New North Walsham festival bids to shake off apathy

EARLIER YEARS: North Walsham's 2004 carnival procession. EARLIER YEARS: North Walsham's 2004 carnival procession.

Thursday, July 31, 2014
6:00 AM

A six-day North Walsham Festival is set to be launched, including a walking carnival procession, in a bid to shake the town out of its apathy.

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Joe Ballard, director of the town’s Atrium, also has plans to introduce a lantern parade to this year’s Christmas lights switch-on celebrations.

He is hoping crowds will flock to an open day next week to find out more, try out a range of free activities, meet local authors and special guest Steve Hackett, former member of rock supergroup, Genesis.

Mr Ballard and his Atrium team plan to organise the festival in the run up to next June’s North Walsham Fun Day afternoon on the Memorial Park.

Ideas include a bands’ night, theatre, concert, and art show.

Artists would work with local schools helping them create costumes, puppets and visual effects for the procession through town to the park.

And Mr Ballard, 31, said fun day attractions would also include a festival tent, featuring cabaret and acoustic music.

“There is a lot of apathy in North Walsham and we want to combat it by working with the town. We can’t do everything for North Walsham but we want to create a spark and, hopefully, people will develop it into a flame. There is a lot of talent out there,” he said.

If the procession kindled enthusiasm, he hoped townsfolk would help in future so that eventually a carnival parade with floats could once again take to the streets of North Walsham.

Apathy and a lack of volunteers were blamed for bringing North Walsham’s annual carnival to an end six years ago. Organisers of this year’s North Walsham Fun Day, first launched in 2010, have also struggled to find enough help to run the event.

Mr Ballard said The Atrium team would also work with schools in the run-up to Christmas, helping them make paper lanterns for a procession to the Market Cross on switch-on evening.

“North Walsham is the biggest market town in north Norfolk and I want people to be proud of it,” he added.

A strategic review for The Atrium, funded by a £15,000 North Norfolk District Council Big Society Grant, had revealed that people wanted “good old-fashioned, grass roots, community arts activities.”

The Atrium open day, on Saturday August 9 from 10am-4pm, will include drama sessions, zumba, bellydancing, cookery, ballroom for beginners, streetdance, a photography workshop, DJ workshop, and a book fair, organised by the town’s Showcase Gallery where a range of local authors will be signing their books.

They include Keith Skipper and Joanna Lehmann-Hackett, who is married to musician Steve Hackett. Mr Hackett will be signing copies of the DVD Genesis Revisited.

There will also be a screening at 11am of the film Muppets Most Wanted, £3, parents and guardians free.

■ For details of The Atrium’s summer family-friendly workshops, visit www.theatrium.org.uk or ring 01692 400080.

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