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Big Ideas by the Sea has a new development this year – we have been awarded an Arts Council National Lottery Project Grant for a programme of public engagement through the arts (to be called BigReach 24) to support the festival and particularly to reach out to schools and community groups –

many of whom might face barriers to taking part in enjoyable cultural things without a bit of encouragement.


There is a writer (Charlotte Oliver), a visual artist (Petra Ingham), a glass artist (Rachel Welford) and an improvised music specialist (Captain Anthony Springall) working with different groups, plus a night showcasing local community choirs, led by Gillian Edwards and Mark Gordon. Also, Rowena Sommerville, BigReach 24 programme manager, is making contact with cultural and festival organisations in some of the world’s other Scarborough's – in America, Australia, Canada, South Africa and several Caribbean islands – to see if we can get to know some global Scarborough-

based colleagues (and thanks to BIBTS videographer Matt Cooper for helping with this).

There are some activities that are open to the public to join in with, so please check the timetable on this website to find out when and where those are happening. Big thanks to Arts Council England and to all players of the National Lottery for helping us make this happen!

Matt Cooper:

Matthew Cooper is a freelance photographer and documentary filmmaker from Scarborough, North Yorkshire. His work focusses on telling stories from the North East, particularly in the Arts and non-profit sectors. His work aims to show the connections between people as they work and live together, showing an authentic view of the North East. Matt works across the whole BIBTS festival and also will be creating a short film for the ‘Scarboroughs’ project, through which we hope to make contact with arts and cultural organisations in the twelve (at least) other Scarboroughs in the world!



Gillian Edwards:

Gillian will be leading the Big Sing Choirs’ Night event (31.05.24). Gillian Edwards has been involved in community music-making for many years, having taught music in schools and conducted youth and community bands at Whitby Music Centre as a member of the County Music Service. She directs a mixed-voice choir, and enjoys creating bespoke arrangements of all kinds of songs to suit the singers. She is delighted to be involved in this exciting project, bringing together local choirs to raise their voices in song at St Mary’s Church. 



Petra Ingham:

Visual Artist Petra Ingham will be working for BigReach – BIBTS’ outreach programme - running a series of workshops in response to the Archaeological finds from the Big Dig. This year she will also be inviting the schools, colleges and community to take part in the ‘Big Thought Wave’: a collaborative, suspended installation, in response to our thoughts and feelings around the sea. Works created will be displayed in St Mary’s Church throughout the festival, as it grows and as more people add to it, through pre-arranged workshop sessions and through the public drop-ins – check the BIBTS timetable for dates and times.

      Additionally, Petra – whose studio is actually in St Mary’s Church - will be part of North Yorkshire Open Studios, with the preview evening on Friday 31st May 6-9pm.



Charlotte Oliver:

Charlotte Oliver is a poet who lives on the Yorkshire Coast. Her work has been published widely and placed in a number of national competitions. An Ilkley Literature Festival New Northern Poet 2023, her debut pamphlet is How To Be A Dressing Gown (Dreich). She is happiest by or in the sea.

      For Big Ideas by the Sea/ BigReach 24, Charlotte will be working with local school students and members of community groups, creating poems about paradise, about the Big Dig discoveries in (Scarborough’s own) Paradise, and about the sea and coast (could be a paradise). Charlotte will be offering some public drop-in sessions – please see the festival timetable – and will be hosting a poetry and music event in St Mary’s Church on Monday 21st May.



Rowena Sommerville:

Rowena Sommerville has worked in the arts all her life, as a writer, illustrator and singer, and for many years in arts management, including ten years running Tees Valley Arts. Rowena was a founder member of acappella band Henwen, and they retired in 2023, after thirty years of singing and performing together. Rowena works behind the scenes for Big Ideas by the Sea, and she is managing the BigReach programme.



Captain Antony Springall:

Anthony Springall – Captain Ant – is a Scarborough born artist, cake maker, theremin player and instigator of collaborative happenings, including the ever-popular Yorkshire Beard Day. In BIBTS 2023 he conducted ‘Resonance’, a sound exploration of St Mary’s Church, and this year he will lead on something slightly similar (26.05.24), a semi-improvised celebration of ‘Paradise’. He has a studio on Scarborough West Pier and is a founder member of Cardboard Cyborg, a live electronic music collective. 

      Please get in touch via the website if you would like to join him in making music in Paradise.



Rachel Welford:

Rachel Welford is an artist and an avid sea swimmer. She works primarily with glass, exploring light, transparency, reflectivity and ephemerality, often with the sea as subject matter. She sees her current artwork as more of a collaboration with the sea than a representation of it, using the properties and action of water in the creation of her images.

     For BIBTS/ BigReach 24 Rachel will be talking to sea users of all kinds, from happy paddlers, to brave sea-swimmers, to harbour workers and fishermen, about what they get from the sea, and what they think the sea is telling us – and then working with some of them to turn those thoughts and feeling into glass pieces, which will be exhibited in St Mary’s Church during the festival.



The Big Sing – Choirs’ Night 31.05.24

BIBTS Choirs’ Night, 31.05.24 St Mary’s Church, 8pm, will bring together at least three choirs – Coastal Voices (from Bridlington), Fylingdales Folk Choir, and the Funky Tuesday Choir (from Scarborough) and maybe more…  to each perform some of their own material and then to close the night singing a couple of songs all together in massed voices! The evening will be the uplifting and joyous final event of Big Ideas by the Sea 2024. It will surely be glorious, a treat for the ears and the soul.

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