Festival’s boost to green economy

This year’s Festival of Thrift delivered a huge boost to the region’s green economy with visitors spending record amounts on skills-sharing workshops and sustainably produced goods from local traders over the festival weekend.

Over 50,000 people from across the UK attended the award-winning celebration of sustainable living in September and a just released survey of visitors by the festival organisers revealed that the event made a contribution to the local economy of over £2m.

The majority of this spend was channelled into ethical enterprises such as the local makers, food producers, artisans, upcyclers, fixers and recyclers, craftspeople and artists who trade and provide workshops and entertainment as part of the event.

The economic impact figure for the 2021 festival was the highest in the event’s history. A sign not only of the festival’s popularity, but also of a growing awareness and desire to opt out of the use and dispose culture, according to Creative Director Stella Hall.

“We’re heading towards our tenth anniversary in 2022 and our message about the importance of living sustainably is reaching more people than ever.”

Having appeared at an event at the COP26 environmental summit in Glasgow highlighting how cultural events can effect change in response to the climate emergency, Stella, pictured, added: “Festival of Thrift’s uniqueness is that it has creativity at its heart, it is a happy and joyous event that also shares achievable ways for people to make the shift to thrift.

“Our impressive economic impact and contribution to the green economy is very welcome news, but equally we offer the opportunity to spend little or nothing and enjoy a programme of free activities, such as our amazing upcycled fashion show, and a range of incredible free performances highlighting sustainability issues. We cater for everyone; people really can make the festival what they want it to be.”

Councillor Louise Westbury, Cabinet Member for Climate, Environment and Culture, said: “We are very proud to host this nationally-renowned event here in Redcar and Cleveland. The Festival of Thrift carries such an important environmental message whilst also playing a significant role in developing our cultural offer, our place as a quality destination and in turn the impact it has on the local economy.

“People are really starting to sit up and listen to environmental concerns now and Thrift is a really important partner for the Council to deliver against our climate change priorities. Action is beginning to be taken and conversations surrounding thrift and sustainability are no longer foreign to everyday members of the public. It is fantastic to see this event going from strength to strength.”

Feedback from visitors about their experiences ranged from comments saying, “Always such a fabulous day out, a real celebration of the arts, culture and community”, “Great place to buy unusual gifts” and “I came to get ideas about upcycling/sustainability, to relax and buy products” to “Meeting up with family and friends”, “I felt like myself again after such a long,​ isolated 18 months​” and “I am back at work with a big smile after such​ an uplifting weekend​”.

Festival of Thrift’s Executive Director Emma Whitenstall, who spoke about the impact of Festival of Thrift as part of Climate North’s COP 26 #ClimateHope videos, celebrating and showcasing the projects taking climate action and making a positive difference, said: “It’s so wonderful to see the festival making such an impact in so many different ways. Part of the parking fee paid by those who parked in the festival car park went to Trees+, which supports the protection of threatened rainforest and the preservation and restoration of peatlands, which meant we were able to donate £2530 to supporting a tree planting project in Northern Malawi.

“We have built some fabulous partnerships to help us deliver the event which our success will now help us to develop and grow We are always looking for new partners to spread the word.”

Dates for Festival of Thrift’s 2022 event will be announced in January. To find out more sign up at www.festivalofthrift.co.uk or follow the festival’s social media feeds @festivalofthrift on Facebook and Instagram and @ThriftFest on Twitter. A film of the 2021 is available to view below.

Festival of Thrift is funded thanks to generous support from Arts Council England, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority.


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