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The Jurassic Coast Earth Festival 2012 was a celebration of England’s only natural World Heritage Site – the Dorset and EastDevonCoast, commonly known as the JurassicCoast.  The 95 miles of coastline from Exmouth to StudlandBay tells the story of 185 million years of the earth’s history through its geological exposures and landforms, and is inscribed on the list under criterion xiii).

The Festival came about in response to the challenge from the London 2012 Olympics Games for a nation-wide programme of cultural events, especially in Dorset where the Sailing events took place. A small NGO in Lyme Regis – the Lyme Regis Development Trust – worked with the Dorset and East Devon Coast WHS Management Team, and many others, to prepare a coast-wide programme of educational and artistic events under the single Earth Festival banner.  Its aim was to work with local communities to inspire residents and visitors of all ages to enjoy, lean about and value the JurassicCoast and other World Heritage Sites.

Between May 4 and September  9, 2012, more than 30 events took place the length of the coast. These included:

  • The 8th annual Lyme Regis Fossil Festival, which brought 15,000 people to the Town to explore the coast and meet some of the world’s leading scientists.
  • Jurassic Airlines, a simulated flight travelling back 185 million years, combining theatre with pioneering technology to deliver environmental messages to 9,000 people
  • Horace, The Travelling Pliosaur Cinema, which made 126 performances in 10 different locations.  
  • étude, by Japanese Yukio Suzuki Company, a Butoh influenced contemporary outdoor dance performance overlooking the WHS.

Petya Totcharova, UNESCO World Heritage Centre Chief, Europe and North America Unit, was a guest at the Earth Festival launch and said: “We congratulate the organizers of the Jurassic Coast Earth Festival 2012 for having achieved intense and transformative participatory experiences for audiences of over 24,000 people. The arts and natural heritage programmes demonstrated an exemplary model of cross disciplinary arts-science collaboration and exchange of skills, perspective and expertise many of which will be enduring.”

The festival received some funding from UK lottery sources, but had a very high impact because of the efforts of those involved.  It enabled more people from more communities to engage with the globally important heritage on their doorstep, and have a lot of fun in the process.

by
Candida Blaker, Lyme Regis Development Trust
Dr Sam Rose, JurassicCoast World Heritage Site Manager