Cromer and Sheringham Arts and Literary Festival (CASALF), known locally as COAST Arts, became a registered charity in 2013 with charitable objects to:

  1. Advance the education of the public in the subject of visual and performance art in all its forms.

  1. Promote art for the benefit of the public by the establishment and maintenance of an arts festival.

Fulfilment of these objects is further informed by COAST’s own underpinning principles of inclusivity, affordability, diversity, accessibility, enabling creative partnerships, promoting artistic quality and fostering young/ emerging talent.

After losing some key volunteers and making a significant £984 loss in 2015, COAST Arts began a transition. In 2016 it started to move away from being actively involved, and solely responsible for, the organisation and delivery of events (and only as part of an intensive, 10-day, multi-disciplinary arts festival during October half-term, restricted to the immediate vicinity of Cromer and Sheringham), to embrace a new role; as facilitator and co-promoter of a year-round programme of opportunities for locals and visitors to experience the best of local, regional and national creativity across North Norfolk (a rural district lacking in comparable opportunities).

Informing this decision were two key motivators:

  1. Sustainability – ensuring the charity’s future

COAST Arts is a voluntary organisation. As such, it must have the resources – human and financial – to continue its invaluable work.

  • In human terms, the priority was to retain the commitment of existing volunteers, not least because they bring knowledge and experience of the charity and its work. To minimise the risk of volunteer drop-off (through overload, boredom or fatigue), the volunteers’ capacity – especially any limitations due to health, work or other family commitments – and their professional experience had to be considered. The “bigger picture” – where there is a significant increase in the demand for volunteers across all charitable sectors – made this even more vital. Enabling volunteers to maximise their strengths and pursue personal interests led to the practice of appointing “champions” for specific events and activities.

  • In financial terms, the priority was to break even by maximising opportunities for income generation and minimising costs through collaborations and partnerships. Funding for the arts is under constant threat from public sector spending cuts and the current economic climate inhibits many other sources of private sector support. COAST Arts, like many other small charities, competes with an increasing number of bodies for a share of an ever-decreasing total. To retain the financial support of long-standing funders (mainly Cromer Town Council and Norfolk County Council) COAST Arts had to preserve elements of its original rationale, whilst adapting to the knowledge that any grants from these bodies were likely to be lower than in previous years. Minimising the charity’s reliance on grant aid was paramount; standing out from the plethora of other festivals and arts charities in North Norfolk in order to attract new investors and partners was also essential.

  1. Filling an Identified Gap in Provision

Until recently, North Norfolk District Council’s Arts Service facilitated networking and produced free annual festival, gallery and what’s on guides for the district. These invaluable services have been victims of local authority cut backs and are no longer available. COAST endeavoured to fill this gap by offering free promotional opportunities on our website – on a newWhat’s On in North Norfolk page – and in our COAST Arts magazine – a free guide to all things arty in North Norfolk with feature articles and sponsored advertorials. Small voluntary organisations also pay a premium for box office services (e.g. through local theatres and TICs) and can find it difficult to find appropriate volunteers for specific roles e.g. financial marketing and publicity design. COAST began to offer free or “at cost” online box office facilities and design services; and also took under its wing the Atrium Cinema Group – a dedicated group of volunteers who emerged from the recent closure of a local charity – Arts North Norfolk. This group is committed to the continuation of a vibrant cinema programme at The Atrium in North Walsham including monthly matinees with free tea and cake, family films and themed (e.g. classic, horror) evening screenings. Because it is an informal group and did not want to burden its volunteers with the responsibility of becoming constituted, COAST provided it with financial management and governance oversight.

In these ways COAST continued tocement its role as an umbrella organisation, creating and improving partnerships between artists and public, voluntary and private sector bodies in order to facilitate innovative collaborations.

Delivery in 2017

This shift in emphasis continued in 2017 resulting in a successful transition from a non-sustainable week-long festival to the beginnings of being recognised as a cultural hub for North Norfolk. Thus COAST Arts – more than a festival was born.

We still continued to work with a wide range of partners, new and old, to support, develop and deliver an eclectic mix of affordable music, theatre, workshops, talks, exhibitions, films and walking events in North Norfolk.

We kicked off the year by collaborating with Chalk Reef Amateur Productions to offer two performances ofLady Bracknell’s Confinement at Cromer Community Centre on 26th and 28th January.

We followed this by co-promoting Natasha Hood’s community singing project – Spring Celebration through Song & Folklore – with six workshop sessions in St Peter’s Church Hall in Sheringham during April and May and two concerts with guest musicians – a free picnic concert at Baconsthorpe Castle on 20th May and a ticketed performance at The Lighthouse in Sheringham on 21st May.

In the summer we partnered again with the Friends of North Lodge Park (NLP) to deliver two open air, family-friendly events in NLP:

  • A free Open Mic on 12th August in association with Cromer Carnival and Rock the Lobster.

  • A ticketed performance of Boxtree Productions’ The Wind in the Willows on 20th August.

In the autumn we launched a new initiative of art workshops for adults, both hobbyists and professionals wishing to learn a new skill. The first of these – an intensive 2-day Collagraph & Experimental Printmaking workshop with Laurie Rudling on 16th and 17th September in Cromer Community Hall – was fully booked. Next was Susanne Lakin’s Mixed Media workshop on 30th September at The Belfry Centre for Music & the Arts in Overstrand; and our final offering was Photograms with Kate Munro on 7th October in Cromer Museum.

In April 2016 we piloted a successful community-led choral event called CHOIRfest. At the request of many of the participating choirs, this was repeated on Cromer Pier on 1st October but this time it involved 163 voices from 8 North Norfolk choirs performing for a 176-strong audience. Plans for future events are now being developed by members of the choirs with COAST lending support as and when required.

Things started to hot-up in October as the traditional COAST festival week drew closer. In addition to CHOIRfest on 1st and the Kate Munro workshop on 7th we co-promoted:

  • Sheringham & Cromer Choral Society’s FREE Come & Sing Mozart’s Requiem at The Lighthouse (107 participants comprising 74 members and 33 guests) and concert at St Peter’s Church, Sheringham (audience 40), both on 14th October.

  • Another offering ofLady Bracknell’s Confinement, again in partnership with Chalk Reef Amateur Productions, but this time in Thorpe Market Church on 14th October.

On 19th October at The Sea Marge in Overstrand COAST’s popular Supper Quiz proved successful in both financial and audience development terms with 37 participants and, with the addition of a table-top raffle, a profit of £113.

For the past few years COAST Arts has organised a competition to encourage artists to enter works for inclusion in an open, curated exhibition. For 2017 the theme was Small is Beautiful. The mixed media art show and competition was run in full partnership with a new, town centre venue in Cromer, the Art House Café (one of our treasured independent local businesses which add to North Norfolk’s unique identity). The space available for the exhibition was itself small (and beautiful!) so to accommodate as many entries as possible, COAST provided applicants with a choice of 2d or 3d, 8″ square frame. This was included in the £7 entry fee and gave a lovely cohesion to the final exhibition. 75 Artists – young, old, amateur, professional – responded to the challenge to create small and beautiful artworks in a wide range of media. 61 entries were hung in an eclectic show which provided an inspirational experience for exhibiting artists and visitors alike. We were also delighted to have the prizes this year donated by two major national supporters of the arts – Cowling & Wilcox and Phaidon. Every entrant received two discount vouchers. The prize for the winner was materials worth over £50 from Cowling & Wilcox and for the People’s Choice, Art and Place, a book from Phaidon worth over £50. The Private View on Friday 20th October was attended by 80 people including Norman Lamb MP. The entries were judged by Brian Lewis, who had a very difficult job selecting the winners:

  • 1st prize Dolores Grace – Red Sails in the Sunset

  • 2nd prize Dot Cobley – Small World

  • 3rd prize CFR Bayer – Ghosts from the Past – The Birth of Poppyland

20% of the works on show were sold with a value of £760.

COAST’s winter events were:

  • A performance of Broad Horizons’ one-woman show Edith Cavell – Facing the Silence in Cromer Community Centre on 9th November.

  • A co-promotion of Stuff of Dreams Theatre Company’s play Anglian Mist at the RAF Radar Museum in Horning on 25th November.

  • Natasha Hood’s winter community singing project – Ring Out the Old, Ring in the New!with six workshop sessions in St Peter’s Church Hall in Sheringham during November and a concert with guest musicians at The Lighthouse on 2nd December.

  • A Christmas Fair at The Atrium in North Walsham on 9th December in partnership with the Atrium Cinema Group who organised a free family screening of A Muppet Christmas Carol. With 35 stalls selling an eclectic mix of festive crafts and treats, Mother Christmas and seasonal refreshments, this event did much to raise awareness of COAST in North Walsham and made a profit of £234.

The traditional COAST Arts 2017 Festival ran for 11 days over autumn half-term starting on Thursday 19th with the Supper Quiz and running to Sunday 29th October. Some of the highlights included:

  • Painting the Back Roads – an exhibition of John Midgley’s paintings from 2nd to 28th in Cromer Library.

  • The official opening and Small is Beautiful Private View at the Art House Cafe in Cromer on Friday 20th with the exhibition open daily from 21st to 29th.

  • Cromer Music Evenings concert – a piano recital by Dinara Klinton on Sunday 22nd at The Belfry Centre in Overstrand.

  • Three walking events in partnership with Cromer Walkers are Welcome and Norfolk Ramblers – Marsh Magic from Blakeney to Wells led by Don Davenport on 22nd; Wetland Walk led by Eddie Anderson at Templewood in Northrepps on 22nd; and Walking to Inspire film night at Cromer Community Centre on 29th – all as part of the month-long Norfolk Trails Walking & Cycling Festival.

  • Chekhov’s Comic Tonics – a free literary talk by Harvey Pitcher and Bernice Elscott at The Belfry Centre on Wednesday 25th.

  • 2 free family African Drumming workshops on 25th with Millicent Chapanda as part of Norfolk Black History Month (BHM) in Cromer and Sheringham Libraries.

  • An illustrated talk by Rob Spray – one of the eastern regional coordinators of Seasearch – on Thursday 26th in Cromer Community Centre.

  • Fashion Galore – an illustrated talk by Shonagh Marshall, co-curator of Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! at Somerset House – on Friday 27th in Cromer Library.

As in previous years, COAST’s ambition was to work with its customary broad range of businesses, artists and voluntary groups to deliver at least 20 diverse and inclusive events in accessible venues in Sheringham, Cromer, North Walsham and their surrounding towns and villages across North Norfolk. Taken as a whole across the year, not including the many partner and associated events (more on these later), COAST actually delivered:

  • 32 opportunities for artists, local residents and visitors to experience and/or participate in cultural activities including: live performances, exhibitions, talks and walks, a competition and workshops, encompassing visual art, craft, photography, literature, music, fashion, film, natural history and theatre. These took place over 52 days in 100 sessions (morning, afternoon or evening) at 18 locations, including libraries, a hotel, a private residence, an art café, theatres and arts centres, museums, a community centre, churches and church halls, open spaces and a castle ruin; in Cromer, Sheringham, Overstrand, Thorpe Market, Blakeney, Horning, Baconsthorpe, Northrepps and North Walsham.

  • 30 organisations (public, private and voluntary) were involved in delivering this programme. Pre-existing partnerships with funders, venues and/or contributors were consolidated and new collaborations were developed, most notably with the Art House Café and the Belfry Centre for Music & the Arts.

In total the 26 opportunities engaged with:

  • 4717 visitors i.e. the public of all ages (which is an average of 147 per opportunity).

  • 148 professional artists (approx 80% from Norfolk).

  • 435 participants i.e. amateur local artists, singers, musicians and experts.

The programme, which COAST believes catered to a wide cross-section of the local community as well as visitors, aimed to:

  • Promote a diversity of visual and performance artforms.

  • Showcase the variety and quality of work produced in the local area.

  • Offer local communities and visitors affordable opportunities to experience creativity in this rural district.

In terms of affordability, 38% of all opportunities (i.e. 14 events) were FREE (compared to 54% in 2016). Others were priced between £2 and £80 with concessions for children and families available for many events. Walks and talks ranged from £2-£6; theatre shows and concerts from £5-£17.50; workshops from £35-£80; the competition entry fee was £7; and we charged £10 including supper for the quiz and £10 for a stall at the Christmas Fair.

But that’s not all…

COAST has always endeavoured to embrace and support the events and opportunities of like-minded organisations and, in this regard, 2017 was no exception. Through its online box office, newsletters, website, magazine and other printed publicity materials, COAST continued throughout the year to promote the activities of 5 key partners:

  1. The Atrium Cinema Group’s programme of 16 films between April and December, which included: 7 matinees with tea and cake included in the £5 ticket price; 6 evening screenings priced £3 for children and £7 for adults; a family matinee in the summer holidays with all tickets at £3; a free film Loving as part of Norfolk Black History Month (for which COAST successfully applied for a bursary); and a free family film at the Christmas Fair. 1039 customers enjoyed this programme, an average of 65 per film. A dedicated team of 8 volunteers and 4 additional partners – North Walsham High School, Hughes TV & Audio, Showcase Gallery and Rocket Design – were involved.

  2. Sheringham & Cromer Choral Society‘s programme of 5 concerts and events (in addition to the aforementioned Come & Sing in October):

  • A free silent film night in St Peter’s Church, Sheringham on 18th February.

  • Durufle’s Requiem concert in Cromer Parish Church on 8th April.

  • A Fish & Chip Supper Music Quiz on 10th April in Sheringham High School.

  • Haydn’s The Seasons concert on 15th July at The Auden Theatre in Holt.

  • Songs of Praise concert in St Peter’s Church in partnership with North Norfolk Sinfonia on 25th November.

559 customers enjoyed these events which involved 90 amateur singers (i.e. SCCS members), 72 professional musicians and 25+ volunteers.

  1. North Norfolk Organisation for Visual Artists (NOVA)‘s programme from May to October of 4 exhibitions in Cromer’s Garden House Gallery, Salthouse Church, Thorpe Market Church and Riverside Art & Glass in Wroxham.

  2. FALCON’s programme of 7 free concerts/recitals by Purcell School alumni and other young emerging talents in Feb, May, July and October in St Andrews Church, Holt and Holt Primary School.

  3. Jarrold Cromer’s 2 literary lunches at The Cliftonville Hotel in Cromer in May and October.

Exhibitions, concerts, workshops, festivals and performances of countless other artists, choirs, churches, schools and other arts promoters were listed on the What’s On in North Norfolk section of the COAST Arts website and/or in our newsletters and magazine.

The COAST Arts Magazine was a new initiative in 2016. Buoyed by the success of the pilot editions, COAST produced Issue 3 in May 2017. This high quality, 24-page magazine featured not just COAST Arts event listings but also editorial, articles and listings of other “must see/do” happenings in the area. 5,000 copies were produced and distributed across North Norfolk by volunteers and also door-to-door in Holt, Cromer and Sheringham with copies of the free Holt Chronicle, Sheringham Independent and Cromer Times. The magazine attracted £1,065 revenue from advertising and sponsorship. The design, print and distribution costs were £1,811.

The coastarts.co.uk website was kept user-friendly and up-to-date, with regular feeds to Facebook and Twitter, by a professional communications/web manager and volunteers. Monthly e-newsletters to COAST’s 469-strong e-distribution list featured upcoming events and opportunities; supplemented by 5 issues during festival week.Other printed publicity – including 10,000 DL leaflets, inserted into every household’s copy of the Cromer Times and Sheringham Independent, and various event posters – were used to great effect.

In a challenging economic climate COAST Arts is pleased to confirm that its 2017 activities made a very small surplus of £300, demonstrating sound financial management and a careful approach to spending.

The restricted funds in the financial statements represent funds held by COAST for the Atrium Cinema Group (ACG). These are restricted for the development, delivery and promotion of arts and education events, primarily film screenings at The Atrium in North Walsham promoted by the Atrium Cinema Group (an unconstituted group of volunteers), but also for activities organised by COAST, in consultation and partnership with the ACG, across North Norfolk as part of its ongoing artistic programme.

COAST 2017 was evaluated (in terms of its success in meeting aims, objectives and financial targets) by its Trustees at meetings in December 2017 and January 2018. The consensus was that, given its track-record and ongoing supporters, COAST Arts – more than a festival should continue to be the philosophy moving forward.

This review was prepared by Rosie Glasgow and approved by the Trustees on 25th February 2018.