Today we celebrated the first two years of the Made in Corby programme at an event at The Core at Corby Cube with key stakeholders. We thought that this was an appropriate moment to pause, reflect, share some of what we have achieved and look forward to what the future holds.
Over the last 2 years, Made in Corby has held 273 activities and events, including workshops, performances, festivals and consultations. These have been attended by over 10,000 people. We are creating new audiences for art in Corby – according to postcode analysis from The Audience Agency, 54% of our people that engaged with the programme in 2015 were from the places of lowest engagement with the arts. And for both of our signature commissions, over a third of bookers had not previously bought a ticket for an event at The Core.
We are leading the way in enabling local communities to engage with art and make decisions about what activities take place and the artists that create them. This has been highlighted a case study report which was conducted by Ecorys on behalf of Arts Council England. Over 6000 people have been consulted through our community conversations and 337 local people have been actively involved in making decisions about our programme, from deciding the repertoire performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and choosing Danny Hero as our new musical for 2016, to joining community panels that choose which local projects to support and design extraordinary arts projects to happen within their communities.
On a rainy evening in August 2014, Made in Corby was launched with an extraordinary event at Corby Football Club. One of the main aims of our programme is to bring exceptional, internationally renowned artists to Corby to create new art with our local communities. On that evening we brought the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to Corby to perform alongside the Deep Roots Tall Trees Choir and a group of local musicians, in an evening of music written by Barb Jungr and members of the choir’s song-writing group, the ring of fire.
Despite the weather, over 1000 people were in the audience that evening and our approach to creating the event in collaboration with local people gained the programme national respect from the outset. Since then, the Deep Roots Tall Trees Choir has gone from strength to strength. They held a wonderful concert here at The Core last autumn and next week with be performing in Warkton Church who have specially commissioned them to write new songs inspired by the Montagu Monuments.
And they are about to launch the new Our Woods programme, which will animate the fantastic woodland in our town with a range of arts activities over the coming year, culminating in a special event here next May. We are thrilled that this project, inspired by the confidence and ambition that the choir gained through their experience with Made in Corby, has been awarded just short of £100,000 from Arts Council England, alongside a significant amount of funding from other sources, bringing much needed additional investment into the arts in Corby.
As well as the impact on the choir as a whole, there are numerous stories of how that evening at Steel Park has influenced the lives of individual choir members. Here’s Brigid & Elsa’s story….
Our next signature commission in 2015 saw the internationally renowned physical theatre company, Frantic Assembly, which is led by Scott Graham and Neil Bettles who grew up in Kingswood, return to Corby to work with a group of local people. No Way Back took the life stories and experiences of the ten local members of the cast and created an exciting piece of theatre that was performed here in July 2015. We wanted to make sure that as many people as possible were able to take part in the project, and we know that sometimes just telling people about an opportunity isn’t enough to excite and motivate them. So prior to trial sessions where we selected the cast, we held a series of open and targeted taster sessions, working with key agencies and groups to encourage a wide range of people to give it a go. Because of this, the cast of No Way Back had a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and previous levels of engagement with the arts. you can find a slightly longer film that documents the cast’s journey through creating No Way Back here, but for now we wanted to tell you a little bit about Johnny….
As well as our signature commissions, we have held numerous other events. From Big Days In that give people the chance to try something new in a local community centre to trips to be inspired by great art elsewhere and support for local artists. And in September, we created the Corby International Orchestra in partnership with The Core, whose performance of new music written in collaboration with Arun Ghosh was the finale the Corby International Day.
We wanted to give our local artists and community groups the opportunity to suggest and run projects of their own through our Big Ideas programme. We asked applicants to be ambitious when applying to a panel of key members of our local communities, and they certainly were. The first round of ideas saw a Shakespeare festival in Coronation Park, the birth of Corby Big Film Week, and a storytelling and writing project for women led by Corby Muslim Association.
The second round was allocated at the beginning of this year and will support weekly hip-hop sessions for disaffected young people, a contemporary floral art festival in October, the establishment of an urban art gallery at Adrenaline Alley and the launch of Circa District.
We have an exciting, packed year ahead, the major event of which will be our third signature commission, Danny Hero. Over the past two years we have been working with Perfect Pitch, the country’s leading organisation in creating new musicals, to commission a new musical inspired by our town. Danny Hero will premiere at The Core in October, performed by local people and led by local artists, who will receive expert mentoring from west-end professionals, who are currently working on shows such as Billy Elliot, Wicked and Mamma Mia.
Aside from producing a brand new musical, 2016 sees the culmination of our community commissions programme, which enables groups of local people to truly take the lead in creating new art projects to happen in and with their community. We’re working with Oakley Grange resource centre to create new art with adults with learning disabilities, commissioning new public art to animate Oakley Vale and delivering a one-day arts festival for Kingswood and Hazel Leys in partnership with the KHL Big Local group, as well as a yet to be defined project at East Carlton Park. Each of these projects are led by a commissioning panel of local people, who are working with expert mentors to discover the possibilities, define their project and commission artists through an open process. By the very nature of the panels, these projects reflect the ambition and taste of local people whilst challenging their preconceptions about art.
So, we look forward to seeing you at our events over the next year!