Festival-style pilot markets to take place in Saxmundham, Halesworth, Leiston and Beccles starting in December 2021.
First Light Festival Community Interest Company (FLF C.I.C.) is pleased to announce that it will be working with market towns across East Suffolk on a new towns celebration initiative funded through the ERDF Welcome Back Fund supported by East Suffolk Council.
The Market Place project will deliver a series of pilot ‘celebration markets’, each one specific and original to the towns, reflecting stand-out businesses and key characteristics. Saxmundham will be the first town in the project, working with the town council as part of their Christmas celebrations on December 3rd. Events in Halesworth, Leiston and Beccles will follow in 2022.
The markets will be family-orientated and have a celebratory atmosphere with live music from local musicians and DJs, street performances, workshops, locally-sourced food and drink as well as children’s activities. The aim is to create a mini festival feel to attract local as well as out-of-season visitors.
In addition to the events, FLF C.I.C. will also be delivering a consultancy package of support to advise another four towns on best practice for event development, undertaking a feasibility study to assess the types of events that each of the towns can support and what marketing could help to encourage greater footfall into the centres to support their recovery. Following this analysis, the consultancy package will offer each town a face-to-face masterclass with Wayne Hemingway, First Light C.I.C. Director and co-founder of HemingwayDesign Design Studio. They will then receive a toolkit of bespoke actions. The towns taking part in the consultancy package during phase 1are Bungay, Felixstowe, Framlingham and Lowestoft..
Wayne Hemingway said: “So often the market towns of East Suffolk are overlooked by visitors. But all of these towns have something unique to offer – vibrant independent shops, a thriving arts scene and local, artisan food and drink producers for example. We’re really pleased to be involved in such an exciting project which will contribute to the recovery of these high streets by encouraging visitors from the local area as well as further afield.”
Cllr Craig Rivett, East Suffolk Council’s Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Economic Development said: “East Suffolk is fortunate to have an array of distinctive market towns and this programme of events will highlight everything they have to offer, encouraging residents to explore their own town and attracting visitors to different parts of the district. This all helps to support our small businesses and strengthen the local economy.”
In May 2021, East Suffolk Council’s Economic Development Team consulted with all town councils, requesting that they work with their local business groups and associations to provide a consolidated response, to see what each would like to receive from the Welcome Back Fund. Based on these consultation responses and reflecting on the work being progressed with the towns through the People and Places project, the towns were identified who wanted to participate in the Celebration Markets project.
Additional funds are available from April 2022 onwards to extend this programme to further towns. Further announcements will be made early in 2022.