Devon seaside entertainers sought

The search is on for budding seaside entertainers to take to the road and entertain the public. A University-supported social enterprise scheme that is working to preserve the tradition of seaside entertainment and culture has secured funding to audition, train and employ five budding performers for the summer season.

The award of £30,000 from Arts Council England will enable Promenade Promotions to recruit five young trainees and help them to develop a professional craft. Following three weeks of intensive training, the recruits will join Promenade Promotions out on the road this summer, developing their own skills at regular free public events in Dawlish and Exeter.

Promenade Promotions is run by Dr Tony Lidington, Lecturer in Drama in the University’s Department of Communications, Drama and Film.


“We are delighted that Arts Council England has renewed its support for our trainee programme,” he said. “It’s an initiative that draws upon traditional elements of kinship and apprenticeship, and that is a powerful message; we are providing opportunities for young people to learn new skills, develop self-reliance and earn their way in the process.”

It is the second time that Arts Council England has funded the programme and the fourth in total that Promenade Promotions has taken on trainees. Past graduates have gone on to work professionally in the industry and enrolled on degrees in performance in higher education.

The programme is open to 17-25-year-olds from Devon, with successful applicants set to receive free training in outdoor arts performance and self-employment management skills during July. This will be followed by 10 days employment at a professional rate, performing alongside their trainers at locations including Exeter Quayside, RAMM, Dawlish and Dawlish Warren.

The funding this year will also enable the team to offer two ‘taster workshops’ aimed specifically at the LBGTQ+ community, which is under-represented in the industry.

“Seaside shows are a unique element of British culture, deriving their anarchic energy from the sense that the seaside exists outside of social norms,” adds Dr Lidington. “At the same time, they offer traditional family entertainment, and against a backdrop of major cuts to public programmes, we think they can play an important role in Devon’s summer schedules.”

In addition to the University, the work of Promenade Promotions is also supported by Exeter College, Exeter Customs House & Quayside Trust, Dawlish Town Council and a wide range of street artists. And this year, the team is also working with students at Arts University Plymouth, offering professional contracts for them to create costumes for the five trainees.