Category: Backstage

Dusting off the set and props – March email

Welcome

Welcome to the March addition, the third of of my year long journey in supporting the creative industry to return to our communities in the wake of the current pandemic.

The latest announcements from the UK Prime Minister of the 22nd February regarding his road map to unlocking the economy has been welcomed by most industries, with creative being to reopening reopen from the 17th May. In case anyone has missed them, you can download the full details here.

YouTube Channel

As with previous emails this one is accompanied by a YouTube video, this month I talk about the 2025 Trust Fund, click here to watch, also subscribe to the channel to get the latest updates. You will also find my series The Paradox of the Arts here as well other videos, including the recent pre-recorded live stream that gives more information on the Community Spirit programme. 

Online Speaking Engagements

Just to remind you all that I am making myself available to speak to organisations and boards about my The Greatest Show on Earth Project and you can get involved. You can contact me through the usual channels at the bottom of the email.

Resetting the Stage

As the creative industry begins to make its plan its reopening and comeback, we need to look at ways that we can sustain ourselves going to forward. You can find out more by clicking here. As part of The Greatest Show on Earth Project I created a series of workshops that look to encourage boards and volunteers to think outside the box as we work our way back into our communities.

Volunteering

For those interested in being part of the Bridgewater (Somerset) Community Spirit event, whether this be part of organisation or on the day help you can now sign up through our website: www.aticket2ride.co.uk/registation

If you are thinking on putting a similar Community Spirit event in your area and would like to tap into my volunteer system, then please do get in touch through the usual channels at the bottom of email for more information.

Theatre Through the Years Medieval Years

By Medieval Europe theatre was being used as a way to educate people on the new Christian religion, with priest regularly performing to retell the celebrations of Christianity.

More widely in communities’ groups of people would perform morality plays. These were so often performed by ordinary people and organised and funded by guilds of craftsmen and merchants. Other forms of theatre were mystery and farces.

Today’s theatre still has medieval roots, including stage directions and most plays are written in ordinary everyday language. Taken from the lessons of medieval times which aimed at educating people, during this pandemic, where we can’t do what we want to do to entertain, we can go back to our roots by using our crafts to teach and educate on the current situation.

Keep Updated

I am keeping the website updated so please do keep an eye out for key information. I am also happy to hear feedback on these emails, the programmes or indeed what you are doing as the UK begins to unlock. So please do feel free to contact me at any time either through social media or email.

If you know anyone who would like to receive these emails please get them to email me through info@aticket2ride.co.uk to be included, don’t forget to add this address into your contacts to stop the emails going to your junk box, as well as subscribe to the YouTube channel and follow me on social media.

Laying the Foundations – February Email

Welcome
Welcome to February’s email. For those of you who are new on the mailing list these emails are all accompanied by a YouTube video which you can find by clicking here, the theme this month is Volunteering. Don’t forget to subscribe and press the bell for the latest upload notifications. So, January brought the UK into another lockdown, meaning all venues are forced into yet another closure, so not a good start to the New Year, is probably an understatement. But focusing on the positives, we have seen lots of people showing their support for the arts, wanting theatres reopened, because they know, like we do just how much the creatives impact have on their communities and individual lives.
Look Forward
Like with many businesses during the current COVID situation, I am not able to offer up a full list of services. However, I am happy to speak via Zoom to board, staff and volunteers about the project and the 2025 Trust fund. It will give you an idea how you can get involved and how it could potentially impact you and your local community. I’m charging a small fee of £10 per engagement, this will be placed in the 2025 Trust Fund. If you would like more information, please feel free to email me or message me through the Facebook page or direct message on Ingram both profiles are @at2rentertainment.
Supporting Local
I think what we are learning from the pandemic is that we need to think small, over the last couple of decades or so we have seen this idea of nationalisation and globalisation. Where businesses become corporate and set up as many outlets across the country, some individuals owning more than one of these businesses and employing thousands of people. I think 2020 has shown that this model really doesn’t work, how many of national chains put in requests of funding from the government or investors? How many people lost jobs as a result of these businesses closing down? So right in the heart of these hard times, when unemployment is high and funding is scares and people are looking to find ways to make a difference, as an industry this is our moment, we are at the heart of every community, a concept that I spoke about on video in latter part of 2020, you can find them on my YouTube channel. So, let’s encourage people to be creative it’s what we do best as an industry, connecting people with their inner selves through imagination. Pre pandemic the creative industry enjoyed thousands of hours of support from volunteers who showed the love for our industry by helping to making it happen in their own communities.
The 2025 Trust Fund
Don’t forget to donate to the 2025 Trust fund. Over the course of the year through these emails and videos, you will learn more about the Trust Fund and what it means to the industry, also how you can get involved, both in terms of fundraising and being part of the strategic planning that will give accountability for ensuring the money arrives where it is due and on time. Click here to donate.
Community Spirit
In 2018 a £4.5 million program was launched by the UK Health Secretary that would see the arts put on prescription from doctors in an attempt to tackle health issue such as depression, social isolation and even those with complex needs. Activities include drama, singing, visiting museums and creative reading. These were not about replacing, but instead to be worked alongside conventional therapies and medicines. I think that even with the current restrictions we should still be able to fulfil this role within our communities by whatever means we can. The review on this incentive in December 2020 showed how positive the impact Arts on Prescription has become. Maybe this is a starting point to bring our audiences back to our venues, it will also bring new unsung talent to light. As we recover from the pandemic, we need become proactive and explore new, inclusive and engaging ways to reach out to our communities, things we have never dared to try before. The Community Spirit programme is about sharing in each other’s ideas, because the lockdowns during this pandemic have shown, we need to move forward in our approach because government is not going to jump at supporting as part of its response. So, as an industry we need find ways to support people who suffer with isolation and other mental health issues, as we have heard this is worse than ever during this lockdown. Plus, there will always be away to link those programmes to our main aims and objects. As a way of sharing and networking I have created a Community Spirit group on Facebook, you can join by clicking here. There are also local versions of the group that you are welcome to join via the same means. Don’t forget in August I am hoping to launch the Community Spirit main event (COVID pending) which is a fundraiser for the 2025 Trust Fund and the opportunity for the industry to seek out hidden talent within our communities. Finally, though the plans for the Main Event have currently stalled slightly due to the uncertainty of the pandemic’s restrictions and length of lockdown, we are opening registration for those wishing to volunteer in the Bridgwater event on the 22nd February, please head to www.aticket2ride.co.uk/registration. If you are putting on your own version of this event and decide that you would like to tap into my volunteer system to for recruitment, please get in touch through the usual channels to find out how.
Theatre Through the Years – The Beginning
It’s important that as an industry we never forget where we have come from, because there are lessons embedded in our past that will help us in our future and it holds the keys to our road out of this pandemic. So here in the UK theatre started as a set of traditional rituals performed by Celtic and Pagan cleric, but real theatre as we know was created in Greece, comedy and plays were first performed in 6th century BCE. It was developed as it made its way through Europe, like the Olympic flame, arriving in the UK around the 5th Century, where over the cause of 2000 years we have adopted, developed and changed it to what we know today. In this time of uncertainty, where the industry is forced to a standstill, we need to stop, take stock and return to our roots. Not to Greece, but to the way we sold it the whole entertainment thing to the crowds, both as audience and participants, by going out into the community and doing what we love more. The 21st century extends the community around us as we meet and find people online who share in our own personal unique creativity.
Final Thought
Keeping in touch is so important as we begin this long road to recovery. I find there is nothing more uplifting then hearing both positives and struggles from others as we share this journey together. So please do feel free to contact me at any time either through social media or email.   Networking and supporting each other is more important than ever before, but the industry will get through this, we will come back bigger, better and stronger than ever.   If you know anyone who would like to receive these emails please get them to email me through info@aticket2ride.co.uk to be included, don’t forget to add this address into your contacts to stop the emails going to your junk box, as well as subscribe to the YouTube channel and follow me on social media.

Mental Health in the Arts

It’s so good to see that mental health in the arts is finally making its way up the industry’s agenda. Across the social spectrum as well there are so many organisations and a campaign trying to break the stigma that surrounds what is often a delicate and sensitive issue.

I briefly touched on this in June 2018 as I write about GPs in Wales putting the arts ‘on prescription’. You can read that post here. But with an ever increasing strain on an underfunded health service by a government that has put money higher on their agenda then the people they serve, it quickly becomes apparent that industries need to find ways to look after their own.

Mental health is so important, it can either make or break a person whatever industry they are in. The creative arts are one of those industries that can be very isolating at times especially in the current economic climate where jobs are not guaranteed, and almost by irony the same creative industry can be a help.

So wouldn’t it be good if venues themselves had an in house service or at least someone that staff, cast and crew could all use whether they are resident or not. I am not saying that each theatre needs to employ a specialised doctor and councillor, but just have appointed resident staff that have the appropriate training and can be available.

Wiltshire Creative has published a guide for venues to use when working with artists with Mental Health Problems: Click here to see guide.

The guide lays out exactly what Mental Health is and how it sits within the UK laws and regulations. It also gives a list of charities and organisations that can be of help, as well as recommending the ‘Mental Health First Aid’ Course which is very quickly becoming widely available across the UK.

As a venue or theatre having this information is so important, you may not be able to deal with the immediate situation, but you should be able to support an individual by being able to point people in the right direction and that can only be effective by having the right contacts.

We are not just looking to make theatre accessible to more artist, we need to be open a wider audience. How about becoming an autistic friendly theatre? While autism is not a mental health problem statics have shown that those with autism are at a high risk of having mental health issues.

A lot of venues are now creating ‘safe spaces’ for those with dementia, while this again is not a mental health problem, those who care for loved ones with the disease can feel isolated, and it is this feeling that can lead to mental health problems.

Opening your venue to become a hub for individuals with mental health issues to use the creative arts as a means of support, while allowing them to socialise and gain confidence in a safe environment. Of course nobody is expecting a creative team to organise a support day or group as experts in dealing with mental health issues, but by taking the advice of Wiltshire Creative about building those contact of organisations that can support that is the first step for a venue when it comes to stamping out the stigma surround mental health.

Remember any charity or organisation will be more than happy to help and support a venue that wishes to reach a wider audience while supporting those artists who work for them. If any industry can be the driving force behind removing stigma about anything in society the arts can, but first they must lend that support to their own.