Big Ideas by the Sea - Scarborough


Big Ideas by the Sea is a new festival that will take place in Scarborough in July 2021. The brain child of artist Kane Cunningham and former City of York archaeologist John Oxley the aim is to bring to Scarborough some of the best speakers from across the UK to talk about the big issues.

Kane Cunningham said, ‘ We have discussed for some while the idea of creating a festival that explores the big ideas related to a whole range of issues and concerns facing communities and people locally and across the globe, to include the environment, education and employment.

Each year will offer different themes; however, we feel with COP26 in 2021 we should focus on the environment and climate change.

So, we are inviting experts speakers to tell us the facts and to highlight the issues, but more importantly to offer solutions.”

The festival will be a yearly event with the intention of growing to be a leading cultural festival in the North of England.

John Oxley said, “We are also planning a community archaeological dig in the Old Town of Scarborough. Our intention is to open 20 small trenches and to look for artefacts and objects which tell us more about the history of Scarborough. This ‘Time-Team’ style dig over the weekend will take the festival to communities that would not normally take part in such an event.  And of course,  we have Professor Carenza Lewis of Time Team taking part in the festival!”

The Big Dig will start on the 19th of July, culminating in an exhibition of finds to be displayed at the market hall the following weekend. We will also have Krash Labs working with groups of young people on a Minecraft archaeological dig. 

The festival has already attracted some top speakers to include mountaineer Alan Hinkes, Professor Joann Fletcher, photographer Joe Cornish and adventurer and TV presenter Paul Rose.

Kane said, ‘ We are delighted with the quality of speakers who are all keen to get involved and to travel to Scarborough. These are all experts in their field to include Paul Rose former Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society,  Chair of the Expeditions and Fieldwork Division and currently Expedition Leader for the National Geographic Pristine Seas Expeditions.’

Paul said, ‘ I am delighted to be involved in this new and innovative festival that focuses on the big ideas related to climate change and the environment. Scarborough has the opportunity to be part of the global effort to raise awareness of the issues and therefore attract attention via this important event nationally and internationally.”

Festival of Big Ideas By the Sea invites people from across the UK and beyond to send postcards to the Grand Hotel in Scarborough.

Big Ideas By the Sea, a new festival in Scarborough, in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, will be asking people to send postcards or letters to the Grand Hotel in Scarborough. The aim is to encourage people to reflect upon memories of Scarborough and Yorkshire Coast once visited on holiday or to write about how they feel at the moment in a world turned upside down.

Kane Cunningham co-director of the festival said, ‘’We are aware many people have missed their visits to Scarborough and the North Yorkshire Coast and will no doubt be keen to get back to the seaside as soon as possible. So, the postcard or letter is an opportunity to think about coming back and to reflect upon family holidays going back decades. To imagine a time when the world seemed full of sunshine, ice creams and fun on the beach. So, we are encouraging to write about memories.

Rosie Barrett, National Literacy Trust hub manager for the North Yorkshire Coast (Our Stories, Whitby, Scarborough and Filey)

“It’s such a creative project and we are delighted to partner with Big Ideas by the Sea to support it, as part of the work of our hub on the North Yorkshire Coast. There are so many ways for families to be involved and spark the imagination, and we’ll also be donating lots of books to participants through events along the way as part of our Connecting Stories project.”  

John Oxley, archaeologist and co-director of Big Ideas By The Sea said, “As archaeologists, we try and reconstruct past lives and places from material and objects we dig up.  The postcards you send to the Grand will be a record of this very strange moment in time.

The 2021 festival is funded by the Big Lottery Fund Awards for All and Yorkshire Coast BID.

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Big Ideas by the Sea


Woodend Creative Workspace & other venues, The Crescent, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 2PW
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Tel01723 384525

Opening Times

Event (16 July 2022 - 18 July 2022)

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