WHERE WE STARTED
WHERE WE ARE NOW
When Sandy and Garner Harris, a wardrobe supervisor and a dancer, went on their first date in 1992, they would never have imagined that 28 years later they would be at the helm of their very own acclaimed arts and carnival company, curating parades attended by tens of thousands of people.
But it was the location of their first date, the renowned Notting Hill Carnival, that is beautifully symbolic with the path their lives have followed. A real-life “meant to be” story.
A year after that first date, Sandy dragged Garner back to her native South Tyneside. Garner travelled all over the region teaching dance classes, and Sandy led costume workshops in community centres and schools.
Their passion for their work was infectious, and the desire for carnival in the region was prevalent in those they worked with. The husband-and-wife team have always had one main vision – to make the arts accessible for all. By practically growing up in the theatre, they understand that the arts and can be intimidating for some people.
Of course, there have always been community focused arts projects, but Sandy & Garner felt that these often didn’t have the high quality shine of professional productions. They believed that this quality should not just be reserved for professionals – why shouldn’t the community be able to get involved with and deliver art of an equally high standard?
Having determined a barrier, it was time to break it down. In 2009, The Creative Seed was born, giving a real chance to those who wouldn’t usually get it, and supporting the arts community in the North East.
From a unit in TEDCO, to a studio “shed” in their back garden, to having a base in South Tyneside College – The Creative Seed has travelled the region.
In 2019, The Creative Seed established their first real home at St Hilda’s Pit Head in South Shields. In the following years they aquired Carnival House in Southwick, as well as the neighbouring Old Library Building, expanding their vision further.
The team has similarily grown, expanding from just the husband and wife partnership to a company of around 30 employees.
The Creative Seed has grown to become a key part of the South Tyneside community. The parades, carnivals, music and art events they orchestrate create a place for many creative indiviuals in the North East, where previously there wasn't one.
Carnival House has become a much needed arts centre in Sunderland, providing classes for children and adults with a range of abilities, as well as being a welcoming cafe and bar for the community to enjoy. Some of the workshops at Carnival House include 'Drama Fun & Games', 'Carnival Drumming', and Zumba for both children and adults.
St. Hilda's Pit Head has developed into a digital hub and the home of The Creative Seed's popular YouTube channel - Sessions From the Pit. Sessions From The Pit is a series of high quality episodes that are proffessionally produced, consisting of interviews and performances with local artists. Sessions From the Pit has made the increasingly digital delivery of art accessible to everyone in the area, and not just those that can afford expensive equipment.
As well as The Creative Seed's commitment to the arts, the company has been making moves towards encouraging a more diverse, inclusive, and enviromentally friendly community. Being inspired largely by Brazil's famous Carnivals, appreciateing and respecting other cultures has always been at the centre of what The Creative Seed do. The Creative Seed also host Eco-emporiums at Carnival House, which provide a space for artisits and other crafts-people to sell up-cycled and eco friendly goods.