Touring Arts to Southeast Libraries

Are you from a library in the south east? Are you an artist who has toured work to libraries, or is it something you are considering? You may even be from a library elsewhere in the country but have had a fantastic experience with touring arts you’d like to share.

In partnership with Arts Council England, over the next seven months we are looking into south east libraries touring. We want to find out how library services have been getting involved with touring arts and finding ways to provide their users with opportunities to experience arts and culture. We want to know what sort of work artists and touring companies have been touring to libraries, their motivations, highlights, and what insights they’ve had into good libraries touring models.

We aim to support libraries and artists offer more touring arts to communities linked with libraries, some of whom may not usually visit an arts venue. Libraries offer a neutral, familiar and welcoming space for everyone; the ideal setting for offering an arts event which provides enjoyment, learning, new experiences and a sense of community.

We would like to introduce Claudia West from Arts Council England, who is supporting our enquiry into libraries touring in the south east. Hear Claudia talk about our project and what’s up and coming for you to get involved with.

Survey

If you are an artist, touring company, or from a library service in the south east, please complete either the artist or libraries survey below, to help us find out ways to support more libraries touring in the southeast. The deadline for this survey is Wednesday 30th October. Please share the relevant survey with your network – we want to hear from artists and touring companies, library assistants, volunteers, senior management; people getting involved with touring to libraries in diverse ways so we can see the bigger picture.

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Video series

Next month we begin collaborating with people with libraries touring experience, across the south east and beyond, to offer videos covering several topics surrounding arts in libraries. On the Mondays below we will release a video on this blog, and we will invite you to pose any questions to the presenter who can address those in their video.

Monday 14 October

Lyndsey Wilson, Company Manager at Culturapedia talks Spot On Libraries in Lancashire, focusing on her unique approach to working with libraries

Monday 11 November

Krystal Vittles from Suffolk Libraries discusses perceptions of the library in libraries touring

Monday 25 November

Joanna Gray, Partnerships, Projects and Funding Manager at Cambridge County Council talks arts partner and effective communication between libraries and artists

Monday 9 December

Dayna White, Programme and Development Officer from The Curve in Slough – with topic ‘knowing your communities, and knowing quality’

Monday 17 February

Sarah Bedingfield, Service Manager Innovation, Digital and Libraries, Kent County Council, discusses feedback and evaluation strategies which support more consistent arts activity

The deadline for submitting your questions for each presenter will be two Mondays before the video release – email questions to juliastafford@creativeartseast.co.uk

Learning Resources to support libraries touring

Based on our research, and what we learn from you through the survey, we will be creating a toolkit to support you in libraries touring. The resource will be available both online and as a handy booklet, which will be available at the Pitch Up event taking place on March 20th – see more about this below.

Pitch Up Libraries

An important date for your diary: Friday 20th March

Invitations for this event are to follow; for now keep the date in your diary to join us and library services from across the south east at a Pitch Up Libraries event. Taking place at Chesham Library, it will be an exciting day for libraries, artists and arts venues to initiate conversations for possible collaborations on touring work to libraries, and meet arts venues with the potential for partnerships in providing more enriching arts and cultural experiences for library communities.

If you want to find out more email juliastafford@creativeartseast.co.uk

SURVEY

Once again here are the survey links for artists and for libraries.

Please share this as widely as possible with your network: the more people we hear from, the more we can help people access arts in libraries.

Do get in touch with Julia at juliastafford@creativeartseast.co.uk if you would like to find out more about any of the above, or simply to share your libraries touring experience.

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CAE Secures First Corporate Partnership with AvantiGas

As you know, Creative Arts East turns 25 this August, and for the last few months our team have been in full anniversary-fundraising-campaign mode! For the countdown to our 25th birthday, we’ve launched a ‘£25k for 25 Years’ fundraising appeal, with the aim to raise £25,000 through public donations and corporate giving. Every penny raised by August 2019 will help us continue to bring the very best arts and cultural activities to rural and/or under-engaged communities in Norfolk, Suffolk and the wider East, in order to increase the health, vitality, skills and aspirations of the rural residents within them.

Every year, we are less able to rely on investment from public funding bodies, and local authorities are squeezed tighter and tighter all the time. We are committed to making sure that the rural communities we serve have equal access to life-changing, high-quality arts experiences, and we have been campaigning hard to raise awareness of our work and encourage charitable donations that will ensure we can continue to thrive, not just survive, for another 25 years and more.

At the East of England finals of the Rural Business Awards back in October 2018, we formed a connection with one of the event sponsors, LPG supplier AvantiGas, who presented us with our award for ‘Rural Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project of the Year’. After discussions with their fantastic and clued-in marketing team, we are delighted to announce that AvantiGas have become our first ever Corporate Partner!

The LPG provider, who supply off-grid homes and businesses, has a strong presence in the East of England and shares our community ethos – aiming to give back to the communities in which they operate. They have described Creative Arts East as “the perfect fit” for their sponsorship support and we were blown away by the commitment their team showed to our cause.

Phoebe Munday, Marketing Executive at AvantiGas, said:

“We’re committed to investing in our community areas and working with organisations that make a big difference to the people that live there. Rural living can be lonely for some people so we’re looking forward to investing in an initiative that brings people together.”

Speaking about the partnership, Natalie Jode, Executive Director at Creative Arts East, commented:

“We are delighted to announce AvantiGas as our first Corporate Partner and welcome them into the Creative Arts East family. Their energy and enthusiasm for our work really shone through and we’re excited to get this partnership started so we can learn from one another over the next year and beyond.”

The partnership comes at the end of another successful year for AvantiGas. Having continued to grow its LPG business – particularly within the domestic sector – it has also seen its cylinder and mains gas offerings flourish in the competitive market. For us here at Creative Arts East, Corporate Investment is a new venture for us but a vital one to ensure that the charity can continue to make a difference, and we’re excited to see this relationship grow over the next year. We’ll be shouting more about our partnership as it develops, so look out for this!

What A Year! Our Highlights of 2018

2018 was a huge year for us here at CAE. We’ve been shouting much louder about the significant and transformative impact the arts can have on rural communities, particularly in terms of health, wellbeing and aspirations, and have been committed as always to demonstrating this throughout all of our work. This culminated in us being crowned ‘Rural Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project of the Year’ at the East of England Regional Finals of the Rural Business Awards, and we’ll be heading to the National Finals in February 2019 to compete against the winners of the other regions. The team have so many other highlights of 2018, and we’ve picked out a few of them to share below!

Our Day Out Celebration Events: One of our favourite parts of running the Spirit of 2012-funded Our Day Out project (participatory music and dance workshops for isolated older people in Norfolk), is when we bring all the groups together to meet up, sing and dance as one. In 2018 we had two fantastic events with our 6 groups: The Big Sing in March with musicians Mary and Kim, and the Sharing Day at Cley Wildlife Centre in October with Glass House Dance and Les Chappell. It’s such a joy to see our participants share in creativity and see just how much they get out of attending the sessions.

Films With Friends: We teamed up with South Norfolk Council and East of England Co-op to deliver the Films With Friends Project – an initiative aimed at making village cinema more accessible for people living with dementia and to raise awareness about the condition. Seven of our South Norfolk cinema groups took part – they received Dementia Friends sessions at their screenings; a ‘how to’ guide and training from academic specialists; and bespoke marketing to increase awareness amongst the wider community that these groups are taking steps to become more dementia friendly.

Take On Me: This was definitely one of the most exciting projects we got involved with last year! We teamed up with award-winning theatre company Dante or Die as they toured their 80s themed show ‘Take On Me’ to leisure centres across the country. We helped them bring it to Alive Oasis in Hunstanton, West Norfolk, and worked with an amazing Local Coordinator Debbie and an outstanding community cast to make the show happen. Our favourite outcome was the life-changing impact the experience had on the community cast, with many telling us how taking part had improved their confidence enormously.

Writers’ Residencies and Commissions with Inn Crowd: Last year, we’ve worked with the National Centre for Writing to commission two writers’ residencies in rural Norfolk pubs, as part of the Inn Crowd project. Inn Crowd supports rural pubs to host live spoken-word inspired performances and to engage different audiences that perhaps wouldn’t normally attend arts events, and reinforces the pub as an important community hub. Acclaimed spoken-word artists Byron Vincent and Luke Wright both spent time in different rural communities in Norfolk in 2018, observing rural life and how the pub functions as part of this. Their observations have formed part of new work, which will be touring pubs in 2019.

Our First Fundraiser: In December, we held our first ever fundraising quiz! We’re aiming to raise £25,000 during our anniversary year to ensure we can continue to make a difference to rural communities for another 25 years, and our Christmas Quiz was the first big event we’ve done to help us reach this target. It was a fantastic night, with friends, family, staff and board members joining in on the fun. Keep an eye on our social media and newsletter for the total amount raised!

So that’s some of our highlights of 2018… what are yours? Were you involved with or did you attend any Creative Arts East-supported projects last year? What were your favourites?

We’re looking forward to an exciting 2019 ahead, so do keep up to date with all of our news, content and upcoming events via our blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and monthly e-newsletter.

“Great to have Theatre ‘Out in the Sticks’”

Since 2016, we’ve been working in collaboration with fellow rural touring organisation Applause (who do what we do – but in Kent and Sussex), to deliver a unique programme of spoken word-inspired performances, specifically tailored to rural pubs! INN CROWD’s aim is to support pub landlords in offering something a little different to their regular punters and attract new customers too, by enabling them to host high-quality performances in their pubs. This helps cement the pub as a vital part of rural community life, and allows local people the chance to see fantastic professional live art in a familiar and comfortable setting, often without having to travel far at all.

The third season of this brilliant project has just kicked off, with INN CROWD’s first co-production in the form of ‘Holmes & Watson: The Case of the Rhyming Crime’ by Dr Illingworth and Mr Simpson, delighting audiences in 4 rural pubs (The Burston Crown, The Wheatsheaf in West Beckham, The King’s Head in North Lopham and The Dun Cow in Christchurch). As well as this commission, the INN CROWD project will see local pubs host performances by critically acclaimed and award-winning poet Luke Wright (Norfolk and Norwich Festival hit for 2 years running); a one-man play where the famous Lord Byron regales local pubs with his tales of debauchery and romance; and an interactive show called ‘Voted Out’ by local performance poets Mark Grist and Tim Clare, in which audiences can use state-of-the-art technology to interact with the performance, voting real-time on the subject of the poems themselves. Other upcoming events include shows by duo Living Spit, who will deliver their unique brand of musical comedy, and previous INN CROWD hit David Mynne with a one-man version of Great Expectations.

So if you fancy a bit of poetry with your pint, head to our website to see if INN CROWD is coming to a pub near you! If you’re a pub landlord who’s interested, or an artist with a story to tell, more details about the project and how you can get involved are on the INN CROWD website. If you’ve been along to an INN CROWD event and want to share your thoughts and photos, use the hashtag #INNCROWD on Twitter and Facebook!

“Bring entertainment to the pub; that’s what pubs are for. Bring the villages together. Fantastic!”

INN CROWD is a partnership project run by rural touring organisations Creative Arts East in East Anglia and Applause in Kent and Sussex, with artistic support from Writers’ Centre Norwich and expertise from Pub Is The Hub. It will continue until 2019, with majority funding from Arts Council England and the Esmée Fairburn Foundation.