Culture is back and there is so much to celebrate in Suffolk this summer

Rosy May performing one of her dances at The Hold in Ipswich

Dancer Rosy May performing 'The Islands' outside The Hold in Ipswich - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

There is an exciting summer of exhibitions, festivals and dance ahead for Suffolk, as a new cultural tourism campaign is launched in the county. 

Following an incredibly challenging time for the arts and entertainment industry, Head East has been launched to showcase talent and culture in both Suffolk and neighbouring Norfolk. 

The aim of the campaign is to get everyone enjoying events again - whether you want to immerse yourself in a free exhibition at a museum, or splash out on dinner and a night at the theatre. 

The arts scene in Suffolk has something for everyone, from the Moments exhibition in Bury St Edmunds, which features art from Banksy - to the First Light Festival in Lowestoft. 

Head East will also promote cultural milestones including the completion of Suffolk Archives' new building The Hold, which is now open in Fore Street, Ipswich. 

Rosy May performing one of her dances at The Hold in Ipswich

Venues, like 'The Hold' in Ipswich will play an important role in the Head East cultural tourism campaign - dancer, choreographer and activist Rosy May, is pictured in front of the building which is the new home of Suffolk Archives' - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Events and milestones aside, the organisers of Head East are passionate about highlighting the incredibly talented performers that are working in Suffolk. 

One of those is 23-year-old dancer Rosy May who lives in Ipswich. 

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Rosy, who is a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, was originally given Arts Council funding to run physical dance theatre workshops in 2020. 

Rosy May performing one of her dances at The Hold in Ipswich

Rosy May lives in Ipswich, she filmed a dance production called ' The Islands' during the coronavirus pandemic - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

However the coronavirus pandemic meant that Rosy had to move her plans online, and during lockdown she transformed the project into a filmed performance - teaching community Caribbean dance workshops via Zoom. 

In her film 'The Islands' Rosy dances alongside Anna Mudeka, and the women are joined on stage by talented musicians - who only add to the atmosphere of the performance. 

Speaking about her film, Rosy said: "Each island culture contributes to such diversity, and I wanted to celebrate that, not only for professional reasons but also to explore my own heritage.

"When my parents moved from London to Norfolk in the 2000s, the area was of course pretty much all-white. 

"Once, my father was asked by his church to tell them about Jamaica; my parents wrote up some notes about his life back home.

"I use these words in the narration of the Jamaica section of The Islands. I wanted his younger self to be revived - and to infuse his own experience into my work." 

The Islands, which you can watch here, was released on Windrush Day on Tuesday, June 22.

The film is part of the Aspire Black Suffolk programme - a community-led initiative encouraging positive engagement in African-Caribbean heritage and culture. 

Rosy May with her mum Kate Mason who also designs all her costumes

Rosy May with her mum Kate Mason who also designs all her costumes - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Speaking about the launch of Head East leader of Suffolk County Council, Cllr Matthew Hicks, said: "I am delighted that Norfolk and Suffolk are working together to welcome back local, regional and national visitors to the East.

"We have an outstanding cultural offer here - festivals featuring national and international artists, museums showcasing unique local collections and some big surprises including Banksy in Bury St Edmunds and The Power of Stories in Ipswich.

"We are also home to Sutton Hoo and were thrilled to see its story told in the major film The Dig. Our cultural assets are part of what makes a visit to the East welcoming thrilling and safe."

You can find out about all the exciting events taking place in Suffolk and Norfolk this summer here.