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The Scarborough Fair Appoints Festival Director

Plans to bring back The Scarborough Fair for the first time in 235 years have gathered pace with the appointment of a festival director.

David Edmunds, a festivals director, artistic director and producer with more than 20 years’ experience working within cultural industries worldwide, has been appointed to the prestigious role.

The plans for The Scarborough Fair aim to create a festival that will bring people together on the Yorkshire coast, attract investment, enhance Scarborough’s profile and draw curious audiences from across the local area, the region and beyond.

David will now lead on the delivery of an ambitious and innovative creative programme for The Scarborough Fair, which will span three years from 2023 to 2026. He will work with local artists, communities, businesses, visiting companies and established seasons to co-design and produce the festival.

Established under Royal Charter in 1253, the original Scarborough Fair drew merchants from as far away as the Ottoman Empire to ‘sell goods of true worth’ to hundreds of visitors each August and September. The fair survived for 430 years, taking place for the last time in 1788.

After a 235 year absence The Scarborough Fair is set to return under David’s stewardship - less mercantile and more magical - reimagined as a year-round programme of distinctive arts, heritage, culinary and sporting events at venues throughout the town.

David is currently festivals director for The Arches Festivals in Worcester but will be based in Scarborough when he takes up his new role from March 2023.

His vast back catalogue of experience includes delivering a number of large-scale outdoor commissions during Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture and working as associate producer for Imove, a project involving artists throughout the UK, which was inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

David also worked with England Rugby and Leeds City Council to develop and implement the creative vision and programme of work for the official cultural celebrations of the Rugby World Cup in Leeds in 2015.

Paul Robinson, chairman of The Scarborough Fair Advisory Group and The Scarborough Fair founder, said:

“I am delighted that this long-held aspiration has become a reality. The Scarborough Fair will celebrate all that our beautiful region has to offer – the people, food, sport, music, art and so much more – in all its exciting and vibrant colours.

“The appointment of the hugely lauded David Edmunds to the role of festival director is the next step in realising the cultural regeneration of our area. The Scarborough Fair is the ‘big moment’ that we have long been waiting for.”

Reflecting on his new appointment, David Edmunds said:

“I’m thrilled to be taking on the role of festival director for The Scarborough Fair. I’m excited for the amazing things we will bring to life, with and for, the communities of the town and further afield, over the next few years.

“This feels like a really exciting time for Scarborough and I’m looking forward to immersing myself in it and contributing to the already diverse and vibrant cultural community that already exists in the town.”

Made possible with investment from the government’s Towns Fund, The Scarborough Fair is a project of Scarborough Borough Council, working in partnership with the public and private sectors and initiated following extensive consultation with local residents, businesses and community organisations.

The development of the programme is being guided by Janet Deacon, the council’s head of tourism and culture, and her colleagues. Janet said:

“I am delighted at David’s appointment and confident that the rebirth of The Scarborough Fair will be spectacular in his hands.
“I look forward to working with him, the rest of the team and our partners on an ambitious programme of live events, which will build on Scarborough’s unique cultural offer and create year round opportunities for residents, local businesses and visitors.”


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