Book your free place at The Rivers of Light Lantern Parade 2024!

After receiving such positive feedback from the participants and partners at this year’s parade, Newmarket Community Arts and MarketPlace are thrilled to announce the return of Rivers of Light, which will illuminate Newmarket’s Yellow Brick Road once again.

The event will showcase Newmarket’s rare and ancient chalk stream that runs alongside the Yellow Brick Road footpath in the heart of the town. Leading up to the parade, artists Penny Sobr and Dawn Bursford will work with community groups, including the Guides and Scouts, to create willow lanterns. Additionally, we are planning to commission an artist to work with Teen Chill, (a youth club run by Abbeycroft Leisure Centre who recently created the arresting ‘Human Race’ mural), to produce larger willow structures for the event.

Alongside the art activities, ecologist Kevin Hand will provide information sessions about Newmarket’s chalk stream and how it can be preserved and protected.

Contact us if you would like to join our willow lantern making workshops which will take place on Thursday 22 February 10am-1pm and Friday 23 February 12.30-4.30pm.

During the parade, attendees will be treated to performances by the Newmarket School of Dance and the New Samba drumming band.

Gather at 6pm at George Lampton Playing Fields for performances from Newmarket Community Choir and Newmarket School of Dance. The parade will leave at 6:30pm and finish at Studlands Park Sports and Social Club, where Slackmagirdle Morris dancers will greet you. At 7:30pm ceilidh band Stompy Oak will encourage everyone to join in the dancing. They’ll also be performances from local singers and songwriters.

The parade will take approximately 30 minutes and is around 3/4 of a mile. It is also wheelchair accessible.

Rivers of Light is free to attend, but booking is essential.

Rivers of Light is supported by Newmarket Town Council, Newmarket Charitable Foundation and Anglian Water.

Teen Chill and MarketPlace Celebrate as mural is displayed in Newmarket

To mark the end of the project, artists from Teen Chill youth club were invited by MarketPlace for a celebration buffet at Newmarket’s Abbeycroft Leisure Centre to celebrate The Human Race mural. The co-created mural is part of the Newmarket in Colour project by Discover Newmarket and is now displayed in the leisure centre’s foyer where it can be enjoyed by the public.

Lead artist – Hilary Cox Condron – also attended along with the young artist’s family members to celebrate their achievement and hard work. The mural was inspired by the Mutiny in Colour exhibition at the National Horse Racing Museum. As part of the project, MarketPlace took members of Teen Chill to the exhibition where they were particularly inspired by artists Banksy, KAWS and My Dog Sighs, and were keen to have their voices heard in the piece. Over the course of several sessions with the young people, their voices came forwards and we discussed and experimented with ideas, themes and visuals.

MarketPlace Programme Director Susie Batchelor says: “We were delighted at how deeply committed the young artists at Teen Chill were to the project, and at the thoughtfulness of their creative responses. Hilary and everyone at the MarketPlace team loved their energy and enthusiasm. We are very proud that they have now formed an arts collective and look forward to working with them again on other initiatives including the Rivers of Light lantern parade which will take place in Newmarket in February 2024”.

Louise Eatock, Creative Producer

Case study: Rivers of Light

The ‘Rivers of Light’ Lantern Parade in Newmarket, Forest Heath, was a co-delivered event in partnership with Newmarket Community Arts, Newmarket Community Nature Reserve and Newmarket Town Council.

Residents walked the route of the chalk stream carrying their handmade lanterns before experiencing a finale of local musicians, choirs and dance performances.

Read the full Rivers of Light case study here

(This case study was prepared by We Are Frilly as part of our Phase 3 Year 1 Evaluation Report.)

‘Absolutely brilliant event from start to finish. The parade led by the samba band was awesome, the lanterns and crowd were brilliant, and so was Coventina. Newmarket choir were spot on with a great rendition of the Rivers of Light song‘ – Audience feedback

Newmarket in Colour Mural

Back in the Spring we began talking to the young people at Teen Chill youth club – run by Abbeycroft Leisure, Newmarket. We discussed various project ideas that they would like to be involved in and found that murals were of particular interest. We discovered an opportunity to take the project forwards by getting involved with Newmarket in Colour, a creative initiative set up by Discover Newmarket. This initiative commissioned several murals that will add colour to the public spaces throughout the town. 

We organised a visit to the Mutiny in Colour exhibition at The National Horse Racing Museum to inspire the group. They particularly liked works by My Dog Sighs, Banksy and KAWS.

We then spent two research sessions with Teen Chill, mind-mapping ideas with arts educator Hilary Cox-Condron before identifying themes and experimenting with designs. The group were keen to express themselves and give voice to their experiences. Inspired by the Mutiny in Colour exhibition, they were eager to incorporate some of the ideas they had seen into their own work.

During the first week of the summer holidays, the group spent three days bringing their ideas to life with Hilary at The Racing Centre. None of the group had ever worked at such a large scale, but they rose to the challenge brilliantly. They learned new stencilling techniques using templates and by creating their own patterns with masking tape. They worked extremely hard and at the end of the three days their piece, The Human Race, was complete. It has now been installed at the Abbeycroft Leisure Centre on Exning Road for all to see.

Delicates pilot project

Delicates is a pilot project that was developed with MarketPlace by writer and creative facilitator Tassa Deparis . It was run in Newmarket – by mothers, for mothers. New mothers were able to unleash their imagination, exchange stories and develop ideas around new identities through a variety of creative outlets. The workshops, run by Tassa and Helen Baggett of Gecko Theatre were attended by a small group of mothers, creating a safe space to talk openly while their little ones are taken care of in a creche in a neighbouring room.

The workshops took place over three weeks where the group of mothers could try various creative outlets surrounding their identity in motherhood. The sessions also provided a space to discuss and think about their journey as mothers, and what that means for them as individuals but also as a group. Women in the room came from a range of different backgrounds. Despite this, the group felt unified under the shared experiences of motherhood, and the beauties and difficulties that go along with that. 

Tassa Deparis talks about the Delicates project she facilitated

The project predominantly attracted new mothers on maternity leave and those with pre-school age children. Activities such as responding to the question ‘What is a mum?’ gave the group space to explore their identities and feelings surrounding motherhood.

The women who took part in this project were so open and happy to tell their stories

The women explored the transition from before motherhood to their present journey through the activities and discussions. The group came together through their shared and difference experiences. Lots of women feel isolated when they become mothers so the social aspect of the project was an important factor too.

This journey that many women go through is often undervalued, so the delicates project aimed to show the women the great importance and impact their place has in society.

Tassa Deparis, who led the group talks about the need for this kind of project; “The women who took part in this project were so open and happy to tell their stories, which showed a real hunger and need for projects like this to be developed, and more spaces for mothers to unpick this period of their life.”

“Everything we found and uncovered was so rich and so complicated. It really was ‘delicate’ material. There was beauty, humour, things that we felt privileged to be a part of, as well as things that were really difficult to explore.” – Tassa Deparis

With the success of the pilot, one of the aims is to have an artistic performance of some kind for an audience to consider the stories of mothers and how integral they are to a healthy and thriving society – watch this space!

Rivers of Light

Newmarket’s community lantern parade ‘Rivers of Light’ took place in February 2023, bringing some cheer to the winter nights for almost 600 local residents. The community gathered to celebrate the origins of Newmarket, the chalk streams that run through the town, and the local community groups. Inspired by ancient light festivals and the history of the Newmarket, residents paraded along The Yellow Brick Road with beautiful handmade lanterns.

Newmarket Community Arts and Newmarket Community Nature Reserve looked at previous research about the Newmarket Watercourse. Through investigation and talking to ecologist Kevin Hand, it became clear that Newmarket has chalk streams running through the town. Chalk streams are now listed as a priority habitat by the Environment Agency.  Newmarket had a lantern parade a few years ago which was very popular, so Newmarket Community Arts and Newmarket Community Nature Reserve felt that another lantern parade would work well to bring people together and raise awareness about this unique habitat in Newmarket.

In the lead up to the event, Newmarket Community Arts worked with arts educator and illustrator Penny Sobr to deliver willow lantern making workshops to local groups including the Rainbows, Brownies and Guides, and the International Women’s Group organised by Sharing Parenting. There were six workshops in total with almost 200 people taking part. This included two free public drop-in workshops at The Racing Centre, to support the community in making their own willow lanterns for the parade.

Willow Lantern created at a worskshop

“Brilliant, fun, great community spirit and turnout”

There was almost 80 people performing, including musicians, dancers, and singers. With performances from Newmarket School of Dance and Slack McGirdle Morris Dancers, there was lots of entertainment along the way. A new song was also performed which was especially commissioned for the project.

The route started on the green on the Yellow Brick Road behind Frampton Close, where it took around 40 minutes for the parade to complete the journey. A shorter route of 20 minutes was also available for those who wished to join part way through. The parade then culminated at Studlands Park Social Club where there was food and live music to enjoy. 

Next year please!

Rivers of Light was presented by Newmarket Community Arts in partnership with MarketPlace – Creative People and Places and Newmarket Community Nature Reserve.

Case Study: Community Producer

This case study is part of our project evaluation for Phase 2

We worked with two local residents, one from Fenland and one from Forest Heath, to support them as Community Producers in 2021. They brought local knowledge and contacts to commissions and events, developed their skills and made creative things happen in their places with their communities.

Read the full Community Producer case study here.

Read the full Phase 2 evaluation report here.

An excerpt from the case study:

Developing local people in cultural opportunities helps upskill and raise the ambition of art appetites by creating ownership over the activities. The community producers operate as advocates and a trusted source for local people and businesses to engage and activity partner. This has become an organic evolution from the Creative Collective, and Creative Forum structures the team has created. They identify development opportunities for each member.

Identifying talent, creating opportunities and the space to step into learning and leading happens through a subtle approach on a project-by-project basis. First, local people are engaged through an invitation and a reassurance of their skills and abilities.

Newmarket resident and Creative Collective member Louise Eatock has a passion and interest in the music scene and organising pop-up activities in local venues, but has big ideas for Newmarket’s needs for local people. Louise met Creative Agent Ali at a local authority community network meeting during the first phase of the activity, and Ali supported Louise in delivering the workshop activity. When the Creative Collective formed in Phase 2, Year 2, Ali invited her to join the group.

Louise helped commission ideas for the new Creative Conversations In Lockdown model as part of the Creative Collective. This process identified a commission that Louise could support and co-deliver with the artists as a local community representative. In addition, working on the More than Music project with Matt Cooper and Leanne Moden enabled Louise to take on a different role as a community producer on the project.

“It’s been a good experience working with MarketPlace. Ali (Creative Agent) is super supportive; she has helped me understand what my role could be in the community. Because before I met Ali, I was sort of thinking that I kind of had to not only organise everything but do everything myself as well. And she’s introduced me to other artists.

I’ve got a much clearer idea of programming arts in the community through working with Ali, so it’s been a good experience.” – Louise Eatock, Community Producer

Hilary Cox Condron, Louise Eatock and Colin Stevens at Newmarket Earth Arts Festival 2021.

Read the full Community Producer case study here.

Read the full Phase 2 evaluation report here.

Case Study: Objects and Stories

This case study is part of our project evaluation for Phase 2.

In 2020 Michelle Brace was commissioned by MarketPlace and the Creative Collective to pilot an objects-inspired oral storytelling project, ‘Mantlepiece’ to connect and celebrate communities. This project has since tested and developed it’s distance engagement methods as an intergenerational project between a school and a care home. In this latest testing phase the model trials democratised delivery and archiving potential within community organisations and by community advocates.

Read the full Objects and Stories case study here.

Read the full Phase 2 evaluation report here.

An excerpt from the case study:

The first iteration of the project tested the model of remote recording and artwork production with groups during lockdown over Zoom. The first iteration saw the collective share objects and stories over Zoom and send their content to Michelle to create a SoundCloud library of their stories and a group portrait of objects to represent the group.

The sharing and intergenerational potential of the project, due to the nostalgia of items shared by people, resulted in a second commission testing a distance delivery model between a care home and a school group. This enabled sharing of heritage and learning about past generations whilst increasing the wellbeing and feelings of value felt by care home residents. This delivery model provided resources and instructions to staff to deliver the activity to safeguard against COVID-19 transmission. This resulted in an exhibition of the stories and objects including the responses of the children to the experience.

When MarketPlace was approached by Suffolk Libraries to partner on their Let’s Get Creative programme and platform development, Michelle’s project was a natural fit for working across multiple locations to create a sense of ownership and belonging of libraries with its existing users and new audiences. Objects and Stories is the latest iteration of this concept, testing a new devolved delivery approach.

MarketPlace has a specified geographical area for delivery and so Michelle delivered the project in Brandon, and Community Producer Louise led delivery in Newmarket, with mentoring from Michelle. A training day was held in order to reach the wider West Suffolk Libraries to support the staff through the experience and to explore the potential for delivering activity directly with their service users.

When we did the CPD session with library staff I came away feeling overjoyed and convinced that this is a great idea and works with everyone. They all came with a story, some thought out, others grabbed on the go, but they each told a compelling story of who they are. The objects provide a lovely way to connect people and enable them to be vulnerable and share, as it’s an insight into who they are. They become not just a person in a library but a guy who had a fine art degree.’ – Michelle Brace, artist

Read the full Objects and Stories case study here.

Read the full Phase 2 evaluation report here.

#TinyDance comes to Fenland and Forest Heath

Casson & Friends, an award-winning dance company based in London spent early Summer 2021 bringing their own unique style of dance and ‘people powered performance’ to our area. The goal? To speak to as many people as possible to create a dance inspired by what people love about where they live.

Dancers engaging with community members, especially young people, to create a bespoke dance for their towns and districts resulting in a Collaborative Choreography

The Community Producer POV

We asked Jodie Hicks, our Community Producer, to give her point of view about her summer worling with Casson & Friends.

Events in March, Wisbech, Brandon and Newmarket

Across four events in Fenland and West Suffolk two teams of dancers had the chance to engage with people of all ages, to dig deep and mine their thoughts and memories for choreography ideas and inspiration. It was a real joy to observe someone, with great animation, describe a cherished memory about their town or a certain place within it, and then to see the dancers transform these words into fluid movements. 

A moment which stood out for me was at National Play Day at The Spinney Adventure Playground in Wisbech. Not only did the parents and children speak to the dancers, but they actually got involved physically to help create these moves alongside them.

On a couple of occasions, some of the children would correct the dancers and suggest their own alterations to more accurately capture what they loved about their hometown. The connections and collaborative process was a truly wonderful watch after we have all spent the past two years keeping distance from each other.

Slowly but surely, as each day would draw to a close, singular movements would grow into short sequences and in turn develop into a dance performance lasting a few minutes long. Alongside this, MarketPlace was  on hand to invite people to also write down thoughts, feelings and also  provide some suggestions for filming locations for the final stage of the project, producing a dance film. 

Bringing the moves together…

After our days in March, Wisbech, Brandon and Newmarket the dance teams went away and explored all of the information they’d gathered, narrowed down the filming locations to just three in each town, (no easy task) and put all of the choreographed motions together to create two distinct dances for Fenland and Forest Heath. 

All that was left to do was film it. Our travels took us to all sorts of places from racetracks to mausoleums, and even a castle. The #TinyDance teams accomplished the astonishing feat of filming in 6 locations per day and performing the Tiny Dances a staggering 18 times over the course of each day!

It was exhausting just watching them! Not only this, but in true East Anglia fashion, the dancers and filmmakers had to compete with weather ranging from sunshine to wind and rain and back again and often in the space of an hour (which could be a little detail to look out for in the Forest Heath film). 

Clips from the Casson & Friends performers creating the final video on location in Brandon, Suffolk (Forest Heath).

What was never lost was the sense of fun and wonder from the Casson & Friends team. They had the chance to visit all of these little gems we have in our towns, and really experience for themselves; what we are proud of and what is distinctively unique about living in Fenland and Forest Heath.

The #TinyDance films will be ready very soon so be sure to keep an out on our social media pages or sign up for our newsletter to have it sent direct to your inbox. 

With all that said, where’s my popcorn…?

Written by MarketPlace Young Producer, Jodie Hicks.

Read about Casson & Friends’ Tiny Dance project and watch the final videos here.

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