Julia’s summer visit to ‘Jonah & The Whale’ by Talking Birds……

Our latest post is brought to you from our Warwickshire & Worcestershire Fieldworker, Julia, who visited a festival in Worcestershire to see a wonderful piece of pop up performance called ‘The Whale’ as part of the Shindig scheme…

The Whale by Talking Birds

The Whale by Talking Birds

This summer we had a series of special pop up events across Worcestershire as part of the Shindig programme. You will have read about Katy’s trip to our first pop up at Bromsgrove Festival with the Travelling Treasury. Since then we’ve been to Bromsgrove Street Theatre, Batchley Street Theatre, Salt Festival in Droitwich and the Plum Festival in Pershore. I was lucky enough to go along to Batchley Street Theatre on Tuesday 4 August.

The festival took place on Batchley Recreation Ground just next to the pond in the heart of the estate and for this event Shindig provided ‘The Whale’ by Talking Birds. I organised the booking of ‘The Whale’ for the pop up’s but had never actually seen it, so I was quite excited to finally go and visit it!

‘The Whale’ is an immersive theatre space for around 2 – 4 people (although we did squeeze in 8 nursery children) in the shape of a whale, made mostly of aluminium & magic beans, with one performer inside. Talking Birds performed two shows, lasting 5 minutes each. The first one, ‘Jonah’, is for adults and older children and the second show, ‘Pilchard the Cat’, is for younger children. I was lucky enough to see both shows!

The story of Jonah is set at sea and she’s sending a letter to the ‘sexiest man on earth’. Jonah is stuck on a word for her letter and it needs to rhyme with regret. She asks me to suggest a word and I gave forget. Jonah is also only allowed to write 40 words in her letter but she’d written 41, so she sang the letter to me, so I could help her choose a word to remove. At the end of the play Jonah folded the letter into the shape of a whale and gave it to me and told me that I’m to give it to the ‘sexiest man on earth’, if I see him. Well, I still have that little whale, but I’ll keep a look out for Jonah’s sexiest man!

For my second turn in ‘The Whale’ I was then told the story of Mrs Jonah and how she has lost her cat, Pilchard, who is magical and Mrs Jonah went on to tell us why. One night during a terrible storm Pilchard ran out into the sea. The storm continued for three days and Mrs Jonah thought her cat was gone forever. When the storm ended, Pilchard came out of the sea and had made it safe for everyone to go into. To help find the cat Mrs Jonah gave me a map which was folded into a whale.

Both of the shows were very sweet, short and simple. It felt really magical and inclusive inside, as it was just you, your friends and family enjoying the performance. The highlight of the day for me was seeing so many different people visiting ‘The Whale’, from families to teenage boys and a children’s nursery. At the end of the day 137 people had enjoyed a show!

I’ve kept my map whale shaped map, which Jonah gave me to help me find cats, as I’m going to give it to my new nephew Harri, who was born on the same day of the festival, while I was visiting ‘The Whale’!

I look forward to writing another blog post for you again soon!


‘The Whale’ is by Talking Birds

Batchely Street Festival was by Redditch Borough Council

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Shindig’s Marketing Officer, Rosalind, attends the 21st annual Arts Marketing Association Conference in Birmingham!

AMA Stay Curious 2015 Conference

AMA Stay Curious 2015 Conference

This summer, with funding from Film Hub South West & West Midlands, I attended my very first Arts Marketing Association (AMA) Conference.  The AMA is a not-for-profit organisation, providing a community of knowledge for arts professionals passionate about bringing arts and audiences together.  This year’s theme was ‘Stay Curious’ and over 600 arts marketing professionals descended onto The Rep in Birmingham, from different arts and culture venues from across the country.

Part of my role as Marketing Officer for the Shindig scheme is working on the marketing for our rural community cinema scheme Big Picture Show, and it was a great opportunity to attend and hear from senior professionals what their experiences have been and what advice they had to offer to fellow arts marketeers!

Over the three days I attended four seminars:

Seminar One – Why We Should All Share Our Audience Databases
The main question was can a data commonwealth unlock potential or less engaged audiences? The speakers took us through work they’d been doing with nine arts organisations in Newcastle and looked at how they overcame the three main barriers of sharing audience databases; fear of poaching, fear of data and lack of technology.  The speakers mentioned how we should all be working together as we aren’t in competition with each other but in competition with Netflix, Playstation, big concert hall arenas and much more.

Seminar Two – Influencing Upwards: Asking the Right Questions
The title speaks for itself. It focused on influence strategies and how you can use it in your organisation to influence yourself upwards. One of the more fun facts I learnt from this seminar is that some large German companies think powerful questions are so important they employ a Direktor Grundsatzfragen (a.k.a. the Director of Fundamental Questions)!

Seminar Three – If the Box Office Didn’t Exist, Would We Have Invented It?
In this debate style seminar we looked at how marketing and fundraising are changing and ask what this means for the ‘closing the sale’. A comment which stuck with me from this discussion is that when events are being marketed, we shouldn’t think of people as ‘bums on seats’ but think of their heart and mind and really engage with them as individuals.

Seminar Four – How Successful Is Your Marketing? – The 8 Metrics of Marketing Success
Unfortunately there were only 7 metrics in the end but I found this seminar very engaging. The speakers provided statistics which had been collected from over 200 UK arts organisations, to then discuss the 7 most useful metrics for assessing marketing performances in your organisation. I’m hoping I can implant the 7 metrics of marketing success and maybe come up with my own number 8.

The conference also gave me the chance to meet new people from a variety of arts backgrounds, share our experiences and ideas on marketing within our own work and organisations.

For a person who works in arts marketing this was a fantastic event which definitely inspires you to push harder and connect your work with the brilliant general public.

I would like to say a big THANK YOU to Film Hub South West & West Midlands, as it was because of them that I was able to attend this awesome event!


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Katy visits the Traveling Treasury at Bromsgrove Festival!

Last month our Administration Assistant Katy visited the Street Theatre on Bromsgrove High Street, as part of the Bromsgrove Festival, to see storytelling artists the Traveling Treasury, who performed at the festival on behalf of the Shindig scheme.

Here’s Katy’s review of the performance:

Bromsgrove High Street came to life with a range of different performances for passers-by to enjoy. I found the Traveling Treasury caravan located towards the top of the high street before the row of market stalls began. The Traveling Treasury is a great family show and invites the audience to enter the performance space, which is an intricately decorated caravan – every aspect of the caravan is designed around words and storytelling, from cardboard trees that folded out to make the forest, to paper paths.  This immersive space allows the audience to experience a very intimate performance with the Treasury holding just 5 people at a time.

The performance begins outside the caravan with the Archivist giving each audience member a paper leaf printed with text. He tells the audience of his adventures discovering the most amazing stories he could find for his collection.

The story follows a little girl called Rose, who lives happily in the woods with her parents. Her mother dies and her father remarries a wicked woman who beats Rose until she runs away. She is crying in a clearing when the forest wraps around her and turns her into a tree. When Rose’s father returns and discovers his daughter gone, he runs into the forest and finds a rose. He then cries until the forest turns him into a tree that is forever entwined with hers.

The two performers play multiple characters and the piece involves mime and dance, as well as an audio track featuring music and sound effects.  The piece is perfect for children with its fairy-tale content and a really enjoyable performance for adults as well.

The Traveling Treasury is a fantastic example of storytelling and I hope I can see it again soon!


If you missed the Traveling Treasury then you can catch them on Saturday 12 September at Salt Festival in Droitwich. The Bromsgrove Festival continues to run throughout the rest of July and on Wednesday 29 July you can see another immersive performance called The Whale by Talking Birds on behalf of the Shindig scheme.

Other performances Katy saw at the festival…

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New promoters join the Shindig team!

Julia Snowdin, our Worcestershire Fieldworker, has been busy recruiting new promoting groups to Shindig.  She has put together this post to tell us a little bit more about the new additions to our rural touring family…..

What an exciting first five months I’ve had! I’ve been to many shows, seeing a mixture of music and drama across Worcestershire.

I am happy to announce that I’ve recruited SIX new promoters for Shindig and I’m sure you are all as happy as I am to welcome them onto the scheme.

Lickey Hills Community Theatre's venue Trinity Hall

Lickey Hills Community Theatre’s venue Trinity Hall

Lickey Hills Community Theatre is the first group that I recruited. The villages Cofton Hackett, Blackwell and Lickey, who make up the Community Theatre, will be having shows within Trinity Hall in Lickey.

Just a few miles down the road is Barnt Green Parish Council, who are joining the scheme and will be having shows in October and April. The group currently organises a walk and run within the town and joining Shindig will really add to their programme.

Picturesque Chaddesley Corbet, are joining the scheme too with their local primary school, which is located just outside the village. The hall is very large and modern as the school is brand new. There have been ceilidhs at the school in the past and Yolande, our new promoter, has attended many Shindig performances in the past.

The stage at Fairfield Village Hall

The stage at Fairfield Village Hall

To finish the Bromsgrove quartet is Fairfield Village Hall Committee, who arecoming on board to bring drama and music events to their area.

Over the last few months I have been visiting the very beautiful Malvern Hills to meet some very rural communities. My first venue was Eastham Village Hall, where committee members, Pen and Rachel, currently offer lots of food themed events. They are now looking to spread their wings and add diversity to their programme with the scheme.

Heading towards Tenby Wells Stoke Bliss & Kyre Village Hall are joining us. I had the surprise of my life when a soldier dropped out of a CSS helicopter when I was getting out of my car! Apparently this happens quite frequently in Stoke Bliss. They have a lovely new village hall, which is just a year old and I think Shindig will fit perfectly within it.

For Shindig Comes to Town we have Worcester Acoustic Music Season, based at the St Swithuns Institute, which is really in the heart of Worcester. Barry, the founder or Worcester Acoustic Music Season, has been organising ceilidhs and acoustic nights, and has joined Shindig to widen the music on offer and have some international artists as well.

It’s been brilliant to get out and about and learn more about Worcestershire and I can’t wait to meet even more new Shindig Promoters!


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Promoter Meeting at Great Witley Village Hall

This year’s Shindig Promoter Meeting took place at Great Witley Village Hall. The meeting started with a presentation by John Laidlaw, Executive Director of Shindig, who gave an overview of what’s been happening in the past year. This year we were able to report back that our funding is steady and we shared the exciting news about our expansion into the East Midlands and explained what this means for Shingdig. We also invited promoters to voice their interest for this year’s National Rural Touring Forum Conference, which takes place in Norfolk from 14-16 July.

After the presentation the promoters got a glimpse at the new 2015/16 menu, as well as seeing a snippet of live performance by KEPOW Theatre Company, whose routine from their show Crazy Little Thing Called Love made me cry with laughter!

We had 39 people from 21 organisation on the night, which is fantastic amount so thank you to everyone who came. I would also like to say a massive thank you to Great Witley Village Hall for letting us use their venue!

The meeting gave the promoters a chance to meet one another and it’s also an opportunity for the Shindig staff to meet the promoting groups to.

I had a great time at the Shindig Promoter Meeting and I hope to be back in Worcestershire soon!


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Live & Local Announces East Midlands Expansion…

We have some exciting news!

During 2015 Live & Local, the company which manages Shindig, will be taking on the management of three touring schemes in the East Midlands.  These rural touring schemes are currently coordinated by Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC); Village Ventures in Nottinghamshire, Centre Stage in Leicestershire and Lincolnshire Rural & Community Touring.  NCC will maintain the level of investment in their scheme and great support also continues from the other local authorities in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire and some Districts in Leicestershire. A decline in some resources however has impacted on the overall co-ordination of the schemes, so NCC have been exploring how to best offer the same quality and extent of programme into the future.

In October 2014 Live & Local was approached by NCC with a view to entering into discussions with regard to taking on the management of the three schemes. Working with Arts Council England and NCC we have discussed how best to sustain these schemes into the future. It has been agreed that co-ordination of the three schemes will be handed over to Live & Local to be run in conjunction with our other schemes in the Midlands.

This expansion will give us a robust platform from which to deliver our business plan that is designed to add greater resilience to the organisation. It also helps to underpin the rural touring infrastructure across the country by providing a strong foundation for community touring to thrive in the Midlands for years to come.

Live & Local Executive Director, John Laidlaw says:

“This is excellent news. It represents major growth for Live & Local and will help to protect all the community touring schemes that we will manage. The fantastic legacy of Sue Beresford and her team at Nottinghamshire County Council gives us great confidence for the future. We are delighted by the assurance and support shown by Arts Council England and the County Council in Live & Local’s experience and capabilities so that we can take on this exciting new phase for our company.”

We will work closely with NCC and ACE for most of 2015/16 and fully take over the reins in August. We are also committed to maintaining the current level of support and connections across our existing network with all funders, promoters, artists and audiences.

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A warm welcome to JULIA, our new Worcestershire and Warwickshire Fieldworker……


Julia Snowdin - Wocestershire and Warwickshire Fieldworker for Live & Local

Julia Snowdin – Wocestershire and Warwickshire Fieldworker for Live & Local

I’d like to introduce myself, I’m Julia the new Worcestershire and Warwickshire Fieldworker for Live & Local. Based at HQ in Warwick I’m going to be out and about supporting current and recruiting new Promoters. I’m part time, three days a week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Previously I worked for Birmingham Museums Trust; firstly I was based in the very beautiful art gallery & museum and finally at Thinktank (Birmingham Science Museum). My main role was to manage corporate events at the museum art gallery which gave me the opportunity to work with the BBC and some very inspiring charities like the Children’s Hospital.

I was excited to go and see my first community touring show recently, It’s a Wonderful Life at Shrewley Village Hall. What a fantastic show it was, the actors from Farnham Maltings really brought the show to life. Moving through different characters with changing costumes and voices and using the audience as extras you learnt the story of George Bailey and really understood his predicament. The end of the play showed the compassion of the villagers and demonstrated the kindness of others. For the finale, hand in hand the audience and cast sang Auld Lang Syne lifting the roof and creating a real high. I can’t wait to see my next show, Big Daddy vs Gaint Haystacks at Shirebrook Village Hall.

While I’m not at work I’m either knitting installations for galleries and festivals or out on my bike, swimming or running preparing for triathlons!

Hope to see you out and about soon!


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