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The GIFT Exchange 2021

Press Release

Date: Friday 23 April, 2021

Contacts: Kate Redway, /07984 450 765

Melanie Rashbrooke


Gateshead International Festival of Theatre presents The GIFT Exchange- Friday 30 April - Sunday 2 May 2021

The North East’s dedicated festival celebrating global contemporary theatre and performance, GIFT, returns, with The GIFT Exchange- three days of in-depth, informal workshops, panel events and conversations that will bring artists together and build collective partnerships and ideas for the future.

Designed for theatre and performance artists and fans, in the North East of England and across the world, this second ‘pandemic’ festival offers an exploratory and creative digital platform for people to connect, following an extremely challenging year for the arts. Last year’s online lockdown edition linked up thousands of audience members, across over 50 countries.

Audiences are invited to take part in 25 wide-ranging, informal events, covering subjects including how to create remote ‘off site’ artist residencies; ways to drive socially engaged creative practice; sustainable theatre making and global cultural exchange. The GIFT Exchange will also reflect on international collaboration- what this might mean for artists and their practice today and existing opportunities to take work on to an international stage.

The festival will once again amplify voices, initiatives and opportunities from the North East of England’s acclaimed independent performance sector. It offers artists the opportunity to co-create new work together and get involved with future planned projects for GIFT 2022. Drop-in artist surgeries will provide one-on-one, and small group conversations, inviting people to explore different aspects of their practice, in-depth, with specialists from diverse fields, including the digital realm.

The GIFT Exchange highlights include:

  • North East Culture Social: Let’s Get International (Friday 30 April, 10am), where North East Culture Social and GIFT invite artists to come together and talk in detail about international practice- how the North East feels for visiting artists and workers, how international relationships have shaped the work of North East artists and the question of what a North East artist really is. The session explores the international cultures that meet in this corner of the world, as well as hopes and dreams for future international collaborations. It will be hosted by Annie Rigby (Unfolding Theatre), Amy Golding (Curious Monkey) and includes guest speakers Patrick Ziza (Newcastle) and Atresbandes (Barcelona).

  • Tutorials: (daily at 9am and 6pm) Artist Oliver Zahn (Germany) presents two intimate daily online encounters between two artists who are miles and countries apart, meeting for the very first time. Audiences will be privy to them teaching each other something, anything, ‘passing knowledge from one body to another.’

  • Meet the Festivals (Saturday 1 May, 12.30pm): The launch of the Wear and Tyne Festival collective, a new network aiming to promote festival culture in the North East. Wear & Tyne Festivals (WTF) is a collective of eight Wear and Tyne based live performance festivals, Curious, GIFT, Harambee Pasadia, MAPS, Moving Parts, Summer Streets, TUSK and Vamos. Audiences will ‘Meet the Festivals’, ask questions and hear about future plans.

  • Exploring sustainable global cultural exchange: Since August 2020, GIFT has worked with Canadian artist duo Mia & Eric on a remote ‘off-site’ artist residency, connecting the artists, from their Calgary home, with individuals and communities living locally to Chopwell Wood. With support from The British Council’s New Conversations programme, Mia & Eric have linked up, throughout April, with artists living locally to the wood, to continue to deepen their site-responsive explorations. This session shares their residency findings, revealing new models for international collaboration, without the need to travel. This project forms part of a longer project connecting GIFT with festivals in Norway and Germany over the next two years. To find out more about this ongoing project and on how to participate, visit

  • Disability: A Celebration: (Saturday 1 May, 2pm) Join members from Disconsortia, a collective of 17 talented, diverse North East disabled artists, for an online talk to celebrate disabled artists, the best of the best disabled-led art in the North East and find out more about Disconsortia’s upcoming work and how to get involved.

  • People Aren’t Interested in... Byelaws Until They Realise How Interesting Byelaws Are: (Saturday 1 May, 5pm) Audiences are invited to find out about socially engaged creative practice and a new collaboration between Bristol-based company Action Hero and Canadian artists Mia & Eric. The session investigates why byelaws are ‘actually really interesting’, and why they’ve decided to start cutting up city byelaws word-by-word and painstakingly rearranging them to create a set of new rules for the future city. The online talk shares insights into the new project, Future Perfect: New Byelaws for Civic Spaces, ahead of its presentation at GIFT in 2022.

  • Open House: Body and Voice Workshop: (Saturday 1 May, 3-4pm) specialist movement and voice teachers, Walli Höfinger (Berlin) and Teresa Brayshaw (Manchester), run a practical self-care session to open up the voice and body- an hour of uninterrupted ‘me time’.

  • FIELD: a conversation on value: (Saturday 1 May, 10am): Award winning performance company Two Destination Language’s Alister Lownie and Katherina Radeva run a new in-depth session on value, outlining their ongoing conversational practice approach. This follows their first FIELD residency last year, which gathered freelance artists from across the North, to spend two weeks together online, thinking about the opportunities arising from the pandemic and giving people a space where curiosity and questions were valued above answers and certainties.

For a relaxed meet up for artists, cultural freelancers and arts workers, The Breakfast Club (Sunday 2 May, 10am), offers an open drop-in for a digital breakfast and inspiring chats, hosted by Newcastle’s own The Six Twenty- PJs optional.

Access is integrated across the festival, with BSL interpreted events, and closed captioning available.

Festival Director Kate Craddock said: “It’s certainly been an extraordinary and challenging journey for GIFT over the last year. Our 2020 digital tenth edition allowed us to reach new audiences from all over the world, but it also enabled us to support each other at a time when projects and budgets have been starkly impacted by the pandemic. The GIFT Exchange offers us the chance to further build on the digital creative networks set up last year, with a rejuvenated platform connecting our local performance community with itself, and with opportunities and networks far beyond the region, at a crucial time. All events have been designed with the idea of genuine exchange at their heart and we invite people to join us online, share in open discussions and artistic sessions and also be an integral part of the planning for our festival return, back in the heart of Gateshead again in 2022.”

Access information

All events will take place online. Closed captioning and BSL interpreters will be available. Audiences are asked to please email the GIFT team on for any specific access requirements or questions.

Booking information

All events are free, but places are limited and must be booked in advance. For full listings and bookings visit: and keep up to date with GIFT news by following @GIFTfest

Notes to editor

About GIFT:

Founded by Kate Craddock, GIFT was first established in 2011 to provide a platform for performance work which is not normally programmed in the region, and to offer professional development for contemporary theatre makers. GIFT serves as a creative and cultural response to the ongoing redevelopment of Gateshead, with activities connecting the regenerated Gateshead Quayside with the more commercially redeveloped town centre. It is the only festival dedicated to contemporary theatre in North East England. Organisers and participants see it as an important opportunity to bring high quality cultural activity to the area and to offer a showcase for North East artists. GIFT is currently part of the consortium commissioned by Arts Council England to deliver England’s Performing Arts Showcase, promoting performance created by artists based in England to international delegates across Edinburgh’s Festivals.@giftfest

About Kate Craddock:

Kate is Founder and Festival Director of GIFT: Gateshead International Festival of Theatre, an artist-led festival celebrating contemporary theatre. Kate has worked across creative and academic contexts since 2005 and she completed her practice based PhD ‘Collaboration in Performance Practice: Trust, Longevity and Challenging Proximity’ in 2010. Kate is currently a Research Associate in the School of English at Newcastle University, and prior to this led the MA Theatre and Performance course at Northumbria University (2015-2019). As a theatre maker, Kate has performed throughout the UK and internationally. She is a Trustee for ARC, Stockton Arts Centre and The Paper Birds. In 2018/19, Kate was recipient of the Clore Cultural Leadership Theatre Fellowship. @katecraddock



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