This is the latest in our series of community collaborations – bringing together Gloucester residents and artistic creativity to tell people’s stories.
Fantastic free dance and creative movement sessions for 2 – 4 year olds (older kids and adults welcome too!) It gets children moving at home while taking the pressure away from parents following the closure of children’s activity groups throughout lockdown.
It was co-created with Gloucester Libraries and Strike A Light during April 2021 and there are 5 pre-recorded sessions, around 15-20 minutes long. The video sessions lead children and their parents through movement explorations based around a story or theme.
In The Jungle
Join Hannah on an adventure through the jungle!
Join Hannah to learn all about different types of weather!
Outside In Nature
Join Hannah to think about all the beautiful things we see outside in nature!
At The Seaside
Join Hannah at the seaside!
Grab a blanket and join Hannah to get ready for bed!
About The Artist
Hannah is a freelance contemporary dance artist based in Gloucester. She is passionate about the power movement has to bring joy and encourage freedom of expression in early years children.
This is the latest in our series of community collaborations – bringing together Gloucester residents and artistic creativity to tell people’s stories.
By the people, for the people
Venture Through The Seasons is an evolving art installation co-created with one of our fantastic creative community activists and some amazing families at The Venture in White City. Developed in a close knit community, the mural made out of cut-out plywood sheets is inspired by the change in seasons and the mental and physical benefits of being in and observing nature particularly during the last year.
The pieces were designed with local families in a series of Zoom workshops during lockdown and consisted of four stages which were added to The Venture Building in June.
About the artist
Luna Lotus (AKA Ella Daniel-Lowe) is an emerging visual artist, designer and studio resident at Jolt Gloucester. She aims to create accessible artwork with an emotive connection to nature with the goal of encouraging others to embrace nature and its conservation.
This is what they created
See it in person
If you want to see the installation in real life, head over to The Venture any point this summer!
How do we make world-changing art which is relevant to the real world and doesn’t shy away from the issues affecting communities we work with – whilst at the same time ensuringthat we work within the legal restrictions relating to charities and political campaigning?
Earlier this year, we outlined our new approach to our governance: how decisions are made about how Strike A Light is run, and how we could make sure that more voices were heard in this
Like a lot of arts organisations, Strike A Light is a charity and so our board of trustees meet regularly throughout the year to oversee, advise and support the running of the organisation. We want to open up this process and have written a couple of blogs about why we think change is vital for us and across the sector.
In short, we will move the primary focus of our governance activity to workshops rather than board meetings – where artists, communities and industry work alongside board members to directly influence and support Strike A Light’s approach.
We’re making this happen and our first workshop will be taking place on Tuesday 20 July at 1pm – focusing on arts, charities and politics.
Rather than a single, static board who feel they have to drive the strategy and make decisions on every topic, this arrangement provides dynamic support and skills for the governance of Strike A Light.
We’ll be doing a workshop on a different topic every three months and each different workshop will involve quite different groups of people.
There will be a combination of trustees, freelancers, arts professionals, professionals from other industries, community members and artists. The size, make-up and dynamics of each group will change to best reflect the workshop topic.
Workshop attendees can be paid for their time. We know there’s an issue with asking freelancers, artists etc to put in unpaid time. After the workshop you can invoice us for £75 towards your time. Alternatively you can choose to donate your time as a trustee would. You don’t need to tell us which you’re opting for – just send us an invoice afterwards, or don’t.
There’s flexibility to the time commitment. You might attend future workshops too if you feel you can contribute to several topics, but equally you might just attend the one workshop that’s your bag.
Workshop formats can vary to suit attendees and topic e.g. we can do one small group discussion or a structured activity with breakout sessions etc.
Options for digital or hybrid meetings give much greater opportunities to work with people from across the country or even internationally. We’re planning this first workshop on zoom. If you’re local to Gloucester and would prefer to meet in person for a chat on the topic or would prefer a one to one phone call we can do that too.
We hope theses sessions will also give people an opportunity to find out more about how the Strike A Light board works, meet trustees and demystify the governance process.
It’s a prison and young offender institution (YOI) in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, for women aged 18 and over.
Around 400 women are imprisoned here, including the mother and baby unit for women with children under 18 months old.
This is Megan
Megan Baxter (they/them) is a writer and performer living in Gloucester. They graduated from Bath Spa University in 2020 with a BA in Creative Writing and are currently studying for an MA in Writing for Young People.
Megan wanted to open a dialogue with people incarcerated in Gloucestershire.
Read an extract from Megan’s initial idea
I have spent a lot of time over the past nine months interrogating my relationship societally and personally to harm, punishment and justice; listening to abolitionist thinkers and transformative justice practitioners; reading about the exacerbated effects of COVID-19 on UK prison populations.
Right now, all of us are lonely, disconnected and unsure of what the world will look like post-Coronavirus, but these concerns are even more urgent and devastating for people serving sentences in prison who have had what little face-to-face contact they can have with the outside stolen by the virus.
I want to put together a crowdsourced poem written with people incarcerated in Gloucestershire, focusing particularly on how COVID has affected their quality of life in prison.
My hope for this project is that it will amplify the voices of incarcerated people and let them know that care and respect for them and their voices exist in the community
This is the story they set out to tell together
Prompted by the effects of COVID-19 on prison populations, Megan wanted to ask this question:
This is what they made
Megan wrote to women in HMP Eastwood Park, inviting them to capture their experiences, feelings and ideas in poems.
The words Megan received back were then read aloud by spoken word artists, with different segments edited together into one collective poem.
The result is ‘Words In My Head’ – a short video sharing something of the experience from inside HMP Eastwood Park during lockdown.
I’m Aimée Lewis and I live in Cheltenham but went to university in Gloucester and aim to keep working in the city. I want to be part of the huge cultural changes in the city that aim to make an impact in the surrounding communities.
What were you doing before joining Strike A Light?
I was fresh out of finishing a film degree at University and working in a coffee shop, striving for something more creative.
In March 2019, Gloucester Culture Trust launched the Creative Leadership Trainee Programme. I was accepted on to the programme and began working for Gloucestershire Libraries as a Cultural Leadership Trainee. My role allowed me to experiment and challenge new ideas for arts and culture in libraries, bringing new ways of approaching projects and events for communities. Then I was offered the chance to do part of that role with Strike A Light.
I still can’t believe how lucky I am to have got the experience to work with Strike A Light because I wanted to still stay in Gloucestershire. It was the perfect opportunity to move into for me.
How did you hear about the opportunity and what made you think it sounded interesting?
My mum actually tagged me in a post on Facebook! That’s how I heard about my cultural leadership trainee role. At first I didn’t really understand what it meant because it was a completely new role for myself and the organisations but it was exciting to have a creative job opportunity pop up right on my doorstep at the perfect time for me.
I had no idea that Strike A Light existed before and wasn’t involved in the creative Gloucester community. All I can say is that I was impressed with what I learned, and honoured to have memories of taking part in events and supporting artists for exciting things happening in Gloucester!
Can you remember what your first day was like?
Yes, mostly because I hadn’t met anyone prior from Strike A Light so I really didn’t know what to expect. I remember Jess opening the door to me and making me feel so welcome. I remember the office vibe being so chill and bright. On my first day, Jess talked me through everything and I felt super comfortable to get on with stuff right away, even if I didn’t know what I was really doing at first.
Any particular highlights or lowlights?
So many but I’ll keep them breif!
Front of House
I really enjoyed being chatty and welcoming to audiences. It really helped with my confidence and also being able to watch every performance was a bonus. The time spent with Jess and others on front of house was so fun and there’s a few memories I’ll cherish forever (like that one time I thought a pigeon needed saving so went to pick it up to move it but it totally mugged me off and moved right back)
Producing a show for Jonny Fluffypunk
Working with Jonny and Christina has been such an experience that was really enjoyable but difficult at times because I was in a new environment. I noticed the support that everyone had for each other straight away and it was something I definitely needed at times. It was magical to see the show come to life and to see first hand how those experiences were really enjoyed by children and their families. Even though lockdown ruined live performances, I still got to see how far the show developed and had fun working on the audience facing interactive parts of the project like the workshops plus we got to create a digital copy of the show.
Filming with Barney/Fluxx Films
The time I spent directing some videos for Strike A Light with Barney was awesome. I got to interview audience members and really understand their experiences with the events that we put on. It was great to be a part of putting it together into a video to shout about what Strike A Light do best.
What a downer!! Working from my bedroom all day wasn’t great. I quickly noticed that not being in the office with people being easily able to turn around and ask for help was hard. I got a little bit more of responsibility with producing Jon’s show in lockdown so the pressure of being stuck inside along with it wasn’t the best. However, I’m proud of myself that I stuck it through and it was really useful to have those 1:1 conversations with the team about it all in the end.
Was the year how you expected it to be?
I didn’t know what to expect at first because when I applied for my trainee position it was focussed around libraries and Strike A Light was a sort of extension. Therefore, I had no clue how the two organisations were going to click together but in some cases they did. I look forward to keep crossing the Gloucestershire Libraries & Strike A Light bridge.
When I started, I had no idea that I’d be working on a new children’s theatre show and later on producing a digital version in lockdown. I didn’t think I’d have as much control and freedom in the role which has been nice but also terrifying at the same time.
I didn’t expect everyone to be so welcoming and friendly or to be sometimes watching the team take part in 30 second planking competitions! I also didn’t imagine myself enjoying front of house at events so much but it’s really helped with my confidence over the year. I loved talking to communities about the exciting stuff we were doing!
Favourite and least favourite things about the work?
My favourite has to be meeting all of the team and working with them to put on awesome and exciting events in Gloucester! The least is working from home during lockdown and leaving without a proper goodbye however, I know the journey hasn’t properly ended yet and I look forward to working closely with them again in the future.
What are you going on to now?
I’m going to continue my journey at Gloucestershire Libraries as part of the development team and keeping supporting and perhaps push for more exciting events and activities to happen inside our libraries. I also hope to keep in touch with exciting projects happening in Gloucester and get involved as an individual for self growth and making new connections.
Together with a group of fantastic partner organisations, we’ve been able to appoint 3 artists – 1 full-time and 2 part-time – to ‘just be artists’ for one year.
It’s an experiment in a new way of working and it starts now. From nearly 400(!) applications, we are DELIGHTED to announce that the three artists will be:
“I have been working as an artist for over 20 years but I felt like this was the kind of opportunity that should be more widely available for artists so they can have the time to experiment, and be their true selves.
I want to be the guinea pig for a new way that we think about how we pay artists and I am absolutely f****** delighted to be that guinea pig!” Tom
“AHHHH! It’s huge! It’s hard for me to put into words how much this means to me as an artist but also as a person. IT’S MEGA. MASSIVE. SICK. I’m actually still in disbelief really.
It makes me feel valued. Like what I have to say is of value. That the stories I wanna tell and the communities I wanna work with are valued within the arts and wider society.” Florence
“This is an exciting opportunity for me to share the ancient culture of Zimbabwean Mbira in a contemporary and modern context, as well as explore new contacts, connections and collaborations with artists and communities in Bristol and Gloucester.” John
We’re so thrilled to be working with, supporting and learning from such exceptional people. It was incredibly difficult to narrow the selection down to just three, and we’re sad not to be able to work with all the brilliant artists who applied – but we’re so excited to see what comes from this year.
What will the artists be doing?
That’s up to them! From the start, we’ve been clear that a crucial part of this experiment is giving artists the freedom to work with no ‘targets’, no pre-defined outcome and no pressure.
We set out the types of artists we thought this would be well-suited to, and the principles that we use in our work, in our initial recruitment call-out.
As part of the experiment development process, we also held a planning day with partner organisations and artists which expanded on that thinking in greater detail. » Read the notes from the planning day
For too long, there have been massive inequalities in terms of who benefits from ‘The Arts’ – both as audiences and professionals. Artists go underpaid, under-heard and under-supported. And it’s not truly open to everyone. We want to change that.
We felt that this moment, where there is no business-as-usual, could be an opportunity to build a new normal for the arts industry. A new normal that gets us closer to the world we want to see – where everyone can access amazing cultural events. Where the systems are:
We’re issuing an invitation to arts organisations and allies to meet on 23 February at 5pm to discuss the “heritage summit” called by Oliver Dowden, our potential collective response as arts organisations and to offer support if appropriate to the heritage sector.
Why are we worried?
This “heritage summit” is the latest in a series of similar actions from DCMS and the Charity Commission (see links below) and we are concerned that:
This is censorship
People’s stories and heritage will not be shared and by proxy will be silenced
Heritage and the arts are intrinsically linked, they both tell stories and often support each other. We want all voices to be heard and all stories to be told
This “silencing” will trickle down and DCMS may start to censor the arts and us as arts organisations
Join us for a quick (we promise) hour Zoom to find out:
What we all think about this?
What the response already is from our sector (if there is one)?
What can we do?
Will this affect us as arts organisations?
(There is quite a lot of stuff out in the world already about this but below are some links for more information.)
You can sign up to attend below – we look forward to seeing you on the 23rd February at 5pm.
If you can’t attend but would like to be involved in future conversations, please sign up to our artist mailing list below. We’ll share what comes out of the session on the 23rd and invite ideas for next steps.
Please share this with anyone who may be interested or affected
Strike A Light
“The ‘heritage summit’ will be British culture’s last stand against woke zealotry. Among the 25 heritage bodies whose leaders will meet Oliver Dowden, too many are possessed by a Left-wing spirit that the public reviles… So it is a sign of grace that Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, has invited the leaders of 25 of the country’s leading heritage bodies and charities to a meeting on February 23 to tell them “to defend our culture and history from the noisy minority of activists constantly trying to do Britain down”.