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 Laureate. The 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!