Students prepare to walk festival tightrope

Songs, dancing and even a few circus tricks are all top of the bill as Newcastle University prepares to unleash its raw student talent upon Jesmond Community Festival for the first time.

Photograph by Jumblymamba

For the first time, the university is to officially attach its name to the Jesmond community banner in a new look Student Showcase event. Members of the Student Union plan to display their talents and commitment to the community for a feast of free entertainment in the annual festival – which takes place between March 19 and April 3.

The student-funded event will be held at the British Legion Club on the festival’s opening night, combining a mix of family entertainment courtesy of the NUTS drama society and the Tango dance troops.

Newcastle University student and event organiser Sarah Hodgson says she is looking forward to the first event to be officially sponsored by the Student Union. “As well as the entertainment side to the event, we want to inform Jesmond residents of the community work students, and the university itself, performs,” she said.

“We aim to do this by having the odd speaker or two in between the entertainment, but mainly through the use of displays around the room that will be visible to everyone.”

Following a steady stream of bad press facing students in recent years as a result of isolated incidences of antisocial behaviour, Hodgson and her fellow undergraduates are keen to repair relations between the university and the Jesmond community.

The media, communication and culture student added: “The purpose of the whole event is ultimately to improve the relationship between students and the local community in Newcastle as a whole – but especially in Jesmond, where many students live.

“There are other smaller aims, such as to inform the community of the work we do that they may or may not know about and provide entertainment for the audience cost-free.”

The organisers are also looking to promote Jesmond’s British Legion Club, which has often been threatened with closure. “We are hoping to introduce people to somewhere they may not know about, and by doing this hopefully encourage them to use it – whether this be hiring the building or even just going for a few drinks in the bar every now and again.

Hodgson is now hoping that the official sponsor of Newcastle University in the project will help attract as many people as possible to the event, following months of effort for the cause.

She continued: “I feel it is important because of everything previously mentioned, but also because many students at the university are not local. Therefore, they have joined a new community – and it is good to give something back to the community you live in.

“There is much in the media about the effect students have on the community – a lot of this can be negative so we want to disprove the idea that students are bad, selfish and a nuisance to other residents and the community in general. We want to be able to be part of the community and show that there is more to students than they may think.”

Doors open at the British Legion Club at 7.30pm on March 19. Tickets are free and everyone in the community is welcome to attend.