Spotlight on: Newcourt Community Festival

In September 2021, the Northcott collaborated with Newcourt Community Association and local volunteers to organise the Newcourt Community Festival. This free event for all those living in Newcourt brought people back together after 18 months of separation in a celebration of community, togetherness, place and creativity.

Newcourt Community Festival 2021 Two young girls are holding hands and are laughing. They're looking at a big pink puppet fish, carried by a performer in a bright pink wig.
© Emily Appleton
Newcourt Community Festival 2021 Donald Craigie performing in front of families. He's got a colourful umbrella and is wearing purple dungarees
© Emily Appleton

Creative experiences and performances by artists from Newcourt and across the city formed the heart of the festival. These local artists were chosen by a community commissioning circle, and included musical guests Colin Rea and Emily Howard, a storytelling workshop from PaddleBoat Theatre, a Right Royal Write-Off (think ‘medieval bards meet poetry slam’) from Spork!, dancing disco-fish puppets from PoCo Creations, and performances of a brand-new story, Georgina and the Dragon, from Northcott Futures emerging artist Donald Craigie. Local street artist Steve McCracken was also in residence, painting a large mural of his much-loved birds, whilst chatting to festival-goers about how he makes his art. You can still see the finished mural on the wall of the Community Centre garden!

The feelings of community here are incredible.

Participating Artist

Newcourt Community Festival 2021 Two young children are in awe of an umbrella prop, handed to them by a performer from PaddleBoat Theatre
© Emily Appleton
Newcourt Community Festival 2021 Two children are dancing and having fun on the grass, whilst two musicians are seen performing in the background
© Emily Appleton

Spork!, your resident poet laureates, present… the Newcourt Festival Poem!

As well as battling it out in a true poetry joust, Chris and Harula collected words, feelings and ideas about their community from festival-goers. At the end of the day, they graced the stage one final time… to present a Community Poem, written with and for the people of Newcourt.

Watch the video to listen to the poem.

(Subtitles are provided, please press the Subtitle logo icon to turn on.)

Newcourt Community Festival 2021 Two people wearing medieval clothes and crowns, one is blowing a trumpet
© Emily Appleton
Newcourt Community Festival 2021 detail of a mural by Steve McCracken: colourful birds
© Emily Appleton

Lots of lovely moments of interaction. Some unexpected ones, surprising ones, funny ones. That’s been lovely.

Participating Artist

The Festival took place at the Newcourt Community Centre, using the whole building as well as the gardens. Bike-powered smoothies, fresh pizzas, coffee and cakes were provided by local businesses (along with many fantastic raffle prizes!), craft and growing activities were run by locals, and outdoor games were led by Space Youth Services. The sun duly put his hat on and came out to play – along with around 150 Newcourt residents!

Newcourt Community Festival 2021 Two children having fun at the crafts table
© Emily Appleton
Newcourt Community Festival 2021 Donald Craigie performing in front of families. He's got a colourful umbrella and is wearing purple dungarees
© Emily Appleton

The Newcourt Community Festival is part of a long-term relationship between the Northcott and Newcourt, which aims to stimulate and support creative and community activity that is responsive to the interests, needs and priorities of the local community. In Newcourt, this has already led to popular drama activities and creative holiday residencies for local children, and early plans are under way for a creative youth café offer. At the Festival, two ‘Creative Listeners’ spent the day talking to locals and running creative consultation activities, to learn about what people in the local area might want to see or do going forwards.

What an amazing day on Sunday! Newcourt very much appreciates what you all did to make this a very special day for our community.

Newcourt Community Association Leader

Newcourt Community Festival 2021 A young family is having a closer look at a big blue fish puppet, carried by a performer in a bright blue wig!
© Emily Appleton
Newcourt Community Festival 2021 A young boy is trying to catch a toy fish with a rod
© Emily Appleton
Newcourt Community Festival 2021 Families are clapping
© Emily Appleton
Newcourt Community Festival 2021 Two children arm in arm, smiling at the camera
© Emily Appleton

This event was funded by Exeter Northcott Theatre, Newcourt Community Association, Devon County Council and SPACE.

We can’t wait to see what happens next!

Are you part of a community which would like to see more creative things happening on your doorstep?

We’d love to hear from you!

Contact our Community Engagement Producer, Nicole, for a chat.

Email Nicole
Newcourt Community Festival 2021 a little boy wearing a big crown appears to be shrieking with excitement!
© Emily Appleton