These two pieces are part of an event coinciding with the Spring Equinox on Saturday 20 March 2021, coordinated by the West Midlands Culture Response Unit to mark one year since the country went into the first lockdown.
The event will be made up of 3-5 minute audio artworks, including spoken word, podcasts, music and singing – from artists and organisations across the region. The pieces focus on nature, spring, outdoors, reflection, restarting and growth; as the cultural sector looks ahead to returning to live events, re-opening venues and welcoming back audiences.To enjoy the event, audiences should search for the hashtag #SpringsCalling across social media.
Pentabus Artistic Director, Elle While said: ‘I am delighted we have commissioned these extraordinary artists to contribute their spellbinding work to Spring’s Calling. I urge you to put your headphones on or watch the waves of their voices to transport you; your heart will swell, your smile will spread as we look forward to brighter days.’
The audio releases will be available on Pentabus’ website as well as social media from 10am on Saturday 20 March 2021.
Rural Touring has not stopped despite the Pandemic
Rural touring sector continues to be creative during 12 months of lockdown
As the anniversary of the first lockdown passes, and rural audiences remain to be forced to stay at home, artists, rural touring schemes and volunteer promoters have found ways to continue to entertain communities, outside of shows in their usual venues in village halls, pubs, libraries, and community centres. In the face of COVID-19 Pandemic, the rural touring sector used their close community connections and in-depth knowledge of the needs of their audiences and artists to pivot quickly and innovatively. They commissioned and delivered professional work, not just for the digital space, but they have found ways to reach those not able to get online.
This includes commissioned radio concerts, theatre on the back of lorries, commissioned video shorts, reimagined theatre online, artists partnered with community groups, hyper-local outdoor performance for micro audiences, building a symphony of the countryside, digital diaries, plays by phone, dramas by postcard, shared and posted equipment, the creation and distribution of wellbeing packs, drive-in events and so much more. Rural touring across the country has never been more innovative or creative.
Rural Touring Schemes and promoters have been quietly producing programmes with an aim to not shout about it as attracting large audiences to shows was not the desired intention. It has all been personally delivered for individual villages so they could maintain COVID Safe social distancing. Some shows were put on for 30 minutes on one village green then moved to do the same in the neighbouring community. The work has been for small and specific audiences to ensure the residences maintain access to high-quality cultural provision and all the community health and wellbeing benefits that go along with that.
Symphony of the Countryside, a short film collaboration, led by Rural touring Scheme Carn to Cove in Cornwall. It involved rural promoters and audiences across England, professional musicians, poets, plus amateur and professionally shot images of the British Countryside capturing the summer of lockdown. Arts Alive in Shropshire and Herefordshire launched Arts Alive on Wheels, touring small scale shows outdoors on the back of a lorry. Highlights across the north of England commissioned a series of special concerts, Highlights at Home, which aimed to cut through the digital divide, premiered on BBC local radio. Cheshire Rural Touring Arts supported Stute Theatre to develop a new piece of telephone theatre called ‘You Don’t Know Me But…’ which was a 1-1 live 20 min piece of theatre down the phone incorporating a soundscape and music as well as a live performer. Take Art in Somerset has developed a new network called Totally Local, incorporating 14 outdoor performances in 6 villages.
“Artsreach (RT scheme in Dorset) has felt like a ‘big hug’ during the pandemic,” says a Promoter on the south coast.
Spot On in Lancashire commissioned a season of video shorts. Black Country Touring hosted Zoom Café, an interactive show about the history of coffee and tea. Lockbusters, a series of film packs with a selection of themed DVDs, books and journals created by Live and Local across the Midlands was shared within rural and hard to reach communities. Online performances from the Rural Touring Dance Initiative have taken place, sharing contemporary dance commissioned specifically for rural audiences.
Dommy B, who produced a film with Spot On in Lancashire, says “Being occupied with something creative and kind, has been awesome and very helpful on a personal level to my mental health”.
As well as generating top-quality entertainment for audiences, rural touring schemes have also fought hard to continue to find ways to pay artists and freelancers. National Rural Touring Forum, the umbrella organisation for the UK’s rural touring sector, diverted some of its Arts Council of England funding to help artists, schemes and promoters with extra support, advocacy and communications. It produced one of the biggest and most ambitious digital conferences in the performing arts sector throughout October 2020. Holly Lombardo, NRTF Director, says
“I cannot express how proud I am to be part of an organisation that supports such a resilient, caring, and innovative sector. I am blown away by the response our members have had in continuing to bring work to communities.”
The Internationally acclaimed SONIA SABRI COMPANY, a dynamic dance and music company, announce details of the first ever online version of its highly popularLOK VIRSA Festival for 2021.
LOK VIRSA, fast becoming one of the leading Festivals of its kind in the UK, was firstpremiered at the Royal Festival Hall in London attended by 8000 participants.
The festival, now in its 7th year, celebrates some of the rarely experienced traditional and folkloric art of music, crafts and dance rooted in the lands of the Indian subcontinent.
LOK VIRSA which means ‘heritage of the people’, has toured the country annually and would normally take place live in a venue across one day. However, adapting the festival online during lockdown has meant SONIA SABRI COMPANY can transform the festival to a virtual world-class stage of workshops and performances over 7 days.
Sonia Sabri Artistic Director, dancer-choreographer, said: “This year, LOK VIRSA: GOOD VIBRATIONS truly is an International Festival. As well as artists from the UK, we are delighted to welcome artists from Iran, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, India, and Bangladesh. Each will come together across the week to bring colour, energy and high-class performances and events into our homes at what continues to be a challenging time for everyone.”
The FREE events will provide adults and children from diverse backgrounds with the opportunity to experience an array of arts and crafts workshops and participatory activities including Rangoli (using coloured rice, lentils, and flower petals to create eye-catching designs on the floor) Henna Painting, Block Printing and Weaving from award-winning artist Nilupa Yasmin. Indian folk dance with Kinga Malec.
The Festival’s dance offer features Festival Founder Sonia Sabri performs her own form of Kathak dance, Shadhona Dance Company (Bengali folk-dance performance); Folk Dance of Bangladesh workshop by Arthy Ahmed; Indian folk dance with Kinga Malec, Silk scarf dance workshop of Afghanistan led by a member of the Sonia Sabri Company and Afghani folk dance performance by Kathakaars.
Chris Sudworth, Birmingham Hippodrome Director of Artistic Programme added: “Birmingham is the biggest dance city outside of London, and at Birmingham Hippodrome we support several Associate companies, led by some of the best choreographers in the region, to reach new audiences with new work – Sonia Sabri is definitely one of those.
We have worked with Sonia since 2018, supporting her to create and tour her new family production ‘Same Same…But Different’ nationally, and to host a fantastic Lok Virsa Festival at the Hippodrome in 2019. We’re delighted to support Sonia to adapt the Festival for online audiences, offering workshops and performances, and to look ahead to further collaborations for the future.”
Further highlights of the LOK VIRSA: GOOD VIBRATIONS include music from Bahram Jamali (Iran), Kamal Sabri (India) and Shafi Mondal (Bangladesh) plus Rafique Khan (Rajasthani folk music performance) and Shyam Nepali (Folk Nepali music performance).
LOK VIRSA: GOOD VIBRATIONS is supported by Birmingham Hippodrome and runs from Monday 15th – Sunday 21st February. The Festival will open with a dance workshop on the Birmingham Hippodrome Facebook page.
Further artists will be announced over the coming weeks.
Events will be broadcast across Sonia Sabri Company’s social media platforms. All workshops and performance details will be available via Facebook. Events may be subject to change.
Twitter: @SoniaSabriCo Facebook: Sonia Sabri Company Instagram: SoniaSabriCo
To Celebrate 100 years Together: Village Hall Week 2021, Pentabus are re-releasing two live recordings – Here I Belong by Matt Hartley & Crossings by Deirdre Kinahan, a co-production with New Perspectives.
Here I Belong directed by Elizabeth Freestone celebrates village life, companionship and community while highlighting the challenges faced by people in rural areas. Over six decades from 1953 to 2016 Elsie’s life, relationships and the right to grow old in her own home will be played out on stage.
‘Intimate, affecting and quietly radical village hall theatre’
Elsie is played by Beatrice Curnew, and she is joined by Nathalie Barclay who will multi role four different characters.
Crossings directed by Sophie Motley is an evening of live music, waltzing and unexpected connections, as two actors dance you through a century exploring how we’ve returned, resettled and adapted. It was commissioned for the centenary of the end of World War I.
The cast features: Victoria Brazier who plays Margaret and Mirjana and Will O’Connell who plays Grace and Sean.
Pentabus Artistic Director, Sophie Motley, said:‘Village Halls are the lifeblood of Pentabus, and we can’t be in them at the moment. But, they’ve been around since the last pandemic. To celebrate, we’re sharing two brilliant plays which are elegies, celebrating village halls from 1919 through to today. It’s the closest we can get to actually being in one. Filmed live at Lustleigh Village Hall in Devon, and Ombersley Village Hall in Worcestershire, we wish we could go back to those evenings. Instead, we’ll look forward to the day we can return.’
The rural releases will be available from Mon 25 January till midnight on Sun 31 January 2021 via Pentabus.co.uk
To view the shows as they’re released:
Pentabus.co.uk | Youtube: PentabusTheatre
All Press Enquiries: Catrin John | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We offer direct 1-2-1 support for organisations in receipt of – or eligible for – Arts Council England funding, as well as a series of training sessions, events and webinars. We’re also building a resource bank which will be available online soon (and have produced a range of resources in response to the current Covid-19 crisis on topics such as Remote Working, Livestreaming and Income Generation).
Support usually consists of an initial diagnostic meeting (30-60mins) with a discussion around your current activity, what you are hoping to achieve, strategy development, prioritisation of areas of work and potential next steps or solutions. Following this the Tech Champion might email you support material, signpost you to relevant resources and/or arrange a follow-up call or support from another Tech Champion. Once the support has been completed, we ask you to fill in a satisfaction survey to help us improve our offer. The support is bespoke to your organisation’s needs, meaning we tailor solutions and advice to be in line with your capacity and resources.
Our nine Tech Champions have specialist backgrounds in:
· Box office, ticketing and CRM
· Data analytics
· Digital content and streaming
· Digital strategy and marketing
· eCommerce and merchandising
· Email marketing
· Search engine optimisation and marketing
· Social media
Need more convincing? Read some testimonials we’ve received over the past 12 months:
The [Tech] Champs have come into our meetings to share their advice, delivered webinars and audits for us, sent over reams of helpful information, and sensitively provided expert feedback on our digital profile. They are busy, and so are we – now more than ever – but even occasionally extending our team in this way has been invaluable, and we often refer back to their advice. This service is a great asset to small companies like ours: not only are the Tech Champions very knowledgeable, we know for sure that they’re batting for us.
We really didn’t know where to turn for advice and felt completely isolated and being dictated to by an agency who were ‘blinding us with science’ and not taking the time to explain technical issues to us for a project that was costing us a considerable amount of money. Our gut feeling was that there was another way and we too were confused by the seeming contradiction re the video/YouTube issue. We now feel we have a better understanding and can challenge with facts and information that we trust.
And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear about upcoming events and sector support offers!
During lockdown, Highlights Rural Touring Scheme commissioned musician Rob Heron , storyteller Nick Hennessey and the team behind the sell-out theatre show Ladies That Bus to each create a short piece for radio. Created by rural touring artists, specifically for rural audiences, these pieces of work will be broadcast first on BBC Radio Cumbria’s The Arty Show, next Monday 14 September before being made available online.
Musician Rob Heron hails from Penrith, and has played many Highlights venues with his Newcastle based Tea Pad Orchestra. He brings a taste of ‘Newcastle’s finest swing-honkytonk- rockabilly band (fRoots)’ to the broadcast.
South Lakeland based Nick Hennessey forges a bridge between the song and the spoken word, as an internationally acclaimed storyteller, playwright, folk singer, song writer and musician.
In early 2020, Ladies That Bus sold out venues across Cumbria with their comedy drama based on the 555 bus route from Lancaster to Keswick.
BBC Radio Cumbria presenter Helen Millican will also interview the artists, village hall promoters and audience members during the show.
Highlights has partnered with rural touring schemes Arts Out West , Cumbria and Carn to Cove , Cornwall to ensure that offline arts content can be provided to rural communities at this time. With funding from the National Rural Touring Forum .
Created by Daphna Attias and Terry O’Donovan
Written by Chris Goode - Directed by Daphna Attias
Performed by Terry O’Donovan
Creative Technology Design by Marmelo Digital and Sound Design by Yaniv Fridel
Video Content by Preference Studio.
Experience on demand from Thursday 10 September at 7.30pm and available until 10 March 2021
What happens to your digital life after you die? If there was a magic button, would you delete your online existence?
User Not Found is a new immersive video podcast from acclaimed theatre makers Dante or Die , about what happens to our online identities after we die. Inspired by the company’s hit live show, this new digital theatrical event will be available to experience for free, in partnership with the Guardian Newspaper on Dante or Die’s YouTube channel and The Guardian website.
Terry and Luka were together for nine years until Luka left Terry. Then Luka died leaving Terry as his online legacy executor.
Co-Artistic Director Terry O’Donovan will reprise his celebrated performance for this new digital adaptation of the critically acclaimed 2018/19 live show. With support from digital development agency, The Space and Arts Council England, the company has created a virtual site-specific world which explores the ethics of digital ownership, public and private grief and shifting notions of connection and community.
In a rapidly changing digital age, a story of contemporary grief unfolds through this intimate, funny performance that gently interrogates our need for connection and the fate of our digital afterlives.
Dante or Die have collaborated with digital agency Marmelo Digital, to transform the bespoke app created for the live show into a digital theatrical experience.
Charge your phone, plug in your headphones and find a quiet space for this intimate, meditative and funny story of one man grappling with something deeply private.
Running time: 50 minutes Age guidance: 14+ Embedded captioning can be turned on/off
User Not Found has been designed for smartphones with headphones; the viewer experience will not be the same on a desktop/ipad. It will work on any smartphone model and with in/over ear headphones. Free streaming is available from 10 September 2020 for six months.
Stories from the Sticks is a brand new podcast featuring tales from rural communities created by Scratchworks Theatre supported by Arts Council England. Scratchworks has toured theatre shows to isolated communities across the South – West and nationally for many years and the theatre-makers have met many wonderful characters along the way. City-dwellers themselves, Laura, Siân and Alice have always appreciated being welcomed into remote villages to hear stories of love, history, local myth and community spirit.
‘We’ve heard some amazing tales from people in villages across the UK. Lockdown has turned everything upside down – we can’t perform in these communities right now – so instead we’re providing a platform to share their stories with the wider world.’
Laura Doble, Scratchworks Theatre
The series will consist of 6 episodes, each one interviewing a guest or several guests from a different region. The first episode features Eddie from Dolton, a well-known character who moved to North Devon 37 years ago. A retired plumber, recalls carnivals, jubilee celebrations, motorbikes, stuffed-dog doorstops and the time Charlie Watts from The Rolling Stones made him a cup of tea. As Scratchworks say: ‘Dolton is a no-nonsense ‘get the job done’ kind of place with a cheeky smile you can’t help but find infectious’.
The interviews are interwoven with original music by Jack Dean plus narration and singing in Scratchworks’ signature style giving a distinctly theatrical feel to the podcast. The company are also keen to receive creative responses from listeners: ‘We’re hoping these podcasts will inspire others to get creative too. We’re asking people to creatively respond to the question ‘If the place where you live was a dessert- what would it be?’ People can send in responses in any format – drawings, photos, music, short films – and we’ll share them on the Scratchworks website.’
Stories from the Sticks can be downloaded from most podcast platforms including Apple, Spotify, Deezer, Pocket Casts, Stitcher and A Cast. A subtitled version is provided on Youtube. All links can be found via www.scratchworkstheatre.com.
Creative responses to the podcast should be sent to email@example.com ENDS
Notes to Editors
The series was created and written by Laura Doble, Alice Higginson-Clarke and Siân Keen of Scratchworks Theatre. Music for the series was created by Jack Dean. The series was edited by Andrew Armfield. The series is supported by Arts Council England.
About Scratchworks Theatre https://www.scratchworkstheatre.com/ Scratchworks are a physical ensemble of three women who work collaboratively to create highly visual, playful theatre from scratch. Founded in Exeter in 2013, they share a passion for creating original stories and use a diverse mix of physical movement, puppetry and live music to entertain and inspire our audiences. Recent touring locations include New Diorama Theatre, Greenwich Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre, PULSE Festival Ipswich, Salisbury Arts Centre, Theatre Royal Bath and VAULT Festival where we received the ‘Festival Spirit Award’ 2017. We have also received an NSDF award for ‘Best Overall Body of Creative Work’ at the Edinburgh Fringe 2013 as well as nominations for the Charlie Hartill award 2016 and the IYAF: Best of Brighton Fringe Theatre Award 2017.
Media Contact Alice Higginson-Clarke Co-Artistic Director firstname.lastname@example.org 07753 129518
This is an open call for artists to provide a mix of digital and non-digital content for the second season of ‘In Your House’ from October to December 2020. We hope to receive applications for brilliant small ideas as well as larger scale projects!
Deadline for expressions of interest 31 July 2020
Artists selected by 21 August 2020
Successful proposals must be ready by 5th October, with project plan and promotional material, and the work ready for release to the public between the 5th October and 18th December 2020.
“In Your House” a new programme of exciting, fun and interesting arts to enjoy from home! We will programme something for all ages across a range of art forms including; Music, Storytelling, Theatre, Radio Drama, Visual Art, Magic, Animation, Poetry and Craft.
The fee is between £600 and £4,000 per artist (excluding VAT).
The next Arts Alive at Home event will be on Thursday 18th June at 2.30 pm, where you can watch The Fairy’s Kiss performed by Scottish Ballet.
A gorgeous one-act ballet inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale ‘The Ice Maiden’, and composed by Stravinsky. Thanks to an ingenious new design by Gary Harris, Scottish Ballet was able to revive the production in 2017 and capture it for online audiences.
This short form is designed to help you asses whether or not your show is Rural Touring ready. We take you through the very basic needs of rural touring and give you a list of things to consider. We also point you to other helpful resources and pages along the way. Please note this form is NOT a way of submitting your show to be considered for touring but should be used as a tool to equip yourself with the knowledge you need to approach schemes.