Reaching out to audiences Our mission at the Arts Council is Great art and culture for everyone. We have five strategic goals to help us achieve this. Goal 2 aims to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to experience and to be inspired by the arts, museums and libraries, irrespective of where they live or their social, educational or financial circumstances. Here we show how some of the schemes that help us achieve this are being rolled out in the North.
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Involving young Muslim women in Bradford and Manchester
The Arts Council is supporting Common Wealth Theatre in its development of a site-specific performance event based on interviews with Muslim female boxers â€“ in particular Ambreen Sadiq, a former national champion. No Guts, No Heart, No Glory explores being young, fearless and doing the unexpected and challenges the assumptions and expectations held of young Muslim women in both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities. It is performed by four 16-18 year old Muslim performers, recruited following a series of workshops in Bradford schools. They helped develop the script alongside Pakistani new writer Aisha Zia. None of the actors has been involved in either performance or boxing before and Ambreen Sadiq has been coaching them in boxing skills.
Common Wealth Theatreâ€™s production of No Guts, No Heart, No Glory. Credit: Christopher Nunn
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Common Wealth always seeks to stage its work right in the community, being – as Director Evie Manning puts it – ‘really really committed to non-theatre audiences’. No Guts, No Heart, No Glory is supported by a wide range of participatory audience development activities. In May 2014 Common Wealth held a three day event in Bradford’s undercover Oastler Market, involving readings from the play, taster performances, boxing workshops with Ambreen Sadiq, and open discussions on such topics as being young, female and Muslim. On 15 June they stage a big event at the Bradford Mela, and in September they are orchestrating a flash mob in the centre of Bradford for which preliminary workshops are currently being held in schools. The play itself premieres at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August and runs at Huggy’s Gym in Bradford from 9-20 September. There are also performances in Manchester from 4-8 November, where the show will be preceded during October by workshops in youth centres and schools organised by Contact Theatre, who also co-produce. In addition to support from Arts Council England, funding also comes from the Scottish Government, Bradford Council, Theatre in the Mill and Contact.
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Working with the Ukrainian community in Bradford
Freedom Studios, the Bradford based theatre company, seeks to ignite passion for live theatre, bringing in people who don’t usually watch or work in it. The company’s close relationship with the Ukrainian community in Bradford began four years ago, during research for their site-specific project The Mill – City of Dreams, based on the stories of local and migrant wool workers. Interviews with people from the Ukrainian community and time spent with first generation older people at their Wednesday lunch club, run by second generation Ukrainians, all contributed to the creation of a Ukrainian character featuring in the final production. The Ukrainian’s community’s reaction to the portrayal was positive. As Deborah Dickinson, Freedom Studios’ Creative Producer, puts it: ‘They felt we had got it right. It was true to their experience.’ Freedom Studios kept up the connection and when researching their 2014 production Home Sweet Home – about the experiences of growing old in contemporary Britain – went back to the community for help. Deborah Dickinson explains what emerged: ‘The older women enjoy singing traditional folk songs at their Wednesday meetings and we commissioned Josh Goodman, a composer and choir leader to work with us and them in shaping something for performance. We spent time with them listening to their songs and understanding their meaning and importance in the lives and culture of the women. The songs had been part of their lives from birth, during the trauma of Stalin and upheaval in their homeland, in the German prison camps, and in Britain where they were relocated as ‘aliens’. The songs had given them courage and continuity as the world around them changed. We decided to focus on bringing out the emotional meaning of the songs for audiences who did not understand Ukrainian.’ ‘In the final production four older women come on during the last scene in their beautiful traditional blouses and sing unaccompanied. Despite being in their late eighties, they were determined to perform. It is incredibly moving.’
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Many members of the Ukrainian community attended the performances in April 2014, and the relationship continues. Home Sweet Home returns to Bradford from 16 -20 September 2014. It is a co-production with Entelechy Arts and performances are also being given in Stockton and London.
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Focusing on those places of greatest need
Through the Creative people and places programme we are focusing on parts of the country where peoples’ involvement in the arts is significantly below the national average. The programme takes a new approach by allowing communities and grass roots organisations to play a leading role in inspiring others to get involved with the arts. According to the latest statistics from our annual Taking Part survey, there are 17 areas of low engagement in the North West, nine in Yorkshire and 14 in the North East. This has resulted in nine diverse and innovative Creative people and places projects throughout the North area: Time to engage with art in Northumberland bait – the Creative people and places project in South East Northumberland – is working with partners to support people to create and take part in quality arts activities and experiences
Community leaders taking part in bait workshop. Credit: Jason Thompson
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across the area. The consortium, comprising the Woodhorn Charitable Trust with Northumberland College, Northumberland County Council, Northumberland County Council Public Health, Queens Hall Arts and VCS Assembly, seeks to create long-term change in levels of arts participation, driven by the creativity and ambition of people living in the area. It also aims to have a demonstrable effect on the well-being of local people and levels of social energy and activism within communities. The consortium has been awarded £2,461,400 from the Creative People and Places programme. Current and future projects include a partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service to set up a new friendship group for older people in Seaton Sluice; a scheme with New Writing North to launch a new writers group to support young people to develop their writing skills and Market Stall, a co-commission with C-12 Dance Theatre, first seen in South East Northumberland, now on a UK tour. Leftcoast programme raises engagement in Blackpool and Wyre LeftCoast, Blackpool and Wyre’s Creative people and places consortium, which we are supporting with a £3 million grant, has launched its programme to bring great art to everyone on the Fylde Coast – an area where involvement in the arts is currently in the lowest 20 per cent of areas nationally. According to the Active People Survey 2009/10 only 37.21 per cent of Blackpool’s population and 38.74 per cent of Wyre’s population took part in the arts. The consortium behind LeftCoast seeking to improve these statistics is made up of The Grand Theatre in Blackpool (a National portfolio organisation), Blackpool Council, Wyre Council, Merlin Entertainments and lead partner Blackpool Coastal Housing. Under joint directors Michael Trainor (Artistic Director) and Julia Turpin (Executive Producer) Leftcoast is prioritising work around four key strands of activity. These are: engaging more audiences with high quality art, developing individuals and infrastructures working in the arts and cultural sector; importing, exporting and generating great art; and changing perceptions both internally and externally. The project is just seven months old but past and future initiatives already include: • Two acts programmed as part of Showzam, Blackpool’s Festival of Circus and Variety held in February 2014: Acrojou’s Wheel House, a rolling theatre directed by Flick Ferdinando and commissioned by Without Walls and Les Enfants Terribles Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie • A flagship international collaboration with the Grand Theatre to bring Danish Physical Theatre Company Neander to the theatre in summer 2014 for their only UK performance
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Wheelhouse by Acrojou, Left Coast Shazam. Credit: Claire Griffiths
with the aim of introducing new local audiences, particularly teenage boys and men, to the theatre • A collaboration with voluntary-led Fleetwood Festival of Transport to introduce a new arts strand to the hugely popular festival on 20 July 2014: the Blackpool based creative business Squirrel & Tiffin will be turning a vintage tram into an art installation terrarium using real life trees and knitted insects to create a Secret Garden environment • Eight new leadership programmes for artists and art activists based in Blackpool and Wyre Going Right Up Our Street in Doncaster Iconic and experimental art will be going Right up our street thanks to a Creative people and places grant of £2,570,924 towards developing arts bases in five communities across Doncaster. The consortium behind the project is led by Doncaster Community Arts (DARTS). Other consortium members include Doncaster Voluntary Arts Network (DVAN) and the trust behind Doncaster’s new performance venue CAST, which opened in 2013. CAST is one of our National portfolio organisations and has also received funding through our National Lottery funded capital programme.
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Burnley Canal Festival. Credit: Canal & River Trust
Turning a canal into a creative corridor The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is set to be the centrepiece of a creative corridor for the arts following a ÂŁ2 million grant from our Creative people and places programme to a consortium led by the Canal and River Trust. The money will be used to connect the communities that live on and alongside the canal, and beyond, in Pennine Lancashire through high profile, worldclass arts and events. The other consortium partners are Burnley Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council, Groundwork Pennine Lancashire Trust, APPL (Arts Partners in Pennine Lancashire) and Barnfield Construction Limited. Over the next 10 years, local people will be involved in programming, producing and experiencing high quality arts projects that have roots in the waterway communities they pass through. Ideas include festivals, screenings, performance, environmental arts projects, temporary digital installations, exhibitions and pop-up cultural spaces. The aim is for the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to become known locally, nationally and internationally as place to come for a unique heritage, cultural and leisure experience.
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St Helens Dream. Credit: Karen Wright
St Helens Saints Community Development Foundation. Credit: Karen Wright
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Celebrating St Helens’ cultural heartbeat Two iconic emblems of St Helens’ heritage – glass and rugby league – are at the core of an ambitious arts project after a consortium led by Saints Community Development Foundation secured a £1.5 million grant from the Arts Council. Public art, dance, music, theatrical displays, creative writing, digital and visual arts will all be on the agenda to celebrate themes that have been described as the town’s ‘cultural heartbeat’. Many of the events will be staged in St Helens town centre and organisers hope to involve thousands of people, including those who have never participated in the arts, to celebrate what is distinct about the town. Saints players, past and present, and glass workers will be among those taking part. The scheme will build on the success of Dream, the 2008 Big Art commission by Jaume Plensa. The other organisations in this consortium are Helena Partnerships, FACT (Foundation for Arts and Creative Technology), St Helens Council and St Helens Arts Partnership. Exploring Hull’s rich cultural and social histories Roots and Wings is a programme to be delivered by a consortium in Hull led by Artlink following receipt of a £3 million grant. The project, which has three exciting commissioning strands – Producing City, Discovery Programme and Made in Hull: Celebrations – will draw inspiration from Hull’s rich cultural and social histories, and be driven by existing and emerging creative talent in the city. Other consortium members are Hull Truck Theatre, Volcom, Hull City Council, and Hull and East Yorkshire Community Foundation. Making a Scene in Kirklees Hundreds of arts and cultural events will be delivered in North Kirklees over a three year period thanks to a Creative people and places grant of £2 million made to a consortium led by The Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield. Other consortium members include Batley Festival Group and Kirklees Council. The Making a Scene programme will support the development of long term relationships between local communities, artists and arts organisations. It aims to create a permanent change in the way the arts contribute to the quality of life for people in North Kirklees. Shaping cultural experience in Durham A £1.5 million award from our Creative people and places programme will provide a huge opportunity for the people of East Durham to shape their cultural experience over the next three years. Generating inspiring, engaging and quality arts activity – festivals, exhibitions and events – for people living and working in East Durham, the scheme will make the most of the area’s
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unique towns, intriguing villages, dramatic landscapes and sweeping coastline. The goal of the project is to produce great art that is valued and appreciated by those living and working in East Durham. The consortium behind the scheme includes Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, East Durham Trust and Forma Arts and Media. A cultural Spring Awakening in Sunderland and South Tyneside A consortium has been awarded £2 million for a scheme entitled The Cultural Spring which sees communities in Sunderland and South Tyneside working with local, national and international artists and producers on a series of transformational arts events. Highlights will include empty homes being transformed into art galleries, large scale commissions with organisations such as the Royal Shakespeare Company and local mentoring from Sunderland’s home-grown music scene. The University of Sunderland is lead partner in the consortium and the other core partners are The Customs House in South Shields and the Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture Trust, a new charity formed to develop the arts and cultural provision in the city. The Great North Passion – the BBC’s flagship Easter broadcast 2014 – was the scheme’s launch event: devised in partnership with the BBC, and made possible with an extra £100,000 awarded to the BBC from the Arts Council’s Exceptional award scheme. Current Cultural Spring projects include Summer Streets, an afternoon event to celebrate community music and local musicians in Sunderland and South Tyneside at Margaret Thompson Park in July 2014; and a series of art taster sessions for summer 2014.
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Follow the Herring: bringing inspiration to the East coast
In 2011 the Arts Council launched a ÂŁ45Â million Strategic touring programme which is designed to encourage collaboration between organisations, so that more people across England experience and are inspired by the arts, particularly in places which rely on touring for much of their arts provision. It is this source of funding that has helped launch such imaginative projects as Follow the Herring. Thanks to a grant of ÂŁ218,832 from the programme a life size knitted boat is touring to13 towns the length and breadth of the east coast of Scotland and England celebrating our coastal heritage through a combination of theatre, singing, arts and crafts. A theatre performance of Get Up and Tie Your Fingers will recreate the story of the 19th century
Follow the Herring knitted boat. Credit: The Customs House
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‘herring lassies’ who followed the herring fishing fleets down the coast to meet the catch at each port of call. The show’s opening night in Musselburgh in May 2014 was a sell-out. The tour echoes the women’s journey, taking the tale back to the communities where it began and giving them the opportunity to create and participate in a piece of theatre alongside a professional production team. Local people have been encouraged to join in as part of the performance choirs or by knitting a herring or through the Ch-arted website which offers educational tools, projects and class room activities. Follow the Herring is a co-production by The Customs House and the Guild of Lillians theatre company. More information about the project can be read here.
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Providing cultural experiences for youngsters in rural areas
Youngsters in rural areas are benefiting from the presence of another organisation supported in the North by the Strategic touring programme. Under the Create Tour programme run by the Rural Arts rural touring scheme three professional performance companies work with young people to create a short curtain-raiser performance that then tours with the professional company as part of the ON Tour scheme. For example, Phoenix Dance Theatre Company became involved in this rural touring scheme for the first time in 2013. In 2014, Phoenix spent four days working with local young people at Brooklyn Youth Centre, Norton to create a short piece to be performed as a curtain raiser for their REfined tour. 2014 has also seen the launch of Rural Arts Under this scheme groups of young people have taken on the task of promoting Sarah Willanâ€™s solo show The Novel Detective to their own community via social media. Both the show and the Young Promoters scheme are part of a national strategic rural touring programme developed through a partnership between Contact and NRTF and supported by the Arts Councilâ€™s Strategic touring scheme. Support for the Create Tour and for the Young Promoters scheme also comes from Ryedale District Council, North Yorkshire Youth Service and with support from Tuned In, Redcar, and Ryedale Youth Support Service.
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Opportunities for the homeless and for those feeling isolated or depressed
People who have experienced homelessness or suffer from depression and isolation are being offered the chance to improve their lives through taking part in theatre workshops and performances run by Collective Encounters. This Liverpool-based organisation, supported by the Arts Council, specialises in theatre for social change through collaborative practice. Collective Encounters has been working with the homeless community in the North West since 2008. Its Transitions programme includes accredited training through performance in hostels and day settings, out of town residencies, performances and a work placement and mentoring scheme. The Professional Human Beings group, for example, is open to anyone
Collective Encountersâ€™ production of Saintland. Credit: Mark McNulty
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with experience of homelessness who wants to make theatre. Seize the Day is a modern day folk song they recently wrote and recorded together. Collective Encounters’ Other Ways of Telling scheme uses music, story-telling and drama to combat depression and isolation. Now in its second year, the scheme is delivered in partnership with St.Helens Arts Service. The group’s third and latest production, Saintland – Where Poundland meets Neverland, was performed in May 2014 at St Helens Central Library.
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Putting ‘real people’ centre stage
All the world will be on stage – from toddlers to those in their seventies – in the latest production by National portfolio organisation Quarantine, a company that uses the lives and experiences of real people as the starting point for all their shows. Summer, Quarantine’s new large-scale production, premiering at The Warehouse, Regent Trading Estate, Salford in June 2014, is about ‘being alive, right now’. It involves 45 locally recruited performers aged between 18 months and 78 years, from all walks of life including an electrician, a joiner, a journalist and school children. None of them has ever been involved in a performance of this kind before. A company policy of sharing a meal before each rehearsal gives all the participants a strong feeling of a collective ownership of the play, which itself opens with the cast doing the same thing as their audience: eating and drinking.
Quarantine’s production of Summer. Credit: Gavin Perry
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Summer is the first part of an exciting quartet of performances that look at the human life cycle, to be created by the same artistic team at Quarantine over the next three years Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring will be made in four separate parts and then played as a marathon event from 2016. Quarantine is a tenant in Islington Mill, the independent arts organisation in Salford. The warehouse where Summer is to be performed is just close by, and the show seeks to connect with local people, living in tower blocks nearby, working in local businesses, and attending local schools.
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Involve the whole family
This year’s Family Arts Festival takes place between 17 October-2 November and will involve arts and cultural organisations across the North. It is part of the Family Arts campaign supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, with the aim to develop the range of arts events and activities available to families – the quality as well as the overall experience. The Campaign is the initiative of six leading UK arts trade organisations: The Association of British Orchestras, Dance UK, The Independent Theatre Council, The Society of London Theatre, UK Theatre and the Visual Arts & Galleries Association. The first Family Arts Festival took place in October 2013, and entertained tens of thousands of families across the UK with its ambitious and diverse first year programme. Over 900 organisations hosted over 1,900 events as part of the festival, across all forms of performing and visual arts, and it was supported by leading figures from the arts including Lord Lloyd Webber, Zoë Wanamaker and Ed Vaizey.