This year, the GIFT programme is full of North East based artists showcasing new performance works, with loads of opportunities for audiences to offer feedback and input into the next stage of their process. This plethora of exciting new work hasn’t just emerged from nowhere, but instead is largely the result all of the amazing artist development opportunities that exist in the region. In particular, those opportunities that have been developed and nurtured through the North East Artist Development Network (NEADN) over the last few years.
As Annabel Turpin, ARC's Chief Executive & Artistic Director, explains:
“It’s fantastic to see the NEADN activity feeding into programmes at venues and festivals across the region, and the work at GIFT is a brilliant example of this. Part of the network’s role is to make artists more visible, and to support them to find platforms for their work. NEAD residencies are selected via an open call process, and subject to a rigorous selection process so we can be confident that these are some of the most interesting artists and companies currently making work in the North East. I hope lots of people to choose to come along and support them.”
Managed by ARC, NEADN is led by a small group of organisations committed to supporting artists to develop their work through a range of activities including: Meet the Programmers, a twice yearly event designed to bring programmers and artists together; and the NEADN Residency scheme, whereby artists and companies can apply with an idea for a new project at its very earliest of stages to receive a week long residency at a venue with up to £2000 support, and a mentor attached.
Alongside other members of the Steering Group for NEADN, Kate Craddock, GIFT Festival Director is a mentor as part of the residency programme, and over the last year has mentored two separate artists/projects and venues. This has given Kate insight into the impact that this opportunity can have on artists as they are developing new performance ideas. Kate saw the potential to offer GIFT as a platform for some of the artists who have undertaken these initial residencies to show their work to a wider public audience, so she created lots of space in the programme at GIFT 2018 for artists to continue to explore and test out heir ideas, but this time in front of an audience.
So this year at GIFT, audiences will have the chance to see lots of work by artists who have pitched at Meet the Programmers and have been supported by a NEADN residency.
On Saturday 5th May, there will be the Little GIFT Scratch at 10.30am - in which there will be 2 short performances of new shows for kids - one of which is by Ruth Johnson and Tale Jam who undertook their NEADN residency at The Witham earlier this year.
Then on Saturday afternoon, at 2pm and 4pm, Maria Laumark (who has recently pitched a different project at the most recent Meet The Programmers event, and last year relocated to Newcastle from Denmark because of the thriving artist development scene) will perform a show called ROBUST with her Danish company CHACMA Performance at BALTIC.
On Saturday evening at 7pm, Rosa Postlethwaite will present a full length preview of her show Composed - which is currently in the final stages of an NEADN residency at Caedmon Hall - the same venue in which it will be performed for GIFT.
This will be followed at 8.30pm by The Great GIFT Scratch, featuring artists who have both pitched at NEADN event Meet the Programmers, and who have been involved in NEADN Residencies: Bex Bowsher; Mike Edwards and Scott Turnbull.
Then finally on Sunday 6th May, Bonnie and the Bonnettes will be holding an Open Rehearsal at Thought Foundation, Birtley, for their new show And She, which again, is a new work supported with a NEADN residency (at Durham Gala).
All of the artists are taking big steps to put their work out there in front of an audience, and this is part of the ethos of GIFT, for artists to use the festival as a space for testing ideas and taking risks, and Kate and the artists are all really looking forward to hearing what audiences have to say about these new ideas for the stage!
ARC currently manages activity on behalf of the North East Artist Development Network, which is led by a small group of organisations committed to support artists to develop their work. The Network’s vision is to make the North East the best place in the UK for artists to develop work, by creating a strong and effective artist development infrastructure that not only retains talent in the region, but also attracts talent to the region. The Network is led by a steering group consisting of: Patricia Stead, Dance City (Co-chair) Graeme Thompson, Live Theatre Mark Calvert, Northern Stage Kate Craddock, GIFT Jo Cundall, Gala Durham Helen Green, Sunderland Culture Company Jo Potts, Alnwick Playhouse Annabel Turpin, ARC (Co-chair) ARC acts as project manager for the Network, reporting to the steering group. Venue Partners: Alnwick Playhouse Alphabetti Theatre ARC Stockton Arts Centre Washington Bishop Auckland Town Hall Dance City, Newcastle Gala Theatre, Durham Gateshead Arts Development Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre Live Theatre Northern Stage, Newcastle Saltburn Arts Theatre Sunderland Culture Company The Witham, Barnard Castle The network’s funded activity aims to: The funded activity aims to: - deliver a talent development programme which will influence the way artists/companies and venues work together
- initiate relationships between artists/companies and programmers
- increase the level of development support offered by venues
- promote the North East as a fantastic place to develop and present work
- stimulate critical writing about theatre and performance presented in the region
There are four main areas of activity:
Meet the Programmers – twice yearly events designed to bring North East programmers and artists together. Click here for more details.
A Guide to North East Venues and Festivals – an edocument designed to provide information about artistic policies and artist development opportunities offered by venues and festivals across the North East. It is updated twice a year and the latest version can be downloaded here.
Residencies – during 2017/18 the Network will support 16 residencies in 10 different venues for artists and companies at the earliest stages of developing their work, providing an opportunity to work up an idea, with the support of a venue, to the point where is it was ‘commission ready’, i.e in a position to seek funding or other support to realise the work. Selected companies received up to £2,000 in cash as well as a week of free space, advice and other support.
North East Reviews - set up to increase the amount of critical writing around new performance work in the region. Following an open call, ten reviewers were chosen for the scheme, who review new work across the region. Any North East artist or companies presenting new work in the region can apply for their work to be reviewed. All reviews appear here.