North East Connected

Thrifty Ceremonies to offer a wonderful welcome into the world

A group of specially trained artists will be on hand to discuss alternative ways to welcome a new child into their family at this year’s Festival of Thrift.

Thrifty Ceremonies, a project by the award-winning Cumbrian arts company Dead Good Guides, aims to engage Festival visitors in thinking about the potential for creating their own naming ceremonies.

Sue Gill of Dead Good Guides explains that naming ceremonies offer a choice: “People who are not members of a church may be reluctant to consider baptism for their child on account of the specific promises they are required to make, and which they may feel are inappropriate.

“Naming ceremonies are secular events that are personal and focused on the new parents and their hopes for the child’s future.  They can also be a particularly valuable and important way of binding a new family with adopted children and step children.”

Dead Good Guides believe that this project is the first to be programmed at a festival and visitors on 23 and 24 September at Kirkleatham, near Redcar, will be able to visit a beautifully dressed arbour to get ideas, confidence and inspiration to create their own ceremony.

Sue added: “It’s the best festival in the country to prototype secular ceremonies as they are in keeping with the ethos of Festival of Thrift – you can do it yourself and it need not cost an arm and a leg.

“We are not expecting to lead actual naming ceremonies impromptu at the Festival, but who knows!”

Festival of Thrift Director, Stella Hall, said; “We’re a free, family-friendly event and the philosophy of Thrifty Ceremonies matches perfectly with ours. We are fortunate to have artists of the calibre of Sue Gill and John Fox, co-founders of the legendary Welfare State International company working with Tees Valley Arts to lead training for regional artists and leaving a legacy of celebrants in our area.”

To make the idea sustainable, Dead Good Guides will run an intensive Summer School on the Kirkleatham site for five days leading up to the Festival, which will involve up to eight local artists, recruited by arts organisation Tees Valley Arts, who work across community engagement and who will be available with skills and confidence in the region to support families in the future.

Thrifty Ceremonies’ creator, Dead Good Guides, seeks to offer a new role for the artist as catalyst, hands-on facilitator and celebrant who recognises the artist in all of us and liberates the innate creativity of every age through participation and collaboration. Where re-generation is of the soul and not of economics.

A packed programme of activities, events and workshops takes place throughout the Festival of Thrift weekend.  For further details visit

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