Written by Senior Producer Lisa Mallaghan, May 2016
Following conversations with venue programming, marketing and local companies, it was decided that the key focus for CONTAINED: The Conversations at The Albany would be ‘Excellence in Learning Disability Live Performance’.
The London location of the venue, and the concentration of a number of London based professional learning disability companies, lent itself to The Albany being an ideal central opportunity for them to come together and share their work.
Through conversation with Heart n Soul, Spare Tyre and Access All Areas it became apparent (and surprising) that there is not currently a strong network between London based learning disability companies. The Albany, in partnership with Mind the Gap, wanted to create an environment where the companies could come together, meet, share and play.
Aligning the event to happen at the end of Heart n Soul’s Allsorts – a weekly drop in opportunity for people with learning disabilities to engage in creative arts – provided an ideal opportunity to reach individual aspiring artists as well as attracting professional companies.
We created an event called Tea & Trailers:
“A fun and friendly afternoon where you can share your work / plans / projects / ideas that show the brilliant diversity of disability arts, and work by disabled people. Tea & Trailers is open to anyone; maybe we can start a revolution, with biscuits.”
Access All Areas, London
Heart n Soul’s Allsorts, Deptford
Magpie Dance, Bromley
Spare Tyre, Deptford
Under the Stars, Sheffield
Vital Xposure, Hackney
Plus a number of other independent artists and arts professionals.
Over 80 attendees, ranging from people who have trained, worked and toured in the LD Arts sector for many years, through to someone who had engaged in the arts for the very first time that day.
The floor was ‘open to anyone’ to share their art. The event began with professional companies and high quality performances, which helped to set the tone. Contributions ranged from pre- prepared presentations, to sharing films of work, to poetry readings, beatbox, solo and group dances and more. Leading to a spontaneous group dance at the end of the event, followed by cake!
The atmosphere was supportive and celebratory, a beautiful coming together of people and companies with a joint cause: to share and highlight excellence in learning disability live performance.
The event was ably MC’d by learning disabled Mind the Gap Student, Paul Wilshaw. He has since been approached by other companies to MC their events.
Conversations are ongoing between Mind the Gap and all the companies who attended to explore how we might continue coming together – including receiving each others work, workshop exchanges, attending as audiences to each others shows, and sharing expertise.
Continued engagement with Goldsmiths University through 2 fantastic student volunteers.
Almost 100% of attendees to Tea and Trailers converted to audiences for CONTAINED.
“It was a real pleasure to be there. The work of Mind the Gap’s artists and of your partner companies was excellent. It was even greater to be part of such an enthusiastic audience, the atmosphere was lovely and a real testimony to the success of your work. Let us know if you organise more events like this and if you think Vital Xposure could take part we would be delighted to.” – Emilia, Teglia Vital Xposure
“DJ did such a good job of talking about our work (of course), and he mentioned our most recent performance at the British Museum… I really loved Contained, and almost as much as the show itself, I enjoyed how much Corali dancers – DJ, Jackie, and Bethan enjoyed it. It would be so wonderful to formalise that connection at some point in the future and get together to exchange practise. Perhaps there is a way for us to plot for that to happen?” – Sarah Archdeacon, Corali
And other companies are still telling us they’re sad they missed it!:
“We were gutted not to be able to make it down to any of the events at The Albany in March. Bad timing with us being in Brighton that week with It’s My Move.” – Kat Gill, Blink Dance Theatre
“Thank you for your invitation to Tea and Trailers. I am afraid at the moment it does not look like anybody from Freewheelers will be able to get there, however we are grateful to be invited – please do keep us on your lists as we’d love to know about any similar events you are hosting in the future.” – Jenni Halton, Freewheelers Theatre Company