A South Tyneside couple who met on the set of Starlight Express in London’s West End 25 years ago take centre stage this weekend.
Garner and Sandy Harris met in 1992 when Garner was working as a dancer and Sandy was a costume supervisor on the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber rock musical at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.
The relationship quickly blossomed and Sandy persuaded Londoner Garner to move with her to her native South Tyneside, where they set up production company The Creative Seed in 2009.
The company offers professional services including event production and management, costume hire, roadshows, touring shows, street performances and event production, with creative workshops, theatre performances, film and carnivals.
The firm commissioned carnival artist Steven Hoyte for a two-week residency in April, during which he worked with staff to make huge costumes which can be seen for the first time in this Saturday’s South Tyneside Festival Summer Parade.
The parade has five themes – The Arabian Nights, The Jungle Book, Hansel & Gretel, Cinderella and Peter Pan.
We have grown so quickly in the past few years and have an extremely busy summer ahead with more than 30 staff working on the events.Sandy Harris
Sandy said: “We have grown so quickly in the past few years and have an extremely busy summer ahead with more than 30 staff working on the events.
“The Creative Seed is now the go-to carnival company in the North of England and we are rapidly gaining a national and international reputation.”
While February to August is the firm’s busiest time, winter events include the annual Camel Parade, in South Shields in December, with illuminated characters and stilt walkers accompanied by fireworks.
Coun John Anglin, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for regeneration and economy, said: “Investment in our arts and cultural institutions can play an enormously important role in stimulating wider economic growth.
“There is an increasing awareness of the economic impact of culture. Culture is central to the creative industries, now worth five per cent of our economy. The arts and culture industry alone is worth £7.7billionn to the UK.
“We are very fortunate to have a company like The Creative Seed working here in South Tyneside.”
Follow The Creative Seed on Facebook or at creativeseed.org.