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Norfolk and Norwich Festival launches the 2014 programme – including the brand new ‘It’s Your Festival’!

  • Date: 14 March 2014
  • Area: South East
curious directive's Pioneer

curious directive's Pioneer. Credit: Jasmine Robinson

Norfolk and Norwich Festival (NNF) 2014 begins Friday 9 May and runs through to Sunday 25 May. As one of the big four arts festivals in the UK, this is a very special event for the East of England and showcases our extraordinary local talent shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the world's most renowned artists.

The Festival is supported by Arts Council England through the National portfolio programme, alongside the Festival's other supporters, which includes Norwich City Council and Norfolk County Council.

Norfolk and Norwich Festival is an exciting and important part of the Arts Council's investment in the East of England, bringing together a diverse mix of local, regional, national and international work - much of which is either new, or previously unseen in the UK. In 2013, more than 66,000 people attended the Festival - generating more than £2.3million for the local economy and creating 20 full time and 85 part time jobs.

The Festival connects the outstanding cultural ecology of the city with the wider county and beyond - drawing in audiences and artists from the local community through to those who travel the length and breadth of the country and beyond. The Festival, which has strong roots in Norwich, is also continuing to expand its footprint across the region, with Kings Lynn and Great Yarmouth becoming increasingly important destinations during the festival period.

A new partnership this year with South Norfolk District Council will also see the Festival explore how it can increase opportunities to engage with new audiences in the region through an enhanced programme of work in Diss, Loddon and Wymondham.

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: 'Norfolk & Norwich Festival offers a great platform for some of the East's most talented new artists and organisations to be showcased alongside some of the world's most established stars. The Festival is a beacon of cultural inspiration and excellence to entertain and inspire audiences; it is also of significant economic value to the county, the region and beyond.'

In this year's Festival NNF will continue its outstanding reputation for putting on a wide-ranging selection of exciting and engaging performances, productions, events and exhibitions. From free outdoor spectaculars through to the best contemporary and classical music, theatre, dance, visual arts and literary events - there is an amazing breadth of work for audiences to enjoy, participate in and be inspired by.

This year's NNF has been extended by a day so that audiences will also get the chance to get up on stage as part of the brand new 'It's Your Festival' on 25 May from 11 - 6pm across Norwich.

This is the first time that the Festival has provided this platform for people to get involved; from regular performers through to budding hobbyists, everyone will have the chance to showcase their skills to the NNF audience! For more information or to apply to be part of 'It's Your Festival', visit nnfestival.org.uk/takepart.

This year will see many family friendly events alongside four dedicated events for children: Not Now, Bernard, a production by Arts Council England's NPO Unicorn Theatre; Baby Disco Dance Hall by Monski Mouse; Bounce and Rhyme Time; and a Family Film Morning packed with vintage cartoon capers!

In addition, the Festival will also be introducing Discover NNF14 this year, an initiative designed to give schools and families the opportunity to come together to engage with all that the Festival has to offer. For a full list of events and activities at NNF 2014 suitable for young people - especially those pursuing their Arts Award - please click here.

Festival highlights include:

Regional talent

Throughout this year's Festival, audiences will have the chance to see some of the region's most talented artists and their work, including Pioneer by curious directive - a project supported by public money from the National Lottery through Arts Council England's Grants for the arts programme.

The Norfolk-based group will be telling the story of the first mission to Mars using a wonderful combination of video design, movement and staging - pulling the audience into the action and making them feel like they are part of an exhilarating mission to another planet.

The Voice Project - which is also supported by Grants for the arts - will tantalise audiences' aural and visual senses with Souvenir - creating another inspiring performance from this award-winning company.

Poet and Time Out Award-winner Ross Sutherland will showcase his latest project in a scratch performance of Stand-by for tape back-up - a powerful audio-visual performance that combines old video footage that belonged to his grandad with a series of stories from his life. You can get an insight into this scratch work by watching one of the films that inspired the project.

Arts Council England NPOs, Writer's Centre Norwich and Norwich Arts Centre, will also be integral to the programme - presenting works and supporting artists.

International showcase

Depicting the oppression of Soviet Jews - followed by the censorship of Shostakovich under Stalin - Opus No 7 sees larger-than-life puppets, duelling pianos, living walls and blizzards of newsprint form part of a genre-defying double bill. Seated up close and personal on the stage, audiences enter a world of transformation where objects, sounds and people can change in the blink of an eye.

Considered one of Russia's most influential directorial voices, Dmitry Krymov and his collaborators devise deeply moving, visually majestic theatrical experiences. Rarely seen in the UK, his work conjures beguiling images of epic proportion from simple materials. The tour is supported by an Arts Council England Exceptional Award.

Toumani Diabaté will follow up his critically acclaimed AfroCubism appearance with his son Sidiki in a further collaboration, celebrating the release of their new album Toumani & Sidiki. In the first half, they have invited cellist Philip Sheppard to play a special short set, to counterpoint their kora duets.

For more information about the Norfolk and Norwich Festival and to see the programme for this year's event, please visit the website here.