Developing our Inclusive Credentials

Here at Creative Arts East, we have always been concerned with combating barriers to participation in the arts, and though the majority of our work tends to focus around rural communities and the associated barriers that those community members might have to arts engagement, an inclusive ethos overall is an important value for CAE. However, there is always more that can be done.

Over the last few months, we’ve started to think more about how we can ensure that all of our rural touring events and community cinema screenings are open and accessible to all those who might want to attend them, regardless of age, gender, race, orientation, health or disability. Our audience demographic may not alter through doing this, but we are committed to helping our promoters open the doors of their village halls as wide as possible.

We started off by making some mini inclusivity pledges within our team – small actions we could either do within our roles or the team to try and be more inclusive. Here are some we came up with:

Our Mini Inclusivity Pledges

Natalie: I pledge to consider accessibility of my PowerPoint Presentations – can the primary points be communicated if you can’t hear clearly? Just having images on the Powerpoint look lovely but are not that accessible if you can’t hear?

Julie: I pledge to tailor my language when making Our Day Out phonecalls to reflect the fact that often they’re not feeling 100% – try a different variation of “How are you?”

 Abbie: I pledge to better prepare for when Julie makes the Our Day Out calls (Abbie’s phone is second in the call queue) and answer in an appropriate manner when the participants call back through.

Sophie: I pledge to look into what we would need to do/where we would go to if anyone contacted us and needed marketing information in a different format (e.g. large print, text-to-speech)

Karen: I pledge to make sure we are always asking artists both on forms and in person if we can do anything to make their visit easier.

Alice: I pledge to develop accessibility awareness within CAE Screen by including an accessibility statement in the Promoter Handbook.

Zoe: I pledge to make my social media posts as accessible as possible – flyers can’t be read by screen readers so any images I attach should always be supporting rather than necessary.

Jo: I pledge to think more about people coming for meetings in our office – are they okay with stairs? Let’s ask if people have any accessibility requirements before they visit.

At our last Live Performance Promoters Day, we asked our #RuralTouring promoters to think about making their own inclusivity pledges, and they came up with some brilliant ideas ranging from checking their village hall hearing loop still functions and re-painting their disabled parking bay, to making sure all volunteers were dementia-trained and looking into the concept of relaxed performances.

We’ll be doing lots more when it comes to developing our inclusivity, accessibility and diversity over the coming months, including potentially partnering with some influential organisations in this field. So watch this space, and in the meantime why not think about making your own inclusivity pledge?

Pitch Up Libraries

Pitch Up Libraries

We’re very pleased to invite you to the grand finale of our South East Libraries Touring Enquiry funded by Arts Council England – Pitch Up Libraries, on Friday 20th March at Chesham Library. This event is free of charge to attend. To reserve your place click here.

Open to all South East libraries as staff development/training, this free, carefully curated day will enable direct conversations with theatre-makers, arts organisations and venues, as well as other library services across the South East. The event will focus on connecting library teams looking to host work, with theatre makers creating work for libraries.

Pitch Up is an event hosted by Farnham Maltings as part of the South East venue network touring initiative, house. It’s made up of five-minute presentations from theatre-makers who have made work and want to create more work for libraries, and two to five-minute presentations from libraries or other venues about the work they are interested in programming. Get in touch with Julia to find out more about pitching, or about coming along simply as an attendee. There will also be opportunities to meet local arts organisations and venues.

Pitch Up Libraries will also include a Library Service networking session, and a keynote from Sue Williamson, Arts Council England Director of Libraries.

Who can attend?

  • Anyone from a South East library service – with the option to also pitch
  • Theatre-makers creating or looking to create work for libraries
  • Arts venues, rural touring schemes and arts initiatives connected to or looking to connect to their local libraries

Arrival time for anyone from a library is 12 noon, with a free networking lunch from 12-1pm so please make sure to put that arrival time in your diary and let us know of your dietary requirements by end of January. The afternoon of pitching and networking begins at 1.15pm for all other attendees.

We are keen to see attendees from Library Services across the whole of the South East region and so we are very happy to cover your travel costs. Please complete the attached document and include receipts to be reimbursed.

If you’d like to find out more and to see if this event is right for you, or to let us know that you will be coming, please get in touch with Julia.

We would like as many libraries as possible to present a pitch at Pitch Up Libraries. There’s no commitment to take work; it simply helps open conversations. If you’re interested please get in touch with Julia.

The day includes time to hear pitches and time to meet new people and connect through informal conversations.

Rough structure of the day*:

12:00 – Libraries networking lunch (library staff only)

13:00 – arrivals for familiarisation of space (pitchers only)

13:15 – doors open for non-pitching delegates – with refreshments

13:30 – welcome and introduction to all pitchers – Keynote Speaker Sue Williamson, Arts Council England Director, Libraries

13:45 – pitching session one

14:20 – venue pitches session one

14:30 – break for refreshments and conversations

15:15 – pitching session two

15:50 – venue pitches session two

16:00 – break for refreshments and conversations

17:00 – closing comments

*This could be subject to change

 

Venue and accessibility

This event will be hosted at Chesham Library, Chesham. It’s a 3-minute walk from Chesham Tube Station at the end of the Metropolitan Line.

The space is wheelchair accessible. All pitches will be amplified and live-captioned by Stagetext. This event will not be interpreted by a BSL interpreter.

 

If you require additional support or have any additional access requirements, including if you require a Personal Assistant or carer ticket, or BSL interpreter, please let us know by emailing Laura Woodward with as much notice as possible. We will do our best to accommodate your needs but will let you know either way.

Refreshments will be provided, but please bring your own reusable cup for tea and coffee.

More information about the venue.

Questions: If you have any questions about Pitch Up, including any accessibility requirements you might have, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Laura from the Farnham Maltings / house team.

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Touring Arts To South East Libraries Video: Programming a Touring Arts Offer

New Video!

We’re pleased to be sharing with you the new video in our series about Libraries Touring.

Dayna White, Programme Development Officer at Slough Curve talks us through how she goes about programming work for Slough Libraries, with audience development at the core of their programme.

As a Library Service, programming your arts offer can be a challenge to balance – whether you’re trying to reach new audiences to engage with your existing offer, give exciting fresh events to your existing audiences, or both, it is important to bear in mind if the arts events are pitched correctly – and that the library space is providing stimulating events of excellence and high quality, just as a traditional arts venue would.

There are some key things to think about:

Why are you putting on an arts event? Is it to reach new audiences? Or is it to challenge your existing audiences? Will this work reach that goal, and how do you know?

How do you know what these audiences are interested in seeing? Have you carried out a survey or spoken to people?

It is helpful to consider not just what audiences want to see, but why they would come along to see it at your library – is it convenient for them? Think about timing, transport and of course ticket prices.

Ticketing can be tricky to navigate – you want to make sure you are reflecting the quality and professionalism of the work you’re programming, but you also want to ensure it is financially accessible for audiences. One option is to set the general ticket price to show the high standard of work but maintain inclusivity by offering discounted tickets for certain groups.

A really important area to consider is quality measures: even if an audience member doesn’t relate to a piece, it’s key they can always recognise the high standard of the work they’re viewing.

Some examples of how to ensure quality when selecting work for libraries are:

  • Paying careful attention to how the touring company’s marketing looks, both in text and visual form
  • Looking at recommendations and reviews from people you trust
  • Going to see work or asking the artists for video footage
  • Checking who the artists are funded by
  • Researching what kind of work have they done before and whether they have experience with the audience you’re targeting

Take a look at the video here or by clicking the image below and let us know what you think. How does your library service go about programming a touring arts offer?

Thumbnail Dayna White

Survey

There is still time to complete and share the surveys below. They will close this Friday 13th at midday so get your final responses in now if you’d like to contribute to our enquiry!

Final Libraries Button  Final Artists Button Actual

 

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Touring Arts To South East Libraries Video: Communicating about the Arts

Members of the team at The Library Presents have kindly shared with us their experiences of delivering their Cambridgeshire-based libraries touring project, with advice on communicating about the arts in our latest video.

Joanne Gray, manager of The Library Presents, alongside project coordinators Katherine Roberts and Nathan Jones, share some valuable tips for writing funding applications that highlight your service’s existing work in providing arts and culture in your libraries.

They also discuss their approach to artist liaison, and ways to communicate with your team and library users about upcoming arts events.

Let us know your thoughts on ‘communicating about the arts’ as a library service. There are many approaches to this and we are keen to hear how your library service works with artists and shouts about the incredible things they’re doing with arts touring!

The next video will be available on December 9th and will explore quality and audience accessibility.

View the latest video here or click the image below.

Joanne Gray thumbnail

If you haven’t already, please complete and share the surveys below.

Final Libraries Button  Final Artists Button Actual

An Important Date for your Diary

A reminder for our South East Libraries Touring Enquiry: Please keep Friday 20th March available in your diary for the upcoming Pitch Up Libraries event – open to all South East libraries as CPD, to attend a carefully curated day enabling direct conversations with artists, arts partners and other library services about future possibilities for enhancing your library service’s cultural offer.

Pitch Up Libraries will include a Library Service networking session, a key note from Sue Williamson, Arts Council England Director of Libraries, presentations from artists who want to take their work to libraries, and opportunities to meet local arts partners.

The event will be available to book from 29th November so watch out for the link we will be sharing.

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Touring Arts To South East Libraries Video: Perceptions of the Library

We are excited to share with you the next video learning resource of our Libraries Touring series.

In our newest video on our YouTube channel Krystal Vittles, Head of Service Delivery at Suffolk Libraries,  discusses ways to develop audiences’ perceptions of libraries. She tells us how Suffolk Libraries have employed certain methods relating to marketing and branding to help them overcome perceptions, and be seen as a legitimate venue for great arts.

We welcome your comments and questions to feed into our enquiry. The next video will be available on November 25th and will focus on communicating about the arts as a library.

View the video here or click the image below.

Krystal Vittles thumbnail

If you haven’t already, please complete and share out surveys below.

Final Libraries Button  Final Artists Button Actual

An Important Date for your Diary

A reminder for our South East Libraries Touring Enquiry: Please keep Friday 20th March available in your diary for the upcoming Pitch Up Libraries event – open to all South East libraries as CPD, to attend a carefully curated day enabling direct conversations with artists, arts partners and other library services about future possibilities for enhancing your library service’s cultural offer.

Pitch Up Libraries will include a Library Service networking session, a key note from Sue Williamson, Arts Council England Director of Libraries, presentations from artists who want to take their work to libraries, and opportunities to meet local arts partners.

The event will be available from 29th November so watch out for the link we will be sharing.

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Touring Arts To South East Libraries Video: Partnering with Arts Organisations

Our enquiry has enabled us to speak with many people experienced in touring arts to libraries. We want to share our findings with libraries across the south east.

Here is the first of our video series for libraries who are looking into broadening their arts and cultural offer, or looking into ways to do it a little bit differently.

The thumbnail below takes you to the video on our YouTube channel, where Lyndsey Wilson from Spot On Lancashire will talk to you about how rural touring schemes can support libraries with arts events, and how a partnership might work. This video is about 18 minutes and is an ideal resource to focus a team meeting around.

We welcome your comments and questions to feed into our enquiry. The next video will be available in November and will provide information about challenging the perceptions of libraries to promote engagement with arts in library spaces.

View the video here or click the image below.

Lyndsey Wilson thumbnail

If you haven’t already, please complete and share out surveys below.

Final Libraries Button  Final Artists Button Actual

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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 this artists survey  (for artists!) or libraries survey (for libraries!) 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.

Final Libraries Button  Final Artists Button Actual

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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The Inn Crowd Project Welcomes Its First BSL-Interpreted Show

As well as our rural touring live performance scheme, we run a number of other projects focused at supporting different communities across East Anglia to have access to fantastic live performances. One of these is the Inn Crowd project – which helps rural pub landlords put on live spoken-word style shows in the comfort of their pub, helping them to bring in more customers, offer something different for their regulars, and reinforce the pub as a vibrant, central part of rural community life.

We’ve been heading up this project in East Anglia for the last few years (it is also run in Kent and Sussex by Applause Rural Touring), with support from Pub Is The Hub, the National Centre for Writing, and funding from Arts Council England. We’ve had some amazing writers, poets and performers on the project, and have commissioned new work to be created specifically for pubs audiences through our Writers in Residence programme.

One such commission was a new show by acclaimed stand-up poet Luke Wright. Luke has previously toured through Inn Crowd with a show called Down the Pub with Luke Wright, a selection of his poems specially chosen for pub audiences, which was a huge hit last season. He received our ‘Writers in Residence’ funding back in 2018, staying at various rural pubs across East Anglia gathering stories and inspiration to influence a new show. Since then, he has been touring the country with his new 5-star show Poet LaureateThe Guardian has described the poems in this show as “rumbling with rage, passion and humour. They are also peppered with brilliantly smart observations”, noting that audiences “will leave his show brimming with energy, heart pounding and brain whirring.” He has another performance this weekend, and whilst we look forward to all our Inn Crowd shows, this will be a show with a difference…

Luke’s performance of Poet Laureate at The Banham Barrel pub this Sunday 14th April at 8pm will be the first ever Inn Crowd show to be accompanied by BSL interpretation. The Banham Barrel, run by father-daughter duo Brian and Niamh McAllister, is a new pub on our Inn Crowd circuit, and we’re delighted to welcome them on board. This will be their very first show with us but they are no stranger to offering live entertainment to their customers, hosting lots of music events in the ‘Back Room’, an amazing space they describe as their ‘not-so-secret’ gig venue. They have previously shown a fantastic commitment to opening up their space to the D/deaf community, holding sign-language cafes and other events, and it was their idea to bring in BSL communication for their first Inn Crowd show. As Creative Arts East’s main mission not just through the Inn Crowd project but as a charity in general is to open up the arts to audiences who might face barriers to accessibility, it was a no-brainer for us to make this happen and fund them to bring in an interpreter.

The approach The Banham Barrel are taking to reach out to people in the D/deaf community has come in part from the landlord’s daughter Niamh’s own experiences with hearing problems, which started last year. After realising she was relying heavily on lip-reading, she took a hearing test and was told she needed to wear a hearing aid at the age of 20. This then spurred The Barrel on to hold BSL sign language lessons for the village community. You can find out more about Niamh and the Banham Barrel’s outreach work with the deaf community here in this recent EDP article and BBC Look East coverage.

Luke Wright’s Poet Laureate is on at The Banham Barrel on Sunday 14th April, at 8pm. The show is completely free – no booking required. For more information on the show, check out our website here.

P.s. Our Communications & Content Officer Zoe went along to The Banham Barrel yesterday, to chat to Landlord Brian and his daughter Niamh, as well as reporter Shaun Peel of BBC Look East. We’re hoping to see a little piece about the show on this weekend’s news – so keep your eyes peeled! 

 

Five Minutes With… Our New Finance Manager!

What’s new with the CAE team? Well, we’ve had some staffing changes over the last couple of months! Our previous Finance Manager Sheila had been with us for four years, but moved on to pastures new at the end of November, and so for the last few months we’ve been welcoming a new recruit into the fold – Jo!

Jo has taken over the position of Finance Manager, and her wealth of experience is sure to be a great asset to Creative Arts East. We’ve been getting to know her over the last few months, and hope she’ll enjoy being part of our little CAE family.

Our Communications and Content Assistant Zoe grabbed five minutes with her to learn more…

Can you tell us a bit about your role before you joined the team?

I have had a varied career, working in Banking, Mortgages, the NHS, Social Services and the Education sector. I have also been self-employed. Always in Finance but never in the Arts before. I am enjoying that and working part time.

Do you have an interest in the arts personally? If so, what kind of things do you like?

I am a prolific reader, I like the theatre, ballet, music (classical and modern) and film. I am looking forward to enjoying these things a great deal more now that I have more time on my hands.

What was your dream job as a child and why?

I wanted to do everything at one time or another. I think I settled on being a hairdressing doctor  – so I could make people better while giving them a perm!!

If you could switch jobs with someone in the team, based on your impressions so far, who would it be?

Mmmm. That’s difficult because I love Finance so much. Probably Karen/Elly or Lea as they get out and about so much although it keeps them all far too busy.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role, and in working for Creative Arts East?

Bringing my experience to help the charity achieve value for money and maximising income. But I am also looking forward to working with this team of dedicated people who work so hard to bring art to the area.

Well, there you have it! We hope you’ve enjoyed discovering more about our newest team member, Finance Manager Jo!

If you fancy working with us here at Creative Arts East, helping to bring fantastic arts experiences to rural and culturally under-served communities in the East, why not check out our latest job opportunity? The new post of Touring Development Officer has opened up – check it out here!

Village Halls Week: A Rural Touring Legacy Story

From 22nd to 28th January, we’re celebrating Village Halls Week! This is an initiative run by ACRE (Action for Communities in Rural England) to acknowledge village halls and other community buildings which exist at the heart of England’s rural communities. The whole of the NRTF (National Rural Touring Forum, of which we are a member) have been getting involved.

For us here at Creative Arts East, village halls are particularly important as they make up such a large part of our rural touring network and community cinema scheme. We work with over 100 different voluntary promoting groups each year, many of whom sit on village hall committees and host fantastic arts and cultural events in village halls and community centres. These events are such a vital part of the community, and facilitating rural access to some truly wonderful film screenings and live performances is something we’re incredibly passionate about.

Earlier this month, we were contacted by one of our lovely voluntary promoters, Jane Leitch from Freckenham Village Hall. She sent us an article written by her 16 year old nephew Rowan, all about his experience watching Farnham Maltings’ show Brilliance in Freckenham last November. We absolutely loved reading it, and the whole family was happy for it to be shared. We think it really emphasises the impact of rural touring, and how the legacy of going to a local village hall to see a fantastic professional theatre show really is a family affair.

My name is Rowan Black I’ve been attending performances at Freckenham village hall for more than a decade now. And from a young age have been spell bound by the unique art of the theatre especially the impact of performances in such an intimate performance space. This interest has blossomed into a passion for drama and I am now studying A level drama.

Brilliance was nothing short of brilliant. With well thought out minimalistic staging brought alive by seeing it in its intended setting (a village hall).The live music which was played in transitions through out the performance was incredibly effective in creating and heightening the emotions presented with in the performance and being able to see the musicians made myself as an audience member feel like I was part of the story.  Other notable techniques used was the outstanding setting of the seen involved a sack of soil and some toy buildings which though simplistic was extremely efficient at engagingly setting the story. The use of lighting was also very useful for presenting the day and night cycle. The highly charged final scenes had a the audience on the edge of their seats

In short an outstanding performance and I loved every second of it.

(Rowan Black, aged 16)

 

Freckenham Village Hall has been a member of our scheme since 2001, and over this time Jane has programmed a wide variety of performances for her local community, both through CAE and independently. Her nephew Rowan has been going to these events from a young age, and some of his first experiences of live theatre have been Creative Arts East-support rural touring shows. Jane works so hard to give back to her community, and Rowan’s review of Brilliance is a testament to her incredible efforts, as well as to the power of great theatre.

If this has inspired you to support your local village hall or community hub, check out our website to see what’s happening near you!