We all know the importance of staying connected at the moment – but endless Zoom calls alone don’t give you the full experience of real connection and community.
So, a few weeks ago, we launched a callout to artists and makers to come up with ideas that could connect individuals and communities across Gloucestershire in this time of crisis.
From the applications we received, we chose 8 talented artists who have each designed a project which will encourage new and uplifting ways for people to:
feel part of a community
express themselves artistically
make their voices heard – especially people who feel cut off or excluded
Check out the full set of projects below. Anyone can join in with these, and we especially hope that they will help those who feel the most isolated. We’d love you to join us and take part – full details on how to get involved coming soon!
Daniella’s #creativeconnection is to create a collaborative short film during this challenging time of isolation.
Do you remember as a child playing a game where everyone sits in a circle and one member would start the story and it would carry on to the next person who would take the story in whatever direction they felt like? This project applies the same process to film-making, initially in collaboration with other members of the Wilson Art Collective, then eventually extended to the wider Gloucestershire community.
Email Daniella at firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved, and find the Next Act channel on Youtube to follow progress so far!
About the artist
Danielle’s art-work is primarily based around mental health awareness – creating work that encourages discussion around mental health illnesses such as anxiety, depression and children with problematic upbringings. One of her main goals in life is to be a role model to other people with disabilities and encourage them with their aspirations.
Tolmeia wants to create a collection of animated GIF stickers which focus on positive solutions to the coronavirus crisis and give those in Gloucestershire a way to spread awareness and inspire others to champion different actions.
Some of the themes these animated stickers could cover include:
Looking out for each other
Reaching out to vulnerable people
Adaptation and processing grief/changes in lifestyle
Reflecting on what’s important
Ideas for mutual aid
Inspiring people to stay connected with communities even after COVID-19
Health advice (washing hands, staying indoors etc)
Symbols of hope (rainbows etc)
About the artist
Tolmeia is a verified GIPHY artist and illustrator. Her collection of animated stickers has been viewed over 7 billion times. She has worked with campaign groups and organisations such as Extinction Rebellion, Fashion Revolution and Lonely Whale, all of which have had great success with the launch of their collaborative sticker collections.
Her activism work is based both offline and online – she uses Instagram to discuss environmental issues as well as sustainable fashion. Her offline work is rooted in direct-action where she is an activist and coordinator for Extinction Rebellion, both locally in Cheltenham and internationally.
Hello lovely Strike A Light friends – hope you’re all OK. We miss seeing you! 😭
But while lockdown is in effect, we still want to find ways to share in amazing experiences with you. So here’s a quick selection of a few fantastic, free shows that you can enjoy from home this week:
In Loco Parentis Date: Thurs 9 April (tomorrow!) Location: streaming online – Pavillion Dance South West Tickets: free! (Or optional donation) Age recommendation: 14+
We’ve partnered with our friends at Pavillion Dance South West (PDSW) to try out sharing dance performances online. This one is a serious, hard-hitting piece: a powerfully brutal and honest examination of the care system. In Loco Parentis explores what it’s like to grow up in care. What happens to young people when their parents can’t look after them?
Jane Eyre Date: 9-16 April Location: streaming online – National Theatre Tickets: free!
Every Thursday, the National Theatre are making full shows available to watch online for free, for a limited time. This coming week is Jane Eyre – a co-production with Bristol Old Vic, which we loved when we saw it in Bristol (back when things like that were allowed!)
Tweedy’s Lost and Found Date: Wednesdays at noon (now!) Location: streaming online – The Barn, Cirencester Tickets: free!
Our friends at The Barn, Cirencester, have arranged a weekly show, live online, with Tweedy the Clown. Every week, he’ll be entertaining children with his new Tweedy’s Lost & Found series as part of the Behind The Barn Door online broadcast.
Since it first became apparent that the UK was not going to escape the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve felt the need to say…something about it, and about the relationship between culture and crisis.
I guess we’re all – everybody – trying to orientate ourselves right now and saying stuff out loud can be part of how we do that.
(It’s really hard to know what to say at the moment, don’t you find?)
So, a couple of us started putting some thoughts down. This was a week or two back – before the full lockdown, before Parliament’s new emergency legislation, before Arts Council’s funding announcements or any of the more drastic escalations of the past few days.
Maybe let’s call this an exercise in thinking out loud – which we’re sharing with you now after quite a long delay because, like lots of people, we’ve spent most of the past week trying to put various emergency measures and responses in place.
Here goes, though:
Sarah (Co-Artistic Director)
Even before all this happened and threw everything up in the air, I had been thinking again about culture and its position in our society.
In reading Etty Hillesum’s extraordinary writing, An Interrupted Life (totally recommended reading), I contemplated the role of culture in ways I hadn’t before.
I started to reconsider how culture – especially in times of absolute crisis – has an ability to lift you from your present and take you to a place that almost nothing else can.
We are in a crisis and we are all losing many freedoms that we usually take for granted.
In that context, watching recent social media footage of people in Italy singing from their balconies, music soaring into the air, giving solace and importantly a feeling of “we are in this together” has really chimed with me.
When locked away, when held in, when on literal lockdown, the role of culture and beauty can transcend social divisions and offers a place of togetherness for us all.
We have held emergency meetings over the past week at Strike A Light (via video call!), as will many thousands of organisations, and asked ourselves questions like:
What do we do?
What can we do?
What is our role?
What is happening?!
I am so heartened by groups of people self-organising: supporting communities, delivering food.
So how does this work in the arts?
I’d love to hear people’s responses and how we might work together. We know that culture and beauty in these difficult times become more necessary not less.
How can we ensure that people who are lonely, isolated and scared are still able to turn to culture and be uplifted?
Should we be working out how to share experiences by post, phone or podcast?
Should we invest in live streaming?
Should we commission a travelling show that can play to outdoor spaces that people can watch from a distance?
How can we immediately support artists? I know many have, overnight, lost their livelihoods…
I don’t have the answers but I know that as things become tighter and more constricted that we will be turning towards and yearning for some cultural transportation – and I’d like to think that as artists and organisations we are able to respond to that.
As an organisation all about making cultural change in a geographical area, putting on live events, bringing people together in physical spaces to share in amazing experiences, it would be easy to think that this new world of social isolation/distancing just entirely pulls the rug out from under us.
How can we do anything to create a shared cultural experience when people aren’t even allowed to be in the same room?
We’re determined to come up with creative ways to keep doing what we do and bringing you, our audience, together (even if our ‘bread and butter’ of in-person events is off the table).
Why is this about to get more important?
This isolation is going to feel…weird. And, sure, people are happy to joke about binge-watching their way through the entire back-catalogue of Netflix but just try it for more than a few days in a row and see how quickly you start feeling the lack of genuine human interaction. Humankind does not live on boxsets alone.
When you’re in the wild west – at the frontier, finding your way through the uncertain nights in a hostile landscape, navigating a world where the rules aren’t yet set – you sit around the campfire and tell stories to each other.
Every time any community has started out on a new rhythm and structure of life, you’ll find the same thing happening: people make stories to tell each other. Because we need that to navigate, explain and pass on the situation in which we find ourselves. And it’s only heightened when that new time is a time of crisis.
We’re in a wild west all of our own now. We need to tell stories to each other, even if we can’t sit around a campfire.
Maybe it’s possible to identify and bottle some of those other ingredients that make arts and cultural events so vital and find other ways to share it with people, even when we can’t all be in the same room together. We’re going to try.
Hi everyone, my name is Philippa and I am an Associate Producer for Strike A Light.
I am currently working on a project called ‘co-creating change‘ which is an initiative to encourage everyone to work together to create something special for their communities.
Gloucester has a thriving African and Caribbean community and as a member, I feel that there is a lot of talent that can be shared in and around Gloucester and beyond.
Lately, I have been working with a number of people to create a team of ‘community promoters.’ So, what is a community promoter? Well, they are locals who are passionate about Gloucester and its arts scene and they would like to see more people, access, create, participate in, produce and be a part of a thriving arts scene in Gloucester. The group of community promoters I’ve been working with promote events within the African and Caribbean community.
The group have a couple of shows planned for the next few months. The first is a family variety show, which will take place in May. This night promises to be a treat! It will include local acts as well as one or two guests from outside of town. If you would like to be involved, let the team know – the more, the merrier!
Secondly, the group is planning a performance at this year’s Rooftop Festival. Once again, the idea is to showcase local talent, and bring a variety of different artists and genres together: music, singers, dance, fashion and more.
Keep an eye out for more performances during the year – and why not get involved yourself as well? We’re always happy to hear from people who’d be interested in helping us co-create some change!
At least, that’s what Google’s autocomplete will tell you if you start typing in ‘Gloucester is…’
In a 2016 survey, students at the University of Gloucestershire were asked to name their single favourite thing about the city. The overwhelmingly top answer, the runaway leader by a mile, was…’NOTHING’.
(And their second favourite thing was that Gloucester had ‘good transport links’ – i.e. ‘ways to get out of here to somewhere else’… 😬)
Gloucester has been officially declared a ‘cultural cold spot’ – and, if you walk through the city centre after about 6pm, you might be inclined to agree with that: the high street looks almost deserted pretty much every weeknight.
Act 2. Absolutely incredible, brilliant, magical, one-of-a-kind things are happening in Gloucester
Last year, I went to the All Nations Community Centre for the first time.
Round the back of an industrial estate car park, tucked away off the side of a dual carriageway, next to the railway line, with no signs or even lights to give you any hints of life, I walked up to possibly the most unassuming building you can imagine. If my phone map hadn’t been insistent that I was in the right place, I would’ve turned around and left, because surely nothing was happening here.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The instant you walked in, it was just…awesome. Electric. Alive. Full of the buzz of conversation and the smell of curry. There’s a game of dominoes going on in one corner, people stood eating freshly-cooked dinner off paper plates in another, friends greeting each other at the door or bustling to get drinks at the bar – and in the middle of it all, a little troupe of dancers going through some pretty advanced-looking warmup moves?!
I was there, along with maybe 80 other people, for a ‘Scratch Night‘ – a chance to see artists/actors/dancers/performers honing their work before it’s put on full, final, public release. After some beer and curry, we all went through from the buzzing bar to the dark main hall. I took my seat, not entirely sure what to expect… and then I got to watch some literally jaw-droppingly brilliant dance.
These were some of the country’s best contemporary performers and choreographers, who’d travelled up from London, from all over the place in fact, to come and do a 20-minute bit in this so-called ‘cultural cold spot’. And it was spectacular. You know when you can feel an atmosphere in a room? Everyone in that room was enthralled by what we were seeing. You didn’t want it to end!
Of course, it had to at some point. And, when it did, the whole room burst into cheering applause, up on their feet.
And then? Then EVERYONE danced.
(That is actual footage from that Scratch Night. It is the best GIF on the entire internet. It never, ever fails to make me smile.)
The whole night is one of my favourite memories of all time.
In fact, several of my all-time favourite memories have come through my time at Strike A Light – and I’ve only worked here for 1 year out of my 36 on the planet so far!
There was the thumping party on the car park roof, with MCs rapping to the backing of a full-on live orchestra (?!) as the sun went down…
There was the gentle, quiet magic of ‘Man on the Moon‘ – listening, rapt, to Keisha Thompson weave a fragile, funny, sad story in achingly gorgeous sentences. There was the fascinating oddness of hearing your own small talk played back to you through a date-in-headphones at Binaural Dinner Date. There was sitting on tiny plastic primary school chairs with a crew of award-winning beatboxers as they ate KFC and told tales of estate life in the middle of Matson.
And that’s without even mentioning the hilarious and brilliant official team away days. Although that’s not a ticketed event tbf 😂
But, yeah, it turns out Google and those surveyed students are wrong. Turns out, there are all sorts of people doing all sorts of cool things around the place. Turns out, actually, Gloucester is a city of young people organising their own gigs, the home of King’s Jam, of a Cathedral frequently filled with amazing art installations, of Afrobeats nights and breakdance battles, of hidden smartphone audio trails of the city…And all the Strike A Light stuff, too, of course.
There is magic here. You’ve just gotta find it!
Act 3. How to never miss the best nights out in Gloucester again
Well, so, this is what we do all-year-round: run out-of-the-ordinary events in unexpected places all across Gloucester. And we’ve just announced our spring and summer lineup.
Hopefully it comes as no surprise that I’m excited about that (even if I don’t manage to exude anything other than ‘terrible posture’ in this video) 😬😅
So these are the places to be between now and June:
And if you want to make sure you’re first to hear about these things – and other cool, exciting stuff happening in Gloucester – you should basically just hang out with us! You can do that however you prefer: follow us on Insta or Facebook or Twitter, or stick your name down for our emails, or just stop by our office and come and say hi in person if you like.
Happy New Year! In 2020, we want to give you more ‘behind the scenes’ info from Strike A Light. We work with some amazing people and deliver projects which never make it onto our website pages, so “Friday Reads” is going to be a way for us to share more with you.
Each Friday, we’ll post an update from different people in the Strike A Light family, so if you feel like you’ve done enough work for the week then grab a cup of tea and have a read.
Our first post is from Annie, who was an assistant stage manager on Pinocchio, the Christmas show that we produced for the Guildhall for 2019.
“I’m Annie, a graduate of the University of Gloucestershire. Since graduating their Drama course in 2018, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Strike A Light on several occasions. First as an actor in The Snow Queen and I’ve just finished working on Pinocchio as Assistant Stage Manager.
There is a huge amount of work and thought that goes into putting on a show before the audience get to see it. Some of this includes writing a script, designing the set and lighting and making costumes. There was a whole team of people working on Pinocchio, many of whom the audience never get to see. My role in this production was to help on stage and to operate the sound and lights during each show.
We had 3 weeks of rehearsing the show before the public were able to come and see Pinocchio. In this time I was purchasing and making props, making pieces of costume and writing down any information that was important to the running of the show. We then moved into the Guildhall to start the show, I helped to build the stage, put up the stage lights and create the magical world of Pinocchio.
Working on Pinocchio allowed me to gain more knowledge about what is done behind the scenes. In the future, I plan to become a stage manager and this has allowed me to get an inside look at what this involves. I’ve also been able to work alongside other members of the stage management team and learn how to carry out tasks that a stage manager would need to complete
We opened Pinocchio on the 6th of December. Our first few shows were to school children who would come and watch Pinocchio as part of a school trip. We then opened to the public and in total we put on 40 performances! We had children giggling all the way through and everyone was willing to join in with our audience participation.
As a child I was lucky to be able to go and watch theatre productions with my school. One of the first plays I watched was A Midsummer’s Night Dream at primary school. This has always stuck in my mind as a very magical and visual piece of theatre. I think this kickstarted my love for theatre. It’s amazing that young people are able to come and watch theatre in Gloucester through school trips. Without this they may not ever get to go to the theatre. Also not everyone is able to study drama at school but being able to go out and watch a performance still allows children to be able to see what’s out there.
With local businesses and individuals being able to donate money to give children the opportunity to see at least one show this year, Gloucester will be able to keep giving young children the experience that I had as a child. It will introduce them to the magic and excitement of theatre and this will hopefully lead to our young people becoming more involved with the arts.
As part of a stage management team it is amazing to be able to see a show take shape and go from words on a page to the magic of the theatre. I got involved in the arts because it gave me the chance to try something new. I had a local drama group that I was able to join. This group allowed me to make friends, socialise, learn how to sing and dance but most importantly it was somewhere I could have fun and be myself. It gave me an identity and allowed me to express myself through being creative. I was 9 years old when I joined Bristol Amateur Operatic Society (BAOS) since then I have gained a GCSE, A-Level and a Degree in theatre.
Now I can go out into the world and get a job that I love. The skills I have gained and things I have learned mean that I can work both as an actor and behind the scenes creating a show. I have only just started my career and I look forward to what I can achieve in the future.”
You’ve heard people saying the letters GDPR in hushed tones with panic stricken faces.
You know it’s to do with data protection and something important you should be doing by 25 May. You may also have started reading through the ICO website and then decided at the line “standard data protection clauses in the form of template transfer clauses adopted by a supervisory authority…” that maybe you should make a cup of tea and have a sit down first, before filing it away under ‘to do at some point’.
Strike A Light have been undergoing a big organisational development project as we’re now a National Portfolio Organisation with Arts Council England (fanfare, confetti etc) and we’re also in a consortium of arts organisations here in Gloucestershire for a project called Catalyst with Create Gloucestershire. As part of all this we nominated ourselves to explore the world of GDPR and report back for our colleagues.
We’ve been on two different training sessions, we’ve read every single thing we can find online, we’ve watched youtube videos from legal firms, and we’ve condensed it down into an action plan for small arts organisations.
If you’re looking for a place to begin making friends with GDPR then hopefully this will help. Click on the links below to download the documents.
This is the action plan which introduces GDPR and what it means for arts organisations, and includes a checklist
Hope you find this useful and please do read the disclaimer below. Good luck on your GDPR adventure!
Christina Executive Producer, Strike A Light
(image from We Are Lightning, which is coming to Strike A Light on its national tour)
We are sharing these documents in the interests of partnership working, sharing resources and to try and speed up the process for those who have a ‘to do’ list as long as your arm and are drowning in admin (i.e. most of us)
These documents are based on our research as above, presented in good faith, but DO NOT replace formal legal advice and are designed to be used in conjunction with the ICO information and your own research to ensure it is implemented comprehensively for your organisation.
We are still updating these documents for our own organisation as we work through the process and updates are being issued by ICO regularly.
This is also aimed at small arts organisations so information that is less pertinent for that context is only included briefly. If you handle large quantities of sensitive data or work with lots of international partners for example, then you will need more detail for these aspects.
Once you have read through the documents, do use the links included in the action plan for further research to make sure you’re covered.