Professor Vanessa celebrates last Showzam

Professor Vanessa ToulminThe University of Sheffield’s Professor Vanessa Toulmin will bring wonder and pizzazz to Blackpool this week as she once again curates Showzam! - the annual festival of circus, magic and variety, for the last time.

Professor Toulmin has decided to concentrate on events and festivals in Sheffield from now on, making this year’s Showzam! her sixth and final festival in Blackpool.

Professor Toulmin’s last Showzam! promises to be bigger and better than ever before with acts showcasing world premieres. Exciting new shows are still being added to the packed programme for Showzam! (February 15 – 24 2013) thanks to £99k funding from Arts Council England.

Two of the contemporary shows benefiting from Arts Council funding will be based in the Winter Gardens Olympia, with the third element forming part of the festival’s Street Theatre.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Head of Cultural Engagement, the National Fairground Archive and Professor of Popular Entertainment at the University of Sheffield, said: “My final Showzam! has been a great opportunity to blend Blackpool’s wonderful, historic past with a modern twist working with the UK’s leading theatre, arts and circus companies.

“We have all fallen in love with Blackpool and have created site specific shows which celebrate its wonderful history and the future. Following the huge success of Festival of the Mind in Sheffield last year, I’m now focussing on Sheffield-based projects to keep this momentum going and celebrate all that Sheffield has to offer the world.”

Professor Toulmin is the creator of Festival of the Mind, which attracted over 16,000 visitors to the events held throughout Sheffield last year (20 – 30 October 2012) and is set to return to the city firstly as a mini-festival in September 2013, then as a full festival in autumn 2014 - creating new projects, ideas and collaborations to inspire Sheffield again.

Managing Director of Showzam! organisers Marketing Blackpool, Natalie Wyatt, said: “Showzam! promises yet again to provide audiences with an eclectic mix of entertainment. This is already an amazing event offering audiences of all ages a great variety of shows, theatre, comedy and magic.

“With this extra funding from Arts Council England, our visitors are being offered something new and different. Showzam! is all about the unusual. We want people to visit Blackpool and enjoy experiencing something new while being entertained.”

In The Olympia, The Invisible Circus will perform a new show specially commissioned for Blackpool. Entitled The Last Waltz, this immersive event will see the audience completely involved as they wander through a series of installations set in an arcade with seaside promenade-style frontages. Performers entertain from the rooftops while the crowd experiences the interactive environments of the booths below before the scene gradually unfolds to reveal The Palace of Dreams finale spectacle.

Meanwhile in the Baronial and Renaissance Suite, Spymonkey bring their part illusion, part horror and part blockbuster movie Spookshow – a popular entertainment mash-up from 1930s-1950s America mixing live action, film, animation, mentalism, puppetry, illusion, hauntings, hysteria and horror.

Arts Council England is also funding Wondertours – a free comedy walking tour of Blackpool and its rich entertainment history.

Additional information

Many Showzam! events are free and tickets for all shows are available through the Showzam! website, Tourist Information Centre and the Showzam! venues.

For more information go to or call 01253 478222.

The University of Sheffield

With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, and 2007).

These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world. The University’s research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

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For further information please contact:
Amy Stone
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 1046