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¡Vamos! Festival team hoping to expand arts events beyond the North East

The successful ¡Vamos! Festival team is looking to work with other city councils across the UK to take their arts event to new destinations

Brazillian dancers perform a mardi gras dance routine to drums and trumpets
Brazillian dancers perform a mardi gras dance routine to drums and trumpets

The team behind Latin inspired festival ¡VAMOS! is working on bold plans to expand their arts offering beyond the North East.

The festival which celebrates the Spanish and Portuguese speaking world marked its eighth anniversary in the summer in Newcastle.

Inspired by a year long cultural partnership between Mexico and the British Government planned for 2015, festival director Nik Barrera will trial his plans for festivals outside the region with a one-day special event in Newcastle in November.

A Mexican themed Day of the Dead event with wrestling, music, cinema and food stalls will be held at the Boiler Shop at the Stephenson Building on November 1, and Nik will use it as a test-run for similar one day events to be held around the UK.

He said: “I’m in talks with Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool city councils and councils in London. I’ve got a few options laid out and we have the capacity to do one or two events maximum in 2015 outside of the North East. It’s been a long term aspiration to take ¡VAMOS! to different parts of the country.

“The vision is for mini concentrated editions of the festival in the UK and to bring exciting talent that’s international, from the North East as well as artists on the ground in those areas.”

The popular tradition of Day of the Dead or ‘Día de Muertos’ originates from Mexico and is celebrated all over Latin America.

At the Boiler Shop, Nick and his team will run a daytime session between 2pm and 6pm for young people with workshops, photo-shoots and a children’s cinema pod.

Leading up to the day there will be a series of after-school classes focussed on Mexican mask making and craft decorations and costumes all to be showcased and celebrated on November 1.

The culmination of the event will be a giant Piñata suspended for children to break into to find treats inside and a comical display of Mexican wrestling suitable for children.

Between 7pm and midnight the Boiler Shop will transform itself however into a full-blown Mexican wrestling ring with wrestlers Mystery Man, Tagori and El Skelator doing battle in a night themed on good and evil.

Nik said 2014’s Mexican theme would also spill into next year’s main ¡VAMOS! festival.

“The British and Mexican Government have agreed to celebrate each other’s cultures. We have 12 months in which to create a link and it seems like a great opportunity for us. There are certain aspects which people are already familiar with, they maybe entry points like Mexican wrestling, the Day of the Dead and artist Fida Kahlo’s works, but they are accessible. The Day of the Dead event in November is a chance to road-test our ideas, which I hope we will be doing more of next year. The realistic aim is to do one project outside the North East in 2015.”

Nik is currently looking for a corporate sponsor and is applying for funding from the Arts Council and also hopes to get financial support from local authorities for his new venture.


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