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10th Geopark Festival celebrations at the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark | #therockconnectsus!

To kick start the 10th Geopark Festival celebrations the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark is delighted to launch the Earth Echoes film. This film documents the development of the incredible community-led opening ceremony of the 7th International Conference on UNESCO Global Geoparks in Torquay, September 2016.

The film, which can be found at www.englishrivierageopark.org.uk, is also accompanied by the Earth Echoes Learning Pack. This resource provides the script, music score, mp3’s, as well as the project evaluation report. This can all be found in the GGN 2016 Archive area on the website.

The conference, which was held in September 2016 on the English Riviera, welcomed over 700 international delegates. It was hailed the most successful ever by both UNESCO and the president of the Global Geoparks Association.

The opening ceremony was in part due to an incredible Arts Council funded, community-led and performed opening ceremony. It told the story of the planet through all of the geological ages through to asking a fundamental question of today; what will we leave behind? It provided a key message that #therockconnectsus. The performance involved over 100 members of the local community, aged 8 to 80. Performers included students from South Devon College, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Doorstep and the Barbican Plymouth. The performance received a standing ovation from the international delegates who were truly enthralled.

Deputy Mayor, Councillor Derek Mills, said: “The artists in our English Riviera Global Geopark have an international reputation for their outstanding work, developing new music and theatre inspired by geology. Earth Echoes lived up to its promise to be a truly outstanding performance. I urge all our communities and schools to go online to go and check out this great resource where you can learn so much about our internationally reclaimed Geopark.”

Patrick McKeever, Chief of Section at the Global Earth Observation Section and as Secretary of the International Geoscience Porgramne UNESCO said “None of us knew what to expect from the opening ceremony of the conference. All we knew as it was a kind of musical. But as the performance started, we realised this was something much more. This was something deeply rooted in the local community. It was a celebration. It was a celebration of the people of the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark of their area, it was a celebration of the community of Geoparks. But, by the end, it was clear that this was a celebration of everything that has ever lived on this planet. Because across the amazing time-span of 4,600 million years, this performance was a celebration that is the rocks which connect us today to everything that has shared this planet with us from the time life first appeared. And through our UNESCO Global Geoparks – the Earth echoes to us that it is the rocks which connect us.”

Melanie Border, English Riviera Geopark Coordinator said “Sharing is inherent within the nature of all UNESCO Global Geoparks and in the background a wealth of information, materials and resources were being compiled as the performance was being developed from the musical score and script to the costumes and set. In addition to the short documentary film a project report provides the findings of an evaluation that took place from beginning to end assessing against the conference theme of ‘Health and Wellbeing through Creative and Active Engagement’. Thanks to the help and support of all partners involved this information has now been complied and a full Learning Pack developed.”

Nick Powe, chair of the English Riviera Geopark said: “One of the reasons Torbay has retained its UNESCO Global Geopark status can be directly attributed to developing and delivering successful community engagement projects. This began, and indeed continues, with Paignton Community Partnership’s volunteer development and maintenance of the popular GeoPlay Park in Paignton as a free resource to residents and visitors.

“The Earth Echoes opening ceremony, performed in front of a distinguished international UNESCO audience at the Riviera Conference Centre in September 2016, is another great example of local people coming together for a community-led project under the theme of the outstanding geological heritage found here. It is projects like this, committed to making a difference in the community, that maintain Torbay’s position as a highly respected member of the Global Geoparks Network. This newly available Earth Echoes learning pack allows access to best practise for those seeking to engage with local communities and volunteers around a common purpose. It will be of great be