example of the artworks that are on show around Scarborough. To have a world premiere of his work here in St Mary’s is such an amazing coup for the town, and it has helped to inspire everyone who attended the workshops.”

Scarborough Lights involves 20 events and light artworks from the UK and across Europe, many of which are in England for the first time, at 15 venues in the town. A total of 15 of the events and installations will have free admission. Of the five events that are paid for, two are set as ‘pay what you can’ for admission.

The free Ships Ahoy! event will see fishing vessels, yachts, cruisers and speed boats illuminated every evening until Christmas in Scarborough harbour, along with the town’s lighthouse.

Artworks that are being displayed by local artists include Drift-Lit which is being staged at Scarborough’s railway station from December 2 to 9. The exhibition has been created by a local artist, Paul Elsam, with sculptures made from driftwood found in Yorkshire that has been dried, cleaned and restored and then illuminated to create the light installation.

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Another work, called Grue, has been created by ARCADE, a community arts company based in Scarborough. The immersive installation has been built by the community and is made entirely from recycled and repurposed materials, and it will be shown to the public at Scarborough library from December 2 to 23.

A trail of illuminated artworks, called Signs of the Times, is on display around the town centre, celebrating some of Scarborough’s lesser-known places.

The trail, which has been created by local artist Adrian Riley, has been inspired by the stories of local people and includes glitzy signage that is reminiscent of Scarborough’s seafront displays.

The director of Scarborough Fair, Julian Caddy, said: “Collectively we have managed to create something that is so special for Scarborough, with local communities at the very heart of the event.

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“We need the public to engage with us to make Scarborough Lights a real success, and I have been so pleased to see just how much people have come on board in the first few days of the festival.

“The programme of events is so diverse and inspiring, and we hope that thousands more residents and visitors will see just what Scarborough Lights has to offer throughout the rest of the festival.”

The Scarborough Fair cultural initiative is being partly funded by £1.2 million from the Government’s Towns Fund programme to stage a total of 15 festivals over three years. North Yorkshire Council has also provided £750,000 in funding for Scarborough Fair over the same period.

The fair, which was last held in the 18th century, is being revived as a year-round programme of arts, heritage, music and sports events and is expected to run until 2026.

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The overarching strategy of the Scarborough Fair project is to bring significant economic benefits to the coast with better quality jobs and training as well as involving communities to help tackle social deprivation.

It is also hoped that the events will help create a year-round visitor economy for the county, which is a major ambition of North Yorkshire Council.

More information and tickets for Scarborough Lights are available by visiting www.scarboroughfair.uk online.