UK Young Artists is working with The Mighty Creatives and Arts Connect, with investment from Spirit of 2012, to deliver a series of arts festivals inspired by the work of William Shakespeare. The project spans three years, with a different cohort of artists leading each year in regional settings in the areas of Corby, Horncastle, Tamworth and Wolverhampton. The artists will be working with young people in each of the locations to devise and deliver a festival in their area, and also create a range of different performances and pieces of art for the festival. Young people will lead the decision making process and choose how their festival will be developed and delivered for their communities. Each young artist will be encouraged to secure an Arts Award.
UK Young Artists ran an open call for artists to lead the project, which comes with a £15,000 fee for each selected artist/company. Here, we highlight the selected artists and find out more about their Emerge projects.
IMPULSE COLLECTIVE & SCUFFLEBOX THEATRE COMPANY
CORBY AND WOLVERHAMPTON
Impulse Collective are an Arts Council funded company creating exciting theatre based in the Midlands and formed in 2013. Their work has been described as 'joyful, youthful, masterfully built' (FringeGuru). They use large amounts of verbatim, comedy, autobiography and projection, which is often used in experimental ways with exciting physical theatre.
Impulse Collective are an Ideastap Award winning company, one of Curve's Breakthrough Companies and an associate company with In Good Company.
Scufflebox are a group of energetic (and rather silly) storytellers with a penchant for creating tongue-in-cheek performances of classic texts. Scufflebox was founded in December 2013, and since then, the team have performed a variety of rewired classics, including a Shakespeare inspired show at The GREAT Festival of Creativity in Shanghai, China, and Hamlet Cafe and Jules Verne's A Journey To The Centre Of The Earth in Story City festival, Leicester.
Impulse and Scufflebox have formed an exciting collaboration for Emerge; combining Scufflebox's experience and approach to classic texts (usually through play and merciless script cutting) with Impulse's own devised-based work in order to help the young people curate their festival. 'We wanted them to know that there's not just one way of doing things- be it expressing the Bard's work or running a festival- and already they're challenging everything! In our Wolverhampton group, there's already talk of a Romeo & Juliet inspired film set within two divided schools.' - Kirsty Mealing, Scufflebox Theatre Company.
UKYA chatted to the companies about their projects so far:
UKYA: What have you been up to with the young people in Wolverhampton and Corby so far?
JESS (Impulse): The project is in full swing over in Wolves. We've found a venue for the festival, a name and all the students have chosen their roles and responsibilities for planning the festival. The schools and college have been brilliant. The Young People have really taken to creating a festival and are really owning it, which is what this project is all about. In Corby, there has been a strong interest in the project from students and most of the workshops have been focusing on festival roles and a festival name (but the name is top secret at the moment!). In the new year, workshops at The Core at Corby Cube will begin with young dancers, actors and singers getting involved by producing performances for the festival.
UKYA: How do you feel delivering this project is helping you develop as artists? Have you learnt anything new about yourselves?
KIRSTY: It's ace seeing what the guys running the festival want from it. It's quite an insight into the area and the community, and more importantly what makes them excited to create. For us, it's almost an insider way of learning about our own audiences whilst developing our workshopping techniques. It's even nice to be introduced to new ideas and ways to engage with Shakespeare from our young festival curators that we'd never have thought of before.
JESS: I agree. The project is really helping us develop as workshop facilitators. We are now all Arts Award Advisors and its teaching us how to empower young people creatively and how they can own their artistic ideas. Collaborating with Scufflebox is giving us an insight into how they lead workshops and how they develop work around Shakespeare which is great for us!
Jasmine Gardosi is the current Cheltenham Poetry Festival Slam Champion, Mix It Up Midlands Slam Champion 2015 and one of the winners of the International Pangaea Poetry Slam 2015. She has appeared on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb and was shortlisted for Birmingham Poet Laureate 2016/18.
Since completing her work with BBC Arts making short-form content as a Young Creative, including the one-minute film How to Be a Poet with Dyslexia, she has worked as a Poet in Residence for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and is collaborating with Autin Dance Theatre on a sexual health show combining dance and spoken word.
Jasmine is slightly obsessed with taboo, its deconstruction and its power over language. At TEDxBrum’s International Women’s Day 2014, she delivered a talk exploring the taboo surrounding menstruation and she continues to run workshops that combine creativity with sex education and other awkward topics.
Other facilitation work includes running West Midlands Poets’ Place, school workshops and CPD courses for psychotherapists and counsellors on using writing in therapy. She has previously hosted regular poetry nights in Birmingham and now co-organises the current Nexus series with Beatfreeks.
UKYA: Tell us about your project so far, what's it called and what have you been up to with the young people?
JASMINE: The Emerge project doesn’t have a title as such - but you can call it the Tamworth Challenge if you like. I’m delivering two sets of workshops - one with Landau Forte Sixth Form and one with Fired Up Theatre, both for young people aged 11-25. The workshops aim to address a number of different art forms and skills, such as marketing, promotion and festival production. The projected outcomes are to facilitate young people to produce their own festival in April, and in doing so get them to think about themselves not just as creatives but also decision-makers. As well as earning an Arts Award and engaging more with their community of Tamworth in the process, I’m hoping that the production of the festival will allow young people to feel empowered to do more for art in their region and beyond. The idea of the 'Challenge' is to push each set of workshop participants beyond what they're used to doing and what they're comfortable with. I want them to question whether being an artist means just writing down words or just learning choreography - or whether it can also mean going beyond the art itself and considering it within the context of the wider community.
UKYA: Have you discovered anything new about your practice, or developed your skills through the process so far?
JASMINE: The purpose of the project is to engage young people through all manner of art-forms - dance, music, drama, and more. As a specialist in leading poetry and writing workshops, this is helping me develop as a facilitator of multiple art-forms and is stretching my practise to other workshop styles. This will also be the first time I artistically lead a festival, whilst guiding young people through the process; I'm excited for the challenge!
UKYA: Tell us about yourself and your practice:
SOPHIE: I am a community dance artist, choreographer and business owner working and living in the picturesque county of Lincolnshire. I founded my business do-dance in summer 2013 after graduating from Plymouth University in Dance Theatre. do-dance is a mobile dance business that prides itself on delivering expressive movement, and creative dance projects in the heart of the rural Lincolnshire community. I have a breadth of experience working with all ages and abilities, from working with Early Years adventures group in the local theatre right through to the over 60's exercise classes in community halls. I have worked within structured school environments delivering the GCSE course to free play and creative classes with in the community. When asked why I wanted to set up my own business in little old Louth, I reply “I always knew that I wanted to come back to my home town after graduating, I have amazing ideas for dance in Lincolnshire that I want to see happen. Just because we live in a rural area of the county does not mean we should be denied the opportunity to experience and participate in dance, move and express ourselves creatively”. I have always loved the arts, so I often find myself expressing creatively through other mediums such as painting, drawing, sculpture, craft and photography.
UKYA: How is your Emerge project shaping up so far? What will the festival be like?
SOPHIE: The festival I am leading on is in Horncastle, Lincolnshire, which will be taking place on Sunday 23rd April 2017. I am working with 2 groups of young people from Banovallum School and Horncastle Theatre Company, we meet weekly and they have the opportunity to contribute their ideas as to what makes a good festival. In our groups we have Event Runners and Event Makers, Event runners are looking into logistics, budgets and feel of the festival and how this all relates back to Shakespeare, where as the Event Makers are concentrating on creating something that is related to Shakespeare that can be shown at the festival, for example we have a dance version of Romeo and Juliet, The Best Bits of Shakespeare theatre production and a selection smoothies inspired by his plays. Overall the festival will include dance, drama, music, art, sculpture, history, theatre, food, performance, craft , poetry and graffiti.
UKYA: Has the project helped your artistic development in any ways?
SOPHIE: Emerge is an exciting project that is developing my skills as a leader and artist. I am learning new skills like team management, something that as a freelancer is not often developed. It is a wonderful thing to be able to share your ideas with young people that one day could be in this job role, inspiring a generation and in turn being inspired by them.
Festivals will take place on 23rd & 24th April 2017. More information about each festival will be available soon so please keep your eyes peeled here and the The Mighty Creatives' website.