Wounded arts sector needs to know that its valued

Theatre mask

Performing artists and the arts need support - Credit: Getty Images

We’re a hardy lot us British. We’re well accustomed to making the best of a day on the beach in weather conditions that any other nation would baulk at. I think if anything, Covid has made us even more hardy than before; outdoor seating and events have seamlessly become the norm and our ability to weather the weather is now finely honed.

One of our most wounded sectors in the last two years has been live performance and the arts, so I think it’s time we tried to support as many artists as we can. Outdoor theatre has always been a favourite evening out for me; there’s something so enchanting about being transported through time and space while sitting in a garden or amphitheatre. The offerings in our region this year are so varied that there’s something for everyone if you look carefully. Powderham Castle are veterans of the outdoor event and this year in addition to a smattering of Shakespeare (Henry V and Romeo and Juliet) offer us British Youth Music Theatre’s production of Peter Pan, a great event for families. The Illyria Outdoor Theatre company are setting up stage in the grounds of Cockington Court at the end of the month for a production of HMS Pinafore and closer to home Theatre on the Green is being brought to the community for free by the Budleigh Salterton drama club. For those that don’t mind a drive, the Soapbox theatre in Plymouth has open air performances of The Three Little Pigs but my big recommendation, the ‘must-see if you possibly can’, is a totally different theatrical event also taking place in Plymouth.

The belated 400 year anniversary of the Mayflower spawned lots of special arts events. The Hatchling, is a ground-breaking outdoor theatrical performance that will unfold over a weekend of events and reach an extraordinary finale over the coast of Plymouth.
Conceived by a team of top level creatives with experience of staging theatrical shows, the Hatchling is the world’s largest human-operated puppet and it will be roaming the streets of Plymouth over the weekend of August 14 and August 15. The interactive free performance culminates between 8pm and 10pm on August 15 when the puppet transforms into a kite and takes to the air from Plymouth Hoe into the sunset. It is the world premier of the event which will also be showcased next year in London and promises to be quite the spectacle (https://www.thehatchling.co.uk/ for details).

Despite our current Government’s best efforts to lay waste to the arts (don’t even get me started on the funding cuts to arts education or the suggestion that creatives should be re-training in ‘cyber’), we have some of the best artists of all types across the creative industries here in the UK. When we were all trying to make sense of lockdown and find some structure to our days, we turned to the arts, films, music and live-streamed events. Getting back to bums-on-seats is really important in sending a message to our arts sector that it is really valued. And when we have world-class FREE events happening just down the road you’d need to have a really good reason not to.

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