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Hull graduate assembling best of new talent

Assemble Fest is an annual theatre festival that takes place down Hull’s Newland Avenue. Commissioning new work to be performed inside businesses and on the street, the team behind the event promise to deliver “performance where you least expect it”.

1st June 2017

Rich Sutherland is the Marketing Manager and an original member of Assemble Fest, which launched in 2014. A graduate of the University of Hull, he studied History with Art History from 2000 to 2003, followed by a diverse career in marketing before setting up his own agency, sobananapenguin.

“Assemble Fest is for everyone,” says Rich. “It invites people to appreciate the Newland community, from people who have lived there all their lives, to the student population and wide range of ethnicities that have made it their home. What better way to bring everyone together than through theatre, music and laughter?"

This year’s shows include a wedding breakfast in the Trinity Methodist Church and a musical feast in Larkin’s. Variety and quality are core principles of the festival, with the team collaborating with arts practitioners, local businesses and multiple funders to create an event that has been applauded by The Guardian and covered by the BBC.

“We’ve had a strong relationship with the University of Hull from the very start,” says Rich. “Many of the theatre companies over the years have been founded by Hull graduates, plus we work with the Faculty of Arts, Culture and Education to create opportunities for students.”

The festival is currently looking for volunteers to help out on the day. This can involve working in a venue, guiding the public, assisting at the pop-up box office, and generally making sure that everyone has a great time. If you’re interested in finding out more, please email

“I’ve lived around Newland for over 15 years and it’s never been so alive,” says Rich. “I’m from Hull originally but didn’t venture to this area until I became a student. I’ve been in love with it ever since and visit the avenue a few times a week, whether it’s a coffee in Just Desserts, a meal in Level, or a few beers in The People’s Republic.”

With 2017 being Hull’s time as the UK City of Culture, this year’s Assemble Fest is more ambitious than ever before. As well as the six shows being performed five times each, there will also be a programme of free family activity, plus a large closing event that combines many forms of street performance.

“This is our year in the spotlight,” Rich adds. “Don’t miss your opportunity to get involved in something amazing!”

Assemble Fest takes place on Saturday 3 June from 10am until 6pm, followed by the closing event, Our Street Our Stage, from 7:30pm. Full information can be found at