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Culture is back! New campaign, HEAD EAST, celebrates rich diversity of arts, culture and heritage in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Head East, a new regional cultural tourism campaign, launches today to showcase the rich diversity and quality of arts, culture and heritage found right here, on our doorstep. Residents from Norfolk and Suffolk will have the opportunity to return to their favourite activities, or discover exciting new experiences on a par with London’s cultural scene.

From coastal locations to rural and urban settings, over one year, Head East will celebrate the cultural gems in our counties, while highlighting the region as a must-see cultural destination in the UK, and encouraging sustainable travel.

By highlighting a selection of events in 2021 and beyond, the campaign invites people to enjoy themselves as they reunite with loved ones following a prolonged period apart. They can also rely on continued COVID-safe guidelines for memorable experiences with safety at the forefront.

Head East is also demonstrating that culture is open to everyone, with campaign stories expected to range from grassroots events to high-end arts; from free museums to premium performances; from outdoor festivals to indoor experiences.

Whether people are long-term culture vultures or new to the scene, Head East will feature events such as the below, taking place this summer.

Other organisations such as DanceEast have an upcoming events programme, and the National Centre for Writing has published a free book of walks around Norwich, UNESCO City of Literature.

Head East will also promote autumn and winter events to attract out-of-season visitors, who live locally or 2-3 hours’ travel time away from Norfolk and Suffolk.

Launching as COVID-related restrictions gradually ease, the campaign also strives to support the recovery – and long-term growth – of Norfolk and Suffolk’s cultural tourism sector. A key campaign goal is to boost sales, bookings and safe footfall.

Head East’s origins lie in an earlier initiative to promote cultural milestones, including the completion of the Norfolk and Suffolk Coast Path, the completion of The Hold in Ipswich, the 50th anniversary of the University of East Anglia’s Creative Writing MA, and Norwich Castle’s new £15.5m capital project.

What is more, Norwich was recently named as one of the best places to enjoy a city break by The Guardian, and Ipswich scored 14th in the world for emerging destinations by Trip Advisor. The pandemic triggered the campaign to expand to include more arts, cultural and heritage partners with a primary focus on attracting local people and visitors from further afield to the region.

Head East’s principal founding partners include the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership Culture Board (with funding from Arts Council England), Norfolk County Council, Suffolk County Council, Interreg EXPERIENCE Project, Norfolk Museums Service, University of East Anglia (UEA) and Visit East of England.

Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s fantastic to see this Head East campaign under way, promoting our important cultural sector. Our cultural sector is important for our local communities and a huge attraction for visitors. It helps to create the wonderful ‘sense of place’ which we all love about Norfolk and Suffolk and after such a challenging year, I look forward to seeing the sector, its innovative businesses and those who work in it have a successful summer.”

Pete Waters, Chief Executive of Visit East of England, added: “Our region has an enviable tourism offer, from coast and countryside, to urban settings and picturesque market towns. We’re also home to a dynamic, pioneering cultural sector boasting internationally celebrated brands, experimental experiences and grass roots initiatives. Head East will be throwing the spotlight on diverse arts, culture and heritage events that make the East of England a unique place to visit. Although tourism may not return to ‘normal’ levels until 2022, the campaign aims to help improve the sector’s resilience and put the East on the map as a ‘must see’ cultural destination.”

Stephen Crocker, Chief Executive and Creative Director of Norwich Theatre, explained: “The cultural sector in the East of England plays a vital role economically and in ensuring the health and wellbeing of all who live and visit here. The impact of the pandemic has been deep and profound, and to return to the vibrant industry we truly are, we encourage the public to get out and about again, and to enjoy all that our wonderful sector has to offer. Whether it is Norwich Theatre’s INTERLUDE in the CLOSE outdoor programme, or one of the many fantastic summer programmes from our peers across the region, our whole sector’s priority is keeping audiences safe by continuing to strictly follow government COVID-related guidelines. I know I speak on behalf of the region’s industry when I say, culture is back – we can’t wait to see people again this summer!”

Catherine Riley, show director of Primadonna Festival, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to hold a real, in-life festival this summer, and delighted that Primadonna is now part of Suffolk’s art and culture scene. We’ve lined up a weekend of big ideas and small wonders, and can’t wait for people from across the region to join us for ‘The World as it Should be for one Weekend’; including amazing writers, top comedy, delicious food and live music.”

Cllr. Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member, Communities and Partnerships, Norfolk County Council, commented: “Norfolk County Council is delighted to support this exciting regional marketing campaign. Whether you are a local resident or a visitor, we look forward very much to welcoming you safely back to enjoy our wonderful arts, heritage and cultural offer across Norfolk and Suffolk. We know that access to arts and culture is vital to our health and wellbeing as we emerge from the pandemic as well as playing a vital role in our economic recovery.”

Cllr Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council said: “I am delighted that Norfolk and Suffolk are working together to welcome back local, regional and national visitors to the East. We have an outstanding cultural offer here – festivals featuring national and international artists, museums showcasing unique local collections and some big surprises, including Banksy in Bury St Edmunds and The Power of Stories (three outfits from the Marvel film) at Ipswich Museum. We are also home to Sutton Hoo and were thrilled to see its story told in the major 2020 film The Dig. Our cultural assets are part of what makes a visit to the East welcoming, thrilling and safe.”

Visit the Head East hub at visiteastofengland.com for inspirational itineraries, interviews and cultural highlights, and to sign up for the official newsletter. For the latest news, follow the campaign on social media:

@HeadEast.UK 

@HeadEast_UK for Twitter

#HeadEastUK as hashtag

Watch the full campaign film on the Head East UK YouTube channel.