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CAST FREE family festdays 

CAST START Festival 2023 was even bigger and better than ever!

With creative workshops, free family fundays, a short-film competition, a caberet event plus tie ups with The Big River Maker's Market and the Ocean Road Mela - we had something for everyone!

Are you an artist/workshop facilitator or would you like to be part of the organising team? Just get in touch!

Not sure? Just check out the round up of the 2023 festival below 😊


So, the CAST START Festival is over for this year but what an amazing month-long extravaganza!
With venues around the borough and events to suit every taste and budget, check out what we put on the CAST START Festival menu for you...

CAST START Festival funding
We wanted to make the festival as accessible as possible to everyone in the borough, so earlier this this year we applied for the funding to bring the festival to you. Although our Community Foundation application failed, we didn‘t give up!
Our submissions to Arts Council England and the National Lottery Community Fund were approved and we secured a massive £21,500 to stage the festival!

Big River Summer Maker’s Market
Kicking off in style with the Big River Summer Maker’s Market on 15th July, the rain didn’t dampen spirits!
More than 70 traders offered a fabulous choice of arts, crafts, collectibles and traditional market favourites in addition to the live music, free family entertainment and wall to wall coverage from Radio Shields!

CAST START Festival creative workshops
With everything from fused-glass workshops to Sashiko sewing via theatrical sessions, air-dry clay, music and ecological activities, we crammed as much in as possible for all ages and interests, all in various locations across the borough!

CAST START Festival projects and spoken word cabaret
The festival also included Angela Ashton working with a group at Bilton Hall to make glass panels for the community centre window, two successful youth projects (a short-film making course at Bilton Hall CIO in Jarrow and a graffiti art project at Ocean Road Community Centre in South Shields) plus a sold-out spoken-word cabaret event held at the Sea Change Cafe on Ocean Road.

Ocean Road Mela - a great South Asian cultural event!
With a delicious range of food prepared by local restauranteurs, Asian art and crafts, performances and music plus a massive choice of stalls, the Mela was perfect for all ages to enjoy a multicultural day out...and CAST were right in the thick of it!
Based primarily in Ocean Road Community Centre, we had drop-in Arabic calligraphy sessions, kids crafts and traditional games but we also has performances from local rapper Trixx, a small stage programme from Into the Spotlight and...down in North Marine Park, we also had Bangladeshi illustration and storytelling!
Altogether (apart from the footbal result!) a fantastic day with over 2500 visitors!

CAST START Festival ‘My World’ film competition and our free family fundays
With an outside cinema to showcase the shortlisted entries to our ‘My World’ film competition at the Bilton Hall family funday, celebrated local storyteller and musician, Tony Wilson, was on hand to present the awards to the winners! Acclaimed South Tyneside animator, Sheila Graber, was charged with the unenviable task of picking a winner from a strong field of 7 shortlisted films.
Taking the prize for the 18+ category, Martin Roberts won the trophy and 1:1 film-making workshop with film-maker Chris Allen for his entry ‘Tall Ships’. Competition in the 8-17 age category left Sheila unable to choose and instead, she split the prize! Bilton Hall took the trophy with their film ‘Knife Crime’ and Lewis Craig walked away with the 1:1 film-making workshop for his entry ‘My Current World’. Sheila was so impressed with the film-making talent on show that she got in touch with Ray Spencer from the Customs
House and arranged for the other shortlisted entrants to get a pair of cinema tickets each!
Although she was unable to attend the showing, Sheila sent us an animation specially created for the event and you can watch this, alongside all of the shortlisted films, here on our new YouTube channel.
The fundays were also a great success! We estimate that approximately 200 people attended each funday enjoying kids crafts, music & karaoke, graffiti art, urban dancing, inflatables, ‘traditional games’ and popcorn & slushies and...all free of charge!

Altogether we estimate that around 2500 people took part in the 2023 CAST START Festival in one way or another - either enjoying our activities directly, visiting the Big River Maker’s Market or enjoying our uevents at the Mela. All in all, a great success even if we say so ourselves and a fitting tribute to all of the blood, sweat and tears spent by the whole team but by Kelly in particular! And although Kelly won’t be in the driving seat next year, her legacy will continue. We’re already working on some great ideas including new partnerships and expanding into more watch this space!

Thank you for everything Kelly!