Project will celebrate cultural significance of River Tamar
A major new cultural project will explore the rich heritage and potential future uses of one of the country's most diverse waterways.
The River Tamar Project, supported by Peninsula Arts at Plymouth University and the Arts Council England, is aiming to reflect the river's historical, cultural and industrial importance working with the communities which line the border of Devon and Cornwall.
Their year-long initiative, titled It's All About the River, will culminate in the staging of a film festival in 2014, but it is hoped that will also feed into ambitious long-term plans to utilise the river for a range of contemporary art and environmental installations.
Paula Orrell, artistic director of the River Tamar Project, said: "The River Tamar is a critical part of the South West's landscape and histories, encompassing trade, industry, politics and the redistribution of its local communities. This history is now embedded in the fabric and architectural structures of its banks, and provides a wonder of opportunity for artists, filmmakers and other art practitioners to form and create ideas. The intention of It's All About the River is to draw attention to issues which are universally relevant, and explore a potential new human purpose for the River Tamar once more."
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It's All About the River will be launched at Plymouth's Royal William Yard in September, with a spectacular public performance by Plymouth University academics Jane Grant and Dr John Matthias, pioneers of the award-winning Fragmented Orchestra.
Investigating the environmental urgency and creating an agency for change, the festival will commission and schedule a programme of contemporary and historic film and video that seeks to bring awareness of the waterway in the context of major rivers throughout the world.
It hopes to use the landscape to enable national and international artists, and the individual communities, to create a range of striking works and thought-provoking experiences.
Sarah Chapman, Director of Peninsula Arts, said: "The River Tamar Project aligns with our strong outward facing ethos – centred on enterprise, partnership and innovation – to support the city's aspiration to become a nationally recognised centre for culture. Through a collaborative approach we support the development of new initiatives, high quality festivals and events that aim to raise the profile and foster a vibrant cultural scene within the city."
The project has recently been boosted by funding of £85,000 from the Arts Council England and their senior relationship manager, South West, Simon Jutton said: "We're excited to see the next phase of the River Tamar Project unfold, and we hope It's All About the River engages and inspires local people living and working along this historic waterway.
"Arts and culture have an incredible power to draw communities together. Projects like this can help develop a real sense of place and underline the unique value of our natural environment and rich heritage. I look forward to the launch of the project in September."
The long-term plans of the River Tamar Project include commissioning major artworks and installations on the banks of the river in 2016/17, utilising the fallow and industrial wastelands and the river itself. The project also hopes to create a solar panelled floating classroom and an opportunity for a new cultural centre celebrating the heritage and environmental awareness of the river.