Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Back once again...

(img. by Brandon Christopher Warren)

Well hello there sports fans, we’re back again.

So I know we’ve hardly been gone long, but DOES IT EVER FEEL LIKE IT.

It’s been a busy, dizzying, breathtaking few months and we’re still trying to figure out quite what to do about it all. First off – thank you to everyone who has supported us or congratulated us or has just been pleased for us in winning the Peter Brook Empty Space Award. We listened to the lovely things Dominic Cavendish had to say and shook Peter Brook by his wrinkly and surprisingly small hand and couldn’t quite believe it was all happening. But happen it did and that encouragement (and the £2000 that accompanied it) have been a huge help in the plans we’ve been working away on since then.

Oh and what plans.

Best way of thinking about it is to imagine we’ve been squirreled away in some subterranean laboratory from the golden years of Hollywood, pouring coloured liquids into other coloured liquids and plugging wires into frogs until eventually in at the end of an ever-accelerating montage of experiments something has crawled off the Petri dish and wandered out into the world. We meanwhile, appear blinking into the sunlight trying to figure out where our creature has gone.

But now it’s out there. It’s roaming the streets stealing apples from market stalls and trying to understand this thing they call love. So we figured that we would tell you all about it, before anybody else did.

The Forest Fringe Microfestivals

So Edinburgh has been a wonder the last few years. A truly delirious journey. We’ve learnt so much from the people we’ve worked with and the successes (and failures) that we’ve had about how to create an environment of risk and generosity that can really nurture and support exciting new projects of all forms and sizes. We’ve been able to bring together a brilliant community of artists who collectively make work as exciting as anywhere in the country. And we’ve been able to generate a level of profile for those artists and those ways of working which felt like a really valuable opportunity.

We wanted to do something with that opportunity. To explore something new. To find a way of taking everything that was exciting and vital about Forest Fringe in Edinburgh and showing that it needn’t remain in Edinburgh. That the kind of messy, creative hub that developed there could be re-imagined in numerous other sites and contexts.

And so cue the coloured liquids and the smoke and the Petri dishes and the arguments and the experiments and finally we’ve just about figured out what it is we’re doing. And we called it a Microfestival – a model for a new kind of event, somewhere between a festival and a tour and a scratch night and a gathering.

With this Microfestival model, we wanted to be able:

  1. To create a different context and a new kind of space for artists to try out new ideas and show unusual work – one-on-one encounters, audio walks, video installations, interventions, happenings. In other words, hopefully almost anything that someone might come up with.

  2. To visit different parts of the country and meet new audiences and artists who couldn’t or wouldn’t come to Edinburgh. To have the opportunity to introduce those people to the kind of work that we love and invite them to become a part of the Forest Fringe community.

  3. To explore new spaces. Or to find new ways of using old spaces. To repurpose and reimagine them for what we want to do.

  4. To create an event that can act as a gathering point for artists, audiences and producers in different parts of the country. A chance to come together – so that we can learn from them and they can learn from us. To create a spark from which new ideas and new projects can spring.

Which is all lovely obviously but wouldn’t mean anything unless we could actually figure out how we were going to do this. How to invite an audience to experience all these events in a space that didn’t feel crowded or confusing but similarly didn’t leave you queuing constantly outside closed doors or just wondering numbly from piece to piece. How to create a Minifestival that, like our home in Edinburgh, is built around artists coming together to create an event that has value for them beyond a commission or a fee; where artists dictate how and when and why they want to be involved. And how to find new spaces to work in new parts of the country – figuring out where the right place to go is and why.

So that’s where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing. And now comes the part where we actually do it, which is undoubtedly the most exciting part. In the next post we’ll explain in more detail exactly where we’ll be and when and a few of the people who’ll be there with us, but if you have any thoughts about any of the above please do put them in the comments – it’s all always massively useful.

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