Insights from the Discover Programme: March 2021

Resources

Supporting new voices in Outdoor Arts

Building on the success of the Discover bursary programme in 2019, this year the programme was reformatted to take place as an accessible online programme, delivered by Without Walls in association with The Arches Worcester Festivals at Severn Arts.

The Discover Programme is for artists, directors, producers, designers and anybody else new to creating work in the outdoor arts sector. Through a unique series of group sessions with industry practitioners, Discover offers a broad insight into, and understanding of, what working in outdoor arts means. A key aim of this programme is to increase the representation of those who are currently underrepresented across the sector, particularly people who are Black, Asian, ethnically diverse and people who are Deaf or disabled.

Following a recent open call that attracted over 80 applicants, the programme supported 16 successful participants to attend a series of guided sessions with industry practitioners taking place across four online sessions in March 2021.

Image: PUSH by Company Chameleon

Screenshot of a zoom video call, with sixteen people smiling.

“It was amazing to be part of the cohort, meet other artists who are doing similar work across the UK.” – Michaela Cisarikova, Discover 2021 Participant

“So many inspirational speakers and was facilitated in a very professional way, all the while putting everyone at ease to be able ask questions as they came up.” – Gina Chan Martinez

 

Insights and Resources

Session One - Meet the Artists

In the first session, participants had the opportunity to meet artists and creatives who have previously designed and toured work in the outdoor sector. They shared their experiences of creating, developing and presenting outdoor work, along with discussing how working outdoors has benefitted their practice and what they’ve learned as an artist from doing so.

Speakers
Subathra Subramaniam, Artistic Director & Joint CEO, Akademi
Adam Carver, Creative Producer & Theatre Maker (Fantabulosa, PALAVER! and more)
Alison Holder, Independent Producer (Talawa, Helen Chadwick Song Theatre and others)
Andrew Kim, Artistic Director, Thingumajig Theatre

Insights
Explore the work of Akademi, Adam Carver, Talawa and Thingumajig.

“This was very inspiring to hear other artists honesty and stories from their experience. Very insightful and if it was not for this session I would not be able to find out and learn about the different experiences artists might have within the industry. Surprisingly the most inspiring session where I learnt the most.” – Michaela Cisarikova

Session Two - Meet the Producers

Participants were offered insight and top tips from the experiences of four Producers who have worked across the Outdoor Arts sector. Speakers delved into their experiences of producing Outdoor Arts, with a focus on working with communities, and creating a shared ethos with artists.

Closing the session, Anthony Mission from Company Chameleon shared a film of their piece PUSH, offering participants an insight into the work of outdoor arts performance in action.

Speakers
Phil Hargreaves, Independent Producer / The Lead Bradford (chair)
Amaya Dent, Independent Producer
Alison King, Producer, Turtle Key Arts
Lou Lomas, Independent Producer

“Great session, interesting different perspectives again which is so helpful, and again to hear the challenges, fails!  My best take away from here was what is the measure of your success, i loved this, and it has really stayed with me.” – Louise Brown

“Push, it was a lovely fluid piece and so nice to watch some outdoor dance/art in the middle of a pandemic and be reminded that this kind of work does actually exisit and will again!” – Gina Chan Martinez

Session Three - Meet the Festivals

Participants met professionals from outdoor arts festivals, and were offered in insight into the work of programming and organising a large scale festival. Chaired by David Edmunds, the session started with an overview of the varying experiences of the different festivals present, and opened with the question ‘What do you look for when programming work?’

Closing the session, each of the speakers offered an example of their experiences with a huge success and also a failure that they have learned from; offering participants an insight into the work of programmers in practice.

Speakers
David Edmunds, Festival Director, The Arches Festival at Severn Arts (Chair)
Ellie Harris, Executive Producer, GDIF
Charlotte Bowen, Founder & Director, The Culture House
Roxy Robinson, Creative Director, From the Fields

Insights
Charlotte Bowen advised using the Audience Agency to best understand who your local audiences are and then you can work out what they want, what is important to them.

Ellie Harris offered an insightful thought about how space defines events, and how programming outdoor arts is about finding a match with the needs of the space and the art.

Roxy Robinson suggested for new artists to attend pitching and networking sessions, find out what other new work is being created and meet the people who can programme you.

“This is probably the area I think I was most unfamiliar with re: programming events/festivals – so great to get an overview. Planted some seeds into how I could possibly transfer my services / genre of work & what I could offer in these particular settings – certainly got the creative juices flowing a bit more.” – Gina Chan Martinez

Session Four - Meet the Strategic Organisations

Participants gained an insight into key strategic organisations across UK Outdoor Arts. Danielle Corbishley introduced 101 Creation Space as a place of space, support, and expertise for artists. Paschale Straiton then offered an insight into NASA UK, a collection of people who make and produce outdoor arts from a range of artistic backgrounds. Clive Lyttle introduced Certain Blacks, and their work supporting artists over long-term development. Closing the session, Angus Mackechnie spoke about Outdoor Arts UK, and the professionalising of the sector, and highlighted a range of open opportunities and resources.

Artist Lorna Rees, Artistic Director of Gobbledegook joined to present a snapshot of her work: Cloudscapes. First, she introduced her practice and how she developed this piece, then the participants experienced an online adaptation of her touring work.

Speakers
Anaïs Biaux, Creative Development & Partnerships Manager, XTRAX (Chair)
Danielle Corbishley, Head of 101 Creation Space and Outdoor Programmes
Angus Mackechnie, Executive Director, Outdoor Arts UK
Paschale Straiton, Artistic Director, Red Herring Productions & NASA Steering Committee
Clive Lyttle, Artistic Director, Certain Blacks

Resources
Get to know 101 Creation Space’s work, on 101’s YouTube Channel
Watch the recording of 101 & NASA Podcast Conversation with Paschale Straiton
Watch recent online webinar 101 & Without Walls Digital & the Outdoors Symposium
Keep an eye out for future events of NASA UK’s For the Love of It

Explore Art Council England’s Let’s Create Strategy
Get to know Certain Black‘s work

For regular outdoor arts news, sign up newsletters from Outdoor Arts UK, XTRAX and Without Walls
Discover more resources on Outdoor Arts UK’s YouTube
Explore Audience Agency’s Report

“Inspiring, boundary pushing, introduced me to NASA.  All of the speakers were really welcoming, and supportive. It feels like a strong, playful community with a lot of support organisations and information to get involved in. I was also interested in the community engagement aspect that was talked about.” – Discover Programme Participant

“I was very surprised by the experience and originality of the Cloudscapes. I do not think I would normally choose to see this kind of performance and I was surprised how powerful and engaging it was – very creative and inspiring in a different way for me.” – Michaela Cisarikova

2021 Participants

This year’s participants include a wide range of artists, producers and directors working across various art forms, scale and genres:

  • Aoi Nakamura – Artistic Dir., AOE
  • Bryony Farrant-Davis – Creative Engagement & Community Producer
  • Natalie Verhaegen –  Artistic Dir., Loose End Physical Theatre
  • Ella Mesma – Artistic Dir,, Ella Mesma Company
  • Gina Chan Martinez – Mass movement choreographer + live-action consultant
  • Mahandra Patel – Founder, teacher & performer, Kadence Music
  • Olivia Altaras – Designer, Maker & Community Artist
  • Sonia Sabri – Artistic Dir., Sonia Sabri Company
  • Lauren Banks – Young Peoples Producer, Contact
  • Louise Brown – Co-Artistic Dir., Velcro Collective
  • Michaela Cisarikova – Choreographer & teacher, Michaela Cisarikova Dance  Company
  • Nadia Iftkhar – Artistic Dir. & CEO, Company of Others
  • Sushmita Pati – Artistic Dir., / Producer, Kala the Arts
  • Symoné S – Director / Performer, Fierce Flow
  • Talita Moffatt – Producer, Trade Arts
  • Urja Thakore – Artistic Dir., Pagrav Dance