Emerge Festival Tamworth by Siobhan

by Emerge Festival (2018)

Tamworth is now in its second year of Emerge and we have some fantastic groups from year one involved again. For our community LAB we're working with the wonderful people at Fired Up Theatre again, to run groups with Phoenix Youth Theatre and Upbeat Dance, who both produced great performances for last year's festival. Working with two good sized existing groups means our community recruitment has been fairly simple. We're also continuing to work with Landau Forte Sixth Form Academy as our school LAB, although this year we have expanded the programme to included lower school students from QEMS as well. We have had some initial issues with recruitment here which I think is mainly down to the extensive commitment most students already have to other extra curricular activities. We have a small but brilliantly enthusiastic core group and are planning a second recruitment push once the school musical is over as students have more free time.

Organising workshop timings has been challenging as the young people and staff in both our school and community LABs have so many other commitments to shows, competitions, exams which we have to be mindful of. I have been very fortunate in having fantastically enthusiastic LAB staff who really see the value of Emerge and have worked hard to organise workshop times and are encouraging the young people to generate some fantastic ideas.

This year the Emerge festival with be part of Tamworth's St. George's Day festival which attracts thousands of visitors every year. Whilst the St. George's Day event has a children's area, until this year it hasn't had a stage dedicated to artistic work produced by local young people. The creation of an Emerge area not only gives us the opportunity to reach a much larger and more varied audience, it also helps Tamworth create a youth platform at one of their largest events, which will hopefully be sustained in years to come. The Tamworth local authority are fully onboard and are being very supportive, Laura Patrick who is working closely with us.

Emerge has already helped me develop my artistic practise even in these early stages. I'm learning so much about what it takes to put on large scale events and the amount of planning involved! Before working on this project the majority of my workshop leading experience had been from working with adults so it's been great to be able to work with younger groups and have that different experience. So far I have run a variety of taster sessions for all the groups we are working with, focusing on us all getting to know each other and trying out different artistic practices. Despite some initial reservation, the groups are all engaging fantastically with Shakespeare and are already creating their own artistic pieces from re-enacting the War of the Roses through "diss" tracks and political satire, to choreography dances inspired by A Midsummer Nights Dream. The next step is for the LABs to decide what kinds of performances they want to create for the festival and begin developing them.