Emerge Cannock Chase! The story so far...

by Victoria Pritchard (The Mighty Creatives)

Working on Emerge so far has been as challenging, interesting and exciting as I was hoping it would be! The role has given me opportunities to work with community partners, plan communications and marketing strategies and put together a budget, all of which I have not done before as a lead artist. It's been a great opportunity to work in a new area and meet new community leaders, artists and event organisers from different backgrounds. I feel as though I am always learning and I'm looking forward to the rest of the challenges and learning opportunities ahead of me.

The time has flown by so fast and I can't believe that we only have two sessions remaining before we break up for Christmas! Looking back on what we have achieved so far, I really do feel that Emerge Cannock Chase is shaping up to be a very special event. It's important to highlight that when I say 'we', I mean the work of the whole Cannock Chase team at both the Library and Museum Lab. One of the best experiences so far has been getting to work with such an enthusiastic and experienced team that say yes(!) to all of mine and, most importantly, the young people's ideas. It is because of this teamwork that we are in such a good position to move forward into the second stage of our festival planning. We now have a strong sense of what our festival will look and feel like on the day which is so important and is beginning to resonate with a lot of the young people, especially those who did the project last year. Our marketing and design ideas for the festival are coming together nicely and we are just awaiting our official budget approval to get going with our more ambitious design ideas.

Meeting the fantastic young people in Cannock Chase has really been a pleasure and the biggest highlight of the Emerge journey. All 50 million of them (it feels like)! Our recruitment has gone fantastically well and both labs have two strong, creative and enthusiastic young people with wonderful ideas for this year's festival. Ideas like, Shakespeare sports day, Interactive photo booths, art competitions, pop-up characters and performances just a few of the concepts inspired by our Shakespeare work! Every session we are getting new and exciting creative offerings from the young people. This is fantastic and means that January and February may involve a lot of editing and focused work as, unfortunately, we don't have two years to put this festival together! I think the biggest surprise, and joy, of the project so far has been how easily and quickly the young people in both labs have taken to the Shakespeare/War of the Roses theme. I had initial concerns that it would be a hard-sell, but the young people have really taken the themes and ran with them. I'm hoping that we can delve deeper into Shakespeares language next term and really see if we can get even more depth and enthusiasm for Shakespeare by the end of the project.

The final element of Emerge Cannock Chase that has been really exciting is the support from the local Council. Outside of the labs and our community partners, we are also very fortunate to be receiving great support from Cannock Council who are partnering with us on the festival day. This means we will also have an artisan craft fayre and a good fayre running alongside our artistic and community offerings. This has all been possibly because of the continued work of our Lab partners over the last year and the success of last year's festival. It feels as though Emerge Cannock Chase is really beginning to get momentum now and I can't wait to see what the next stage holds!