North East Connected

Festival of Thrift appoints director to lead year-round campaign for sustainable living

The company behind the Festival of Thrift event has appointed an Executive Director to help expand its role and impact as a year-round champion of sustainable living.

Emma Whitenstall has joined the Festival of Thrift Community Interest Company (CiC) to step up its campaigning beyond the award-winning large-scale annual weekend event at Kirkleatham near Redcar and to actively increase partnerships with organisations looking to support more sustainable ways of living.

Following the success of the online versions of Festival of Thrift’s weekend event in September 2020 and its recent Fix-it Fortnight campaign, Emma will also focus on using digital technology to enable the company to evolve further into a year-round operation.

Having spent the past decade working in the tech sector, building creative digital communities through event production and delivery of business support, Emma also worked with Festival of Thrift’s team to take the event online last year.

She said: “My digital background certainly came in handy with our first ground-breaking livestreamed digital event in 2020 and my experience and network will also allow me to explore what technology Festival of Thrift can utilise to not only survive but thrive in the ‘new normal’.

“Last year was a year of challenge and change but that didn’t stop our dedicated freelance team refocusing and expanding our reach to take our message wider, not just to those who can join us at our beautiful green site in Kirkleatham, Redcar, but worldwide and online.

“Our digital transformation has already begun. Going forward technology will be crucial for allowing us to campaign and offer year-round support as well as exploring how emerging technologies can enhance our much loved September weekend event, both at the event itself and to widen accessibility in a creative and immersive way for those who cannot attend in person.”

Emma added: “The climate crisis is growing, and we all need to take action, now. In our back yards, in our living rooms, in our communities, every day.  So we are no longer just an annual Festival – though we are really looking forward to returning this September – but we are also becoming a campaigning organisation encouraging everyone to be a part of the solution – not part of the pollution!

“My new role as Executive Director is essentially to ensure the sustainability of the festival itself through fundraising, capacity building and robust governance. I have huge ambition for the festival’s annual event and the company that is behind it and I am very excited to get started.”

Festival of Thrift’s Creative Director Stella Hall is delighted that Emma is joining the team.

She said: “I am hugely excited about this next chapter in the evolution of Festival of Thrift, Emma brings fresh ideas and creative thinking and a passion for culture, sustainability and digital transformation.

“I look forward to sharing the leadership of the organisation with her and growing and learning new ways to engage people in our mission to build more sustainable and creative, resilient communities.”

Festival of Thrift CiC was established in 2015 with a mission to benefit the community and advance public awareness of sustainable living. Now based in Redcar, it reaches new audiences across the UK and beyond year on year, building new partnerships with organisations that share its ethos.

The annual Festival of Thrift event is scheduled to take place at Kirkleatham, Redcar on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th September 2021.

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