Blog #2 'Community Connections and Creating Opportunities'

by Aaron Belcher (The Mighty Creatives)



Blog#2
Update:
Emerge Dudley is starting to really shape up, we now have our venue booked, concepts of pieces are secured, and we know what direction they are needing to head and as a result all that is to do with them is rehearse! Some of our pieces are nearly complete, we hope in the next few weeks they will be finished, meaning the rest of our rehearsals can be spent polishing and showcasing to the general public the talent these young people have to offer.
This year seems to be engaging the young people's ideas even more than before, they have all taken an active approach in the decision making on what we have on at the festival. Having done the festival at Haden Hill last year makes the logistics on how the festival runs this year much smoother.
We have now sent out multiple commissions to engage the local population, we have a paid call out for a host/compere or drag queen and those who apply will have the opportunity to be invited to an audition where they will showcase what it is they can do to a panellist of young people. This is giving the young people a brilliant opportunity to really start critically analysing performance and delivery in an audition and interview process which in turn will help with their own evaluation of their performance, other people in their group or content which is being displayed at the festival itself. This is a really good skill to have, it allows them to consider what they can do better in order to push themselves further and succeed – this isn't just a quality which is useful in the arts but all walks of life, whether it's improving a business, improving on their educational journey through school, college and university or simple as a person and their relationships they build with people.
Other commissions include a call out for Volunteers at any stage of their creative career who would love to showcase what is it they have, as long as it has a connection to Shakespeare. This is giving individuals or groups extra promotion of their work or simply to test things out on an audience. We are hoping that this will engage other youth groups or amateur groups in the area.
Another is a call out for Independent businesses who can set up their own stand and put their goods on sale. The position is free and does not cost them to have a stand at the festival, they will apply and inform us what type of business they are and why they would love to be apart of the festival. We hope this will attract more people to the festival thus exposing a wider audience to the quality pieces that the young people have to offer, expose them to Shakespeare and help people in the local area build bigger, better and stronger connections. This also in turn allows the audience members to explore more at the festival and if they are waiting for a particular performance or want a break from the creative explosion that will undoubtably blow their minds then visiting the market stalls will do just that.
Our final call out is to local schools. We believe engaging more of a younger audience will hopefully attract their parents and relatives and in turn bring an even bigger audience. This call out is for the students to design their own shield – templates will be provided and sent to the schools – for them to submit to the festival. The deadline for submission is the two weeks before, this means that we can then decorate the space around the festival with the large number of shields we have, creating a much more immersive experience and gives a personal approach to it by having the young people noticing that their work is being displayed for all to see. This call out is also a competition, there will be a panellist who will judge all the shields and part way through the festival the winners will be announced and as a result there will be a prize for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. By doing this we hope it encourages more to take part and shine by having an incentive attached to it.
I feel our main overarching goal, is to inspire and encourage the young people to take an active role in engaging their communities to keep this idea of celebration alive and we hope all of these call outs really bolster connections between different people, groups and organisations to keep this sense of community thriving. We want to ensure that the legacy of emerge lives on, whether it's a continuation of what it currently is, or just simply the continuation of the concept; creating a free, engaging festival or celebration for the locals to come and see or take part in.

Emerge Dudley Resident Artist Aaron Belcher