Farnham Maltings to continue the work of Visiting Arts

Farnham Maltings to continue the work of Visiting Arts

Farnham Maltings is delighted to announce that they will be continuing many of the key projects developed by Visiting Arts over the past 40 years through a merger of the two organisations. Sophia Victoria, consultant with Visiting Arts, will be joining the Maltings team to work with Gavin Stride, CEO and Hannah Slimmon, international producer, on sustaining and developing the work of VA to ‘strengthen intercultural understanding through the arts’. In particular the Maltings team are keen to ensure the continued success of the Cultural Attaché Network as a means of making introductions to UK based artists and programmers. They will also be reshaping the popular breakfast meeting within the Edinburgh Festival and developing ‘Tales from the Field’ as a podcast series to explore the challenges and realities of working in particular territories.

‘It feels completely right, in these uncertain times, to work at understanding others and to describe who we are to the world. This is a perfect opportunity to ensure a legacy for the hard work of so many people at VA over the past forty years and will, we believe, help more artists and programmers to work internationally” Gavin Stride, CEO for Farnham Maltings

These new, to Farnham Maltings, projects perfectly complement the current biennial showcase of new English Performance run within the Brighton Festival, the training and symposium programme, podcasts and exchange programmes with South Korea, Hong Kong and Canada for artists and producers.

Yvette Vaughan Jones, who recently stepped down as Chief Executive of Visiting Arts commented ‘Expanding on our shared ambitions and a great relationship built with Farnham Maltings over the years, I am delighted for this partnership to ensure the work of Visiting Arts continues and enable the development of the valuable programmes and networks we have cultivated. I have no doubt that the team will make the most of the opportunities and look forward to following the projects.”

Farnham Maltings is a National Portfolio Organisation of the Arts Council of England making a particular investment in the work the company does to support the independent performing arts sector.

For enquires or further information please contact Gavin Stride gavin.stride@farnhammaltings.com / 01252 745400

no strings attached

girl with umbrella pexels-photo-57851 credit Edu Lauton smaller

no strings attached is a grant scheme to help young people make their first piece of theatre. Grants of between £500 and £1,000 are available to young people from across the south-east region. The grant is for anyone aged between 18 and 25 who hasn’t previously received a grant from Arts Council England.

In October we ran a pitching day for fourteen artists/companies to come and share their ideas with us and as ever it was a real privilege to hear from such ambitious, committed and passionate young makers!

We are now pleased to announce the successful artists/companies to be awarded a grant for 2018-19.  They are as follows:

Sophie Hatton

Sophie applied to no strings attached on behalf of Ditto, a family theatre company specialising in puppetry, movement and storytelling. The pitch was for a new family show that the panel feel could be exciting, inspiring and educational to young audiences.

Chantelle Walker

Chantelle is a performance artist and maker who pitched to no strings attached to help develop her new piece of work about breaking down stereotypes through spoken word and movement.

Rhodri Mayer

Rhodri pitched his idea of a new piece of work that would explore his world as a young autistic person. The piece would look to create a atmosphere in which the audience could understand the world from his perspective and how it feels to have ASD.

Amy Tribe

Amy applied to no strings attached on behalf of Buried Thunder Theatre Company a physical theatre company who tell stories through movement. The company pitched the idea of a tour of  their new show which will look at telling stories of British Folklore in a new contemporary way.

Grace Scott

Grace applied to no strings attached on behalf of The Ordinary People. Grace and Max pitched the idea for a rural touring puppetry piece that will look at the seclusion and loneliness of an elderly woman.

Ema Boswood

Ema pitched the idea of a one woman show exploring ghosting, a comedy using paranormal techniques and dealing with rejection.


All successful candidates are also matched with a mentor in which they will have two sessions on their chosen area.

Each will be working on developing their individual ideas over the next year and we wish them all every success.

For more information about the scheme and about the next round of applications please click here


Little Bulb answer 10 questions as they celebrate 10 years of being a company

  1. During your 10 years as a company what have been the high points of your careers so far? 

I mean, in terms of career high points and what we’ve managed to achieve as a company, then probably getting to perform Orpheus at the Salzburg Festival and in the Royal Opera House were definitely times when we couldn’t quite believe how lucky we were and where the show had got us all!  But on the quiet, at the risk of sounding really cheesy I think some of the best times we had are when we’ve often had the least, being squashed up in a tiny car together with props around your ears, doing one-off gigs in the most unlikely of places, even filling in an Edinburgh brochure form in the middle of the night on the other side of world just to meet the deadline; all those times when it’s fun even though, and probably because, it’s ridiculous, I think they’re the best bits.


  1. What have been the low points, challenges or obstacles and how did you move past them? 

Whilst doing theatre is unfathomably rich in experiences and a huge privilege in terms of getting to do what you love as a living, it definitely isn’t the most lucrative of careers and so before we really knew how to run ourselves as a business in our very first year out of uni, I have a very strong memory of Alex and I rehearsing in his brother’s spare bedroom at 4am in the morning for a scratch the following day, all of which was for free, because we both had full time jobs in London to pay the rent and so couldn’t rehearse any other time, and I definitely lost my sense of humour about it all just because i was so exhausted and so tired! Plus, ironically, the scratch was a comedy sketch about how hard it was to live in London!  But not long after that we decided to cut our losses and say goodbye to having a permanent base in order to give the art the chance to be our main way to earn a living and lo and behold it paid off.  It was a massive risk, but one that i’m ever so glad we took because it gave us the impetus to just really go for it.


  1. What do you know now that you wish you would have known when starting out? 

That it would all be okay in the end, or, maybe seeing as we’re still going that the word ‘end’ isn’t the right terminology but that perhaps there is much to cherish even in the toughest times, and that, given time, you gain perspective about the past and see it as a necessary, important lesson to learn rather than some huge, overwhelming almighty obstacle that you’re never to going to get over.  I still need to remember that even now!


  1. What is your favourite thing about making theatre? 

There’s so much to love about making theatre.  Any thing that interests you or excites you about art and about the world can be taken into the rehearsal room and explored in a very free and dynamic way.  The rehearsal room can be an incredibly exciting place full of challenges and discoveries, but probably the best thing about making theatre is when you get to share your work with an audience.  That is where the whole life of a show comes into focus; the pressure of performance gives everything a charge and when the audience are on board it’s thrilling to be able to lead them through a journey that you have spent weeks and weeks crafting.


  1. What is your least favourite thing about making or working in theatre?

The worst thing about making theatre is the agony of trying to solve problems that have no easy answers, but that’s also one of the best things, so I guess really the worst thing is all the loading and carrying you have to do when setting up in a new places and then packing it all up again.


  1. In the last 10 years who has influenced you as makers and performers? 

Any show might lead us to discover or return to an artist whose aesthetic could become a touchstone as we hone in on the language of our productions.  It could be anything from a well known composer, like Philip Glass, or something very niche like the specific stylisation of an unknown actor in a Barclays advert from the 80’s.  Then there are the other theatre companies that we meet on our travels.  There are so many companies out there making fantastic work whom we greatly admire.  We are big fans of Improbable, The TEAM, and Nigel and Louise to name but a few.


  1. What is little bulbs process for making a new show? Do you have one? 

We start every new project by trying to create a unique world that the show will be born out of. This normally involves us immersing ourselves in the music of this world. Learning new instruments and writing compositions. We then expand this out to explore characters and narratives but we always start with the world and style of the show.


  1. Tell us one interesting fact about each of the bulbs. 

Dom’s shoulder frequently dislocates – it happened during a show once and he just put it straight back in, then after the show he was telling us about it whilst stretching and it happened again, but this time it got stuck! So we all had to get in a taxi to the hospital with Dom’s arm stuck in the air,  and the next day we had to perform as a plat du jour for the British Council Showcase!

Clare used to work as a florist and Alex has a phobia of Smarties.


  1. Do you still get nervous? If so who gets the most nervous before setting foot on stage? 

Well I think we don’t get as nervous as we used to when we were starting out but whenever we make a new show and share it for the first time I would say we all get equally nervous.  Clare often gets nervous about not being nervous, which is ridiculous but also at least its solves it’s own problem!


  1. Looking forward to the next 10 years what do you want to achieve?

We love making shows in new and unexplored genres and there’s so many to explore. So we hope that we continue to explore and experiment and try new things


Little Bulb’s Orpheus will be on at BAC from the 5-30 Dec 2018 to purchase tickets click here

Little Bulb are produced by Farnham Maltings.


Farnham Maltings and Unlimited Partnership Commission


Farnham Maltings is proud to announce a joint commission with Unlimited for a project that gives innovative and exciting responses to the context of rural touring and village halls, and that place audiences at the heart of their artistic process.

We can provide expert advice and resources to those who are invited to submit a full application to the Farnham Maltings and Unlimited partnership award.  It is expected that the commissioned piece will tour to at least 3 rural communities during the project and be available to tour or shown by Spring 2020.

Projects wishing to be considered for this award will also need to meet the following criteria:

  • to be in the form of an event and/or performance
  • disability-led
  • to be innovative, ambitious and quality driven
  • have audience response and engagement at the heart of their creative process
  • strong track record of creating work and reaching audiences
  • strong artist/producer relationship evidenced
  • strong collaborations and partnerships (these can include those with non-disabled led companies/artists/producers)
  • technically suitable for touring into village halls and rural contexts
  • lead artist or company is resident in England or Wales
  • are applying for up to £25,000

Gavin Stride, Director of Farnham Maltings says “For us, there are extraordinary opportunities in making work for village halls and we want to encourage everybody to explore what happens when you make work with geographic communities rather than necessarily arts goers. There is something democratic in spaces in which everyone enters and leaves through the same door.

We want to make sure that the widest set of artists are offered the opportunity to play in this context. To discover what is special and ordinary in a space in which most people are turning up, not for the theatre but because something is happening in their community.”

Artists are invited to apply in the first instance with expressions of interest by 12pm 29th October 2018.

For more information and details of how to apply click here.

10 questions about caravan with Gobbledegook Theatre

In the lead up to the caravan showcase we asked Lorna Rees, Artistic Director and artist of participating company Gobbledegook Theatre to answer some of our questions.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you attended caravan before in any capacity? 

No – I’ve not, though I’ve certainly aspired to be part of it.

I have performed at Brighton Festival before with another of my shows (Ear Trumpet) and I loved the audiences, so it’s great to be part of it through Caravan.

Why did you decide to apply for the 2018 caravan showcase?

Caravan is really well known in the industry and is a very highly regarded showcase so I was keen to apply. I also felt that Cloudscapes is very much the right piece. Caravan is about new contemporary performance and with Cloudscapes, I’m trying something different – asking the audience to lie back and gaze at the sky with me. I think that Caravan likes to champion work which is built on bold ideas and artists doing something a bit different.

I often take my initial inspiration from landscape (usually my own Dorset landscape and coastline) and I’m very interested finding the human scale in talking about the Earth’s processes. Cloudscapes is about just how international our skies are – how clouds cycle the planet, so the theme of the piece feels appropriate for the Caravan showcase.

3How was the process of applying to caravan?

Thankfully really, really straightforward. I think that the questions asked were clear and helped me to think about why an International audience might be interested in the work.

What do you hope to gain from being part of the 3 day caravan showcase?

Basically – I’d love to make some new friends.

I’m really keen to meet new people who might be interested in my work and to create new International relationships for Gobbledegook Theatre. I see every place we tour to as a collaboration of sorts and I really like building creative relationships with programmers.

We brought Ear Trumpet to South Korea for the Seoul Street Arts Festival late last year (supported by the Platform 4: UK programme run by Xtrax) and it gave me a wonderful taste of working with audiences beyond the UK. That programme has helped us to start building a network of International festival contacts, which we’re keen to keep expanding. In South Korea we worked with the presenting festival to rehearse two locally-based performers into the work – which was a hugely rewarding experience for all of us.

It’s also worth saying that simply being part of Caravan is really exciting in itself – that we’ve been selected to perform at the showcase feels like a huge vote of confidence in our work.

What are you most excited about?

I genuinely love meeting new people and new audiences. Gobbledegook make work which really values the intimacy between performer and audience member and I try to meet every member of the audience at the end of this show. I’m excited about this in every location I work in.4

What do you think the biggest challenge will be?

Cloudscapes is mainly a monologue – so much of it rests on my shoulders, but as the visual are supplied by the changing sky above us I hope that the clouds put on a good show!

Will you try and attend other performances while at caravan? If so what would you like to see?

I’d love to see brilliant Vic Melody’s piece, Ugly Chief, which has had rave reviews, as well as Palmyra. Vic Llewellyn and Kid Carpet will definitely be brilliant as they are both ace performers. I love Stopgap’s work, it’s always inventive and of really high quality and Dave Toole is one of my favourite performers in the world. I used to watch Ursula Martinez at Duckie club nights in the Vauxhall Tavern in the late 90s and she’s a bit of a hero. Sleepdogs are presenting, and I’m a huge fan of theirs…. Oh then there’s Jo Bannon , Milk Presents and Third Angel all of whom make exciting, bold clever work… Actually, can I just say, all of it. Everyone. I’m honestly thrilled to be in such good company.

With not long left till caravan what will you be doing in the run up to prepare?

I’m actually already in preparation. I’m working at the 101 Creation Space in Newbury at the moment, spending the week re-painting the Cloud Trailer, re-rehearsing and making sure that the work is ready for touring. I’ve also got a ‘warm up gig’ on the weekend before I come to Brighton in Dorset (where I live) as Cloudscapes is being performed as part of the BEAF Festival at Boscombe Pier.

I’ve also been talking with Andrew Jones and Gary Hills who are mentoring me through the Caravan process.

5Why should everyone come and watch cloudscapes?

I think Cloudscapes is a very different kind of theatrical experience. It’s a novel thing – to be asked to stop for 45 minutes and lay down and look up and listen. To simply focus on the troposphere and a voice. As adults we’re not often invited to just, well…. stop.

Lots of people have said Cloudscapes has reminded them of being children again, that it’s relaxed them, that they’ve learnt something, or thought about something differently. That’s very powerful to me. Heidi and I (artist Heidi Steller who has been my main collaborator on this project) have made a gentle, careful piece about a subject I find extraordinary, and at times quite scary. It’s a very personal piece too – very heartfelt for both of us.

If you could tour cloudscapes to another country where do you think it would fit nicely?

I’d particularly love to bring it to the land of the long white cloud: New Zealand. Or Australia. Or Canada. I was at the Oerol Festival a few years ago in the Netherlands and still dream about those huge skies. I think Cloudscapes works really well near to water and it was originally performed on a beach, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t work well in an urban cityscape on top of a building.

Some of the stories I tell in the show are about my Dad and I driving the Route 66 together, cloudspotting across America – so it’d be grand to take it to Chicago or California or somewhere along the route like Santa Fe….!

10 questions with Robert Durbin of brave folk

Brave folk is a Nordic tale fizzing with humour about love, courage and knowing when to act. The company of five has recently finished their tour in which they performed in 22 venues across the UK.  We caught up with Robert Durbin and asked him about his experience being on tour and being a part of Brave Folk.


Q1.  Brave Folk originally toured as Yorgjin Oxo, how was it stepping back into the rehearsal room knowing changes would be made to make it Brave Folk?

Exciting! I loved our Yorgjin Oxo tour last year, but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to revisit a project. It was nice to know that we weren’t hashing out the same show, but rehearsing with care, and trying to making it a better show – which I’m confident we have done. Also, it’s always nice getting back in rehearsal room with lots of familiar faces, and some new ones.

Q2. How do you think touring to village halls and venues differs from performing in a theatre?FM2

I think the main difference is that you are stepping into someone else’s community, with an audience that usually knows each-other quite well – so the company is very much the outsider!

It’s amazing how different audiences can be, depending on where you are in the country. You have trouble gauging that in a normal theatre set up. It’s so much more intimate and engaging rather than sitting back in the stalls watching a musical on the west end!


Q3. What challenges have you/the company faced during this tour?

The snow! Although, it did give us a few days to explore Newcastle, which was lovely!

Q4: What is your favourite memory from the tour?

Doing the show in a church in Cheshire. There are lots of religious images in the play,and to do it in that setting was really special.Apart from that, it’s a great bunch of people in the cast and I love getting to the pub with all of them after the show.


Q5: What was your biggest challenge in making Yorgjin come alive?

I actually think I have the easiest job in the cast with a huge amount of text and opportunity to really engage with the audience and make them warm to Yorgjin. He’s a funny, loveable dim-wit that falls from one unfortunate scenario to another, so I guess the challenge is keeping the audience listening so that they are totally rooting for Yorgjin at the end of the play. I also struggle with harmonies…


Q6:  What advice would you give to an actor about to start their first rural tour?

Make sure you are comfy, and take a little pleasure with you from home – I always tour with my slippers!

I think the biggest thing to say is take advantage of being paid to tour the country – go and see the sights in your time off. It’s a great opportunity to see parts of the country you may not necessarily find yourself in. Get yourself out of your digs and go explore – Netflix can always wait until later

Q7: What do you like about going on tour with Farnham Maltings?

On tour

They really take care of you. The tour always makes sense in terms of where you are going to next, without having to travel long distances after shows. They make sure you are comfortable and if there are any problems with digs or a venue they are usually on hand to help out. It can’t be stated enough how this is an exception in this industry!

Gavin always chooses the most interesting and appropriate pieces for a Village Hall context, and he’s not afraid to challenge the audience with a different type of show, or subject matter. However saying that, the audience always have an uplifting experience.

Q8: Where did you stay whilst on tour and what did you do?

It ranges from Travelodge’s and BnB’s, to self-catering and every now and then you get hosted by some lovely audience members. It’s always good when you get a mix of accommodation!

Last year we stayed in Galashiels with two members of the audience and had great evening working through their whiskey collection. The show the next day was perhaps a little slower than normal.


setupsmallQ9: What is the best feedback you’ve heard and how has that impacted you/the company?

Brave Folk is a unique experience, the audience are arranged around tables in the room and we tell the story in and amongst them. They are greeted at the door and given Marshlander tea, and ‘squelch crumpets’ before the start of the evening and are made to feel as though they are as part of the action as us. It’s very intimate and immediate.

The best feedback is when people appreciate this change from the usual form of theatre – and it surprises them in a nice way.

One lady in Cheshire was really positive about the show and was amazed how we ‘created so much, from so little.’ I think that really sums up what we are trying to do with Brave Folk, so that was brilliant to hear.

Q10: What is the highlight of your days when on tour and what makes an extra special evening?YO 12

The best days are when you don’t have to drive too far, you’ve had a good night’s sleep, the promoter is lovely and welcoming and the get-in is quick and easy – and the organisers provide some great food (which is most of the time).

I think the best evenings are when you have a large audience, who have had a few drinks and know each other. Everyone relaxes and warms into the show a bit quicker, and you get that little buzz from the audience reactions. Also, it’s always nice when you have a few children in the audience too – and if you keep their attention or make them laugh, you know you’ve done well.


Click here for remaining tour dates.


manwatching: q&a with Stephen Carlin

MANWATCHING, presented by The Royal Court and house on tour during spring 2018, explores an anonymous woman’s view of her heterosexual relationships and female sexuality. Each performance of the play is delivered by a different male comedian, none of whom has ever seen or read the play before the moment of stepping on stage.

On 09 February 2018, at the Farnham Maltings, comedian Stephen Carlin was the brave volunteer…

Stephen, why did you agree to take on the MANWATCHING challenge?Karla Gowlett
It was something I hadn’t done before and I always think it is important to get out of your comfort zone. There is also the “dare yourself to do something scary” element. Probably what got me into stand-up comedy in the first place.

What had you heard – if anything – about the piece?
All I knew was that I would be reading the part of a woman talking about her sexual fantasies. And I knew the names of some of the performers who had already taken part in it.  Apart from that I had very little idea about the format or the content of the work and I wanted to keep myself in a state of ignorance. I thought the worst thing would be to half know about it and then try and anticipate how to play it. I felt a blank sheet in my head was far better than half knowledge.

What preparation did you do for the day?
I deliberately didn’t make any. I didn’t think there were any practical preparations I could make, so I decide to keep myself busy with other things. I met up with friends in the morning and I spent the afternoon working on some writing projects. If I didn’t distract myself I would have fretted away the day.

How did you feel in the moment of stepping up on stage; and then halfway through?Karla Gowlett
I have learned over the years to marshal my adrenaline with care. There is no point getting too nervous for an unknown quantity. And this was definitely an unknown quantity. So at the moment of stepping onto stage I was in a no man’s land. I felt uneasy but I wouldn’t say nervous exactly as I couldn’t quantify the challenge ahead. But at this moment I felt a certain freedom, like a condemned man! By halfway through I had a far greater idea of what was required so at that stage I felt the full weight of responsibility and I was also aware of concentrating very hard to try and land every line.

What quality does a stand-up comedian lend to the performance?
A certain resilience and nerve under fire. Over the years in stand-up comedy you get into some pretty tight scrapes and full-on confrontations on occasions. I didn’t think anything in MANWATCHING would get that heated so I assumed that I would be able to cope with whatever was thrown at me.

How did your relationship to the audience differ from your usual shows?
Well I wasn’t in control of the script for starters. In stand-up I am trying to achieve a certain kind of effect and I will select material, vary the performance and ad-lib to try and achieve the desired effect. In stand-up I always have a destination in mind and I am prepared to change routes to get there. MANWATCHING turned all that on its head. I was committed to the route, ie the script, but not the destination. I had no idea where I was heading and also it wasn’t really any of my business. So there was a definite surrender of control which for a stand-up is unusual and uncomfortable.

-®helenmurray Manwatching Royal Court,-3What are your thoughts on the anonymity of the writer?
It certainly stopped me Googling her (I assume it is a ‘her’!) and finding out about her other work. On the one hand the anonymity of the writer added to the overall mystery of the project. But it also strips away preconceptions about age, race, class etc, and you are just left with the words to focus on. So I think the anonymity of the writer lent the words a very powerful impact.

Without giving away too much, what advice would you pass on to the next comedian?
Throw yourself into it, commit to it, enjoy it, don’t worry.

How did you feel in the hours after the performance?
I felt a real mix of emotions. It was a very unique experience. As a performer you are at the centre of the maelstrom. But there is another part of you enjoying the play as an audience hearing it for the first time. There is a strong sense of wanting to do it again. Because inevitably you screw certain bits up and you want another go to do the script justice. The script moves you emotionally particularly as you have never heard it before. Also because you are a man speaking from the point of view of a woman, you realise the negative impact men can have on the lives of women, and that you as a man have been part of that. So it brings into focus the consequences of your own actions in a pretty powerful way. There is also being part of a one-off shared experience with everyone else in the room that will never be repeated. A sense of pride at being involved in a great project. A feeling that, after reading the script, as a fellow writer I need to up my game. A wanting to do it again to remember more of the detail. And simultaneously not being able to quite put into words when people ask you how it was!

February 2018 © Stephen Carlin/house/Farnham Maltings
Photos courtesy of Stephen Carlin

MANWATCHING, presented by the Royal Court and house is on tour from 08 to 24 February 2018

Reviews for Brilliance by Farnham Maltings Company


From 19th October – 17th December, Farnham Maltings Company brought their show Brilliance to village halls all over the UK. Written by Kevin Dyer and directed by Gavin Stride, Brilliance was a celebration of our ability to connect and find the light in a bright new world. Here are what some audience members thought:

“So worth coming out on a cold, dark Sunday evening!”

Audience member, Norton Village Hall

“Going home with a lighter, warmer heart.”

Audience member, Thursley Village Hall

“You’ve brought something very special to our village hall.  I was drawn into their world with emotion, laughter and tears and captivating music!”

Audience member, Whaddon Village Hall

Well done to all involved! 

To find out more about the show visit http://theatre.farnhammaltings.com/portfolio/brilliance/. 


Reviews for Ugly Chief by Victoria Melody

Earlier this month Victoria Melody and her dad (celebrity TV antique dealer, Mike Melody) performed their new show Ugly Chief at Battersea Arts Centre and received some absolutely fantastic reviews. Here are some of the highlights:

“Messy, moving and funny. Exposes the fractures in families we often avoid expressing while we’re alive.” ★★★★The Times

“A ridiculously enjoyable show. Of course we love it.” ★★★★The Guardian

“Fascinating, beautiful and utterly human” ★★★★Time Out

“An off-piste comic treat.” ★★★★Whats On Stage

“Extremely funny and wonderfully strange.” ★★★★ The Stage

“Staggeringly beautiful” Exuent Magazine

“Witty and spirited” ★★★★★ London Theatre1

Touring plans for 2018 will be announced shortly.

 To find out more about the show visit www.theatre.farnhammaltings.com/ugly-chief and www.victoriamelody.com



Haevichi Arts Festival in Korea

As part of Farnham Maltings’ international strand of work, artistic director Gavin Stride and tour associate Mark Makin attended the 10th Haevichi Arts Festival on the island of Jeju, South Korea.

Gavin Stride and I had the pleasure of being invited to the 10th Haevichi Arts Festival on the island of Jeju, South Korea. The trip was a wonderful way to learn more about the arts infrastructure in Korea, get a better understanding of the artists and cultural needs of colleagues.

The showcase element of the festival was delivered in short, bitesize chunks, which was great for the amount of work we got to see, but we were keen to see them in a more theatrical environment so we could best imagine the full-length work. The work on show was very traditional music, dance and operetta which felt very well placed for a local Korean market but less so for international export.

Gav and I co-delivered an informal introduction to the UK arts scene covering touring infrastructure, programming, audience development and sustainable venue and festival management. I was happy to be able to dispel one of the main myths in Korea around the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (primarily being that if you take a show there, you find fame and fortune!). We were able to give the pros and the cons of visiting the major UK and European festivals and shared how best to get every opportunity out of visiting them.

We enjoyed the opportunities to get off site to go and explore, connect with local people and enjoy the cuisine (very tasty, with the occasional issue that some of our food would try to leave the plate mid-meal).

We got to spend a day exploring Jeju City, visited its expansive food market which was a feast for both eyes and bellies. Whilst walking in the main park we found ourselves included and involved with several groups of elders engaging in activities including croquet, dancing and extremely vocal games of what we believe to be Chinese chequers. Lots of fun and the language barrier didn’t matter as with gesticulation, smiles and laughter we all were able to enjoy the moment and be included for a short time in the daily activities of a very close knit group of friends.

The trip was a great opportunity to connect with companies already scheduled to be at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as well as broaden our knowledge of the arts in Korea. We found a real appetite and willingness to openly share experiences and working practices and we look forward to some of these new relationships building in the future.

Mark Makin, touring associate, house

Farnham Maltings are acting as Executive Producers on the performance strand of a year-long exchange programme between the UK and South Korea. The programme includes projects by LIFT, Crying Out Loud, Momsori Voice Theatre and Ray Lee, a tour of Factory Girls by Yangson Project and a series of collaborative residencies.


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