Dolphins to take over city in spectacular arts project

Dolphins are set to bring some colourful fun to the streets of Southampton, give a timely boost to the pandemic hit local arts and business communities in the city and also help protect these magnificent creatures in the wild against the many threats they face each day.

Today, UK based marine wildlife charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), and partners Wild In Art, have announced that the pod of up to 30 colourful dolphins will pop up and spy hop all over the streets of Southampton early next August as part of the colourful Discover Dolphins! sculpture trail.

The life-sized fiberglass dolphins can be seen on their trail around the city until mid-October 2021, before being auctioned to raise money to help protect dolphins in the wild from pollution, accidental death in nets, capture for captivity shows and hunting.

The event, run in partnership with GO! Southampton and Southampton City Council, gives the city the chance to be the latest location to benefit from the successful Wild in Art sculpture projects, which have previously seen Go Rhinos in Southampton, along with Snowdogs by the Sea and Snailspace in Brighton and Hove. To- date, Wild in Art events have contributed more than £15 million to charitable causes and £2.4 million to creative communities.

The dolphin sculptures were inspired by the graceful, intelligent and social bottlenose dolphins that live in the wild in the waters around the UK coastline bringing joy to people, and whom hold a special place in our hearts.

‘With its proud maritime history and heritage, Southampton is the perfect location for a marine mammal sculpture trail’, said Sharon Stevenson, community and events fundraising managerat Whale and Dolphin Conservation. ‘As well as attracting visitors to Southampton and helping business, this mass-appeal public arts event gives local people the chance to become tourists in their own city over the summer.

‘During lockdown we have seen nature reclaim its spaces and the trail will allow people to do the same, providing an opportunity for the community to come together in Summer 2021. In addition, Discover Dolphins! is an unmissable 12-month PR opportunity for local businesses and a unique opportunity to showcase the huge wealth of artistic talent in Southampton.’

Charlie Langhorne, managing director and co-founder of Wild in Art said, ‘We are very excited to be working with Whale and Dolphin Conservation to create Discover Dolphins! for Southampton.’

‘Our events are designed to bring the enjoyment of public art to everyone while offering new ways for people to explore their local area, but we need the support of local businesses to make it happen.’

‘Sponsorship of a dolphin is an unprecedented business development, employee and community engagement opportunity and a great way to support the arts and creative industries. Support Discover Dolphins! and together we can create an unforgettable event for the city.’

Claire Whitaker OBE, Southampton’s UK City of Culture 2025 Bid director said, ‘The dolphin trail is a great opportunity for Southampton to showcase the city’s incredible artistic talent. This public art event will engage local artists to bring the city to life and will connect into the values and principles of city’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2025. The trail will help to enhance the public realm, brightening our streets, parks and neighbourhoods with a free open-air trail for the whole city to enjoy. We are privileged to be working with Wild in Art and are delighted that they have chosen to collaborate with Whale and Dolphin Conservation to bring the dolphin trail to Southampton.’

‘Our animal themed public art trails are a firm family favourite and roaring success in Southampton’, said.’ Cllr Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Culture and Homes, Southampton City Council.

‘It is great to be working with Whale and Dolphin Conservation to bring this to our streets, parks and venues next year. The trail will be a great way for local residents and visitors alike to rediscover our great city, explore iconic locations and find some hidden gems. We are proud to be supporting this wonderful engaging project as we continue on our journey to become UK City of Culture 2025.’

Giles Semper, executive director at GO! Southampton said, ‘We’re delighted to be working with Whale and Dolphin Conservation and Wild in Art to bring the Discover Dolphins! trail to Southampton next year. These types of trail are proven to be highly popular with residents and visitors alike and present opportunities for local businesses and artists to get involved too. It is also a particularly fitting addition to the city calendar in the year Southampton’s UK City of Culture bid will be submitted. We can’t wait for the dolphins to arrive in the city.’

For details of sponsorship packages or to find out how artists can get involved, please contact Sharon Stevenson at WDC (Sharon.stevenson@whales.org).w