The GIFT Exchange 2021

GIFT presents The GIFT Exchange, 3 days of online panels, conversations, sharings & workshops designed for artists in the North East of England & for audiences everywhere.

Following the extraordinary transition of GIFT 2020 into an online edition in May 2020, where GIFT reached thousands of audience members in over 50 countries, GIFT is back for 2021 with The GIFT Exchange, an online event that will offer artists based in North East England opportunities to come together, to look outward and build collectively to the future.

Events planned for The GIFT Exchange will reflect on what ‘international’ might mean for artists and their practice today. There will be the chance for artists to find out about existing opportunities to take their work to an international stage, and to explore sustainable models for global cultural exchange.

The GIFT Exchange will amplify voices, initiatives and opportunities from the North East of England’s brilliant independent performance sector. It will offer audiences a glimpse ahead to projects that are planned for GIFT in 2022 and provide artists with the chance to connect & exchange. There will be workshops, artist talks, and sharings from online artistic residencies. In addition, there will be drop-in artist surgeries for one-on-one and small group conversations where artists will be invited to to dig deep and explore different aspects of their practice with specialists from different fields.

Let’s Get International

Featured Events include North East Culture Social: Let’s Get International, Friday 30th April, 10am (BST). North East Culture Social and GIFT invite you to come together and talk all things international. How does the North East feel for visiting artists and workers? How have international relationships shaped the work of North East artists? And what is a North East artist anyway? Let’s talk about the international cultures that meet in this corner of the world, and hopes and dreams for international collaborations in the future. North East Culture Social will be hosted by Annie Rigby (Unfolding Theatre) and Amy Golding (Curious Monkey) with guest speakers from near and far!

Meet the Festivals

Tune in on Saturday 1st May at 12.30pm (BST) for the launch of the Wear and Tyne Festival collective, a new network which aims to promote festival culture in the North East. Wear & Tyne Festivals (WTF) is a new collective of 8 Wear and Tyne based live performance festivals - Curious, GIFT, Harambee Pasadia, MAPS, Moving Parts, Summer Streets, TUSK and Vamos. The WTF launch will be an opportunity to ‘Meet the Festivals’ to ask questions, and to hear about plans for the future.

Exploring sustainable global cultural exchange

Since August 2020, GIFT has been working with Canadian artist duo Mia & Eric on a remote ‘off-site’ artist residency, connecting the artists from their home in Calgary with individuals and communities who live locally to Gateshead's Chopwell Wood. With support from The British Council’s New Conversations programme, Mia & Eric will be connecting throughout April with artists who live locally to Chopwell Wood to continue to deepen their site-responsive explorations. The findings from their residency will be shared as part of The GIFT Exchange, revealing new models for international collaborations - without the need to travel. This project forms part of a longer multi-year project connecting GIFT with festivals in Norway and Germany over the next two years. You can find out more about this ongoing project, and participate yourself next time you visit Chopwell Wood via

Mia & Eric will also offer a workshop for artists on, Sunday 2nd May, 4pm (BST) sharing some of the methods behind their socially engaged creative practice. They will also be joining forces with Bristol based artists Action Hero, Saturday 1st May, 5pm (BST) for an online talk about a collaborative project planned for presentation at GIFT in 2022.

Top Tips

Farnham Maltings, an arts venue based in South East England, will offer an information sharing session specifically for North East theatre and performance makers about Caravan Assembly, a biennial platform of new performance connecting England based artists with international programmers. This session, billed for Friday 30th April at 1pm (BST), will offer the chance for North East artists to get some top-tips on how to apply to be part of Caravan 2022.

Facilitated Conversations

On Sunday 2nd May, at 10am (BST) you are invited to make yourself some brekkie and start the day with some inspiring chats at The Breakfast Club, hosted by Newcastle’s very own The Six Twenty. The Breakfast Club is a relaxed meet up for artists, cultural freelancers and arts workers. You are invited to drop in at any time and stay for as long or as little as you like. You can even stay in your PJs!

Encountering Exchange

In this closing conversation, GIFT’s Festival Director Kate Craddock will reflect on the various events over the three days and the many exchanges and encounters that have taken place. Kate is keen to use this as a chance to connect with GIFT’s community of artists and audiences to discuss GIFT’s ongoing projects and to consider the future of the festival together. Encountering Exchange will take place on Sunday 2nd May at 5pm (BST).

Festival Director Kate Craddock said: “It has been quite an extraordinary journey for GIFT over the last year. The experience of taking GIFT online for our tenth edition in 2020 allowed us to reach new audiences all over the world, which was so special. The GIFT Exchange will offer us the chance to follow on from last year’s festival, creating an event that connects our local performance community both with itself, and with opportunities and networks far beyond the region. All of the events are designed with the idea of genuine exchange at their heart and we invite people to join us online for 2021 as we look forward to returning with a festival rooted 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. If you have any specific access requirements or questions please email the GIFT team on

Booking information

All events are free to attend, but places are limited and must be booked in advance.

For full listings and for bookings visit:

Keep up to date by following GIFT on Social Media @GIFTfest

Events at The GIFT Exchange have been made possible with generous support from Gateshead Council, Newcastle University, Arts Council England, British Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Farnham Maltings, and the High Commission of Canada in the UK.