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 really the location of that first date, the renowned Notting
Hill Carnival, that is beautifully symbolic with the path their lives have
followed. It truly is a real-life “meant to be”.
A year after that first date, Sandy dragged Garner back to her native South Tyneside, with Garner travelling all over the region teaching dance classes, while Sandy led costume workshops in community centres and schools. Their passion for what they did was infectious, and the clear desire for carnival shone through from those who they worked with. But 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 always understood that the arts and theatres can be intimidating, and that for some people, a place where they may feel that they don’t belong. 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 truly believed that this quality should not just be reserved for professionals – why shouldn’t the community be able to get involved with and deliver something of an equally high standard?
They had found a barrier. Now it was time to break it down. In 2009, The Creative Seed was born, to give a real chance to those who wouldn’t usually get it.
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. Then, in 2019, they found their first real home at St Hilda’s Pit Head in South Shields.
Fast forward to present day, and The Creative Seed has just acquired their third permanent base, with an annual reach of over half a million people. And this is just the beginning.