ARCADE... the story so far
Updated: Feb 17
If you prefer to listen to this blog, click on player below.
Hello I'm Rach
And I’m Sophie
and together we are Co-Directors of ARCADE, a community producing company based here in Scarborough.
And this is our very first blog. We'd like to take the moment to introduce ourselves, and ARCADE, to you.
We're going to answer a couple of questions that people have asked us that we thought might be interesting.
So first questions for us Rach, Let’s introduce ourselves.
Okay. So I trained, originally, as a Theatre Director. But I've had a really varied career across culture, worked in libraries and museums and festivals, and my most recent job was running a large scale media arts festival. I am really excited however to move back to working with communities, and especially to working here in Scarborough, which is where I live. And, and I, yeah, can't wait to get cracking with it, really.
Thank you. I'm a newcomer to Scarborough: I moved here about two years ago, from London where I used to live. In London, I worked at Battersea Arts Centre, which is a community and arts venue in South London and I had the privilege of having lots of different experiences; from making shows with artists like Kate Tempest, to working with the Battersea Arts Centre Beatbox Academy, to working with primary schools, families... I had a really brilliant kind of creative education there. Moving to Scarborough, I’m now a Mum, I’ve got a little toddler, called Wallace, and I really want to work where I live, and make creative things happen in my community and get to know my neighbours and my community in the work that I do, rather than, sort of, commute away to Leeds or Manchester. And so yeah, like Rach, I'm really excited to get going with making brilliant things happen here, where I now live.
Hey. Sophie, one of the things people always ask us is how we met.
I know, like we are in a relationship. An art relationship. (laughs)
So, the first bit of freelance work that I got actually in Scarborough, I was taking a role that Rachael had done. And through, like, our hand over conversations, we just realised that we had loads in common, we had the same values and passion around working with young people and communities and wanting to make like brilliant things happen here. So we sort of, we really gelled around the excitement of the potential for what we can do here.
Would you say that's right, Rach?
Yeah, I think so, yeah. We've been working on ARCADE for over a year now and and you know, we've, we've come a long way in that time so yes it's all really exciting. Next question...
It’s ‘tell us about ARCADE, what are you about, and what's your mission?’
Okay. Our mission, we've we've toyed with it and tweaked it and I think we will continue to toy with and tweak it and change it, depending on the people that we work with and how we how we get on with it... but our, our mission is to make incredible cultural experiences happen with artists and communities, here in Scarborough.
To support our community to develop their own creative ideas and their own creativity.
And to collaborate - be that with organisations, or with community members - to make community lead change happen, using the arts.
We're going to try and do all that through creative projects, workshops, shows, festivals and events in Scarborough, and across the UK.
Yeh, that’s sort of what we are all about really, isn’t it? Hopefully that’s a down to earth mission, so people can understand what we're banging on about. A couple of people have asked me Rach; what's it been like setting up a new company in lockdown?
Ohh, it's been exciting hasn't it? Um, we've been really fortunate because we've had just loads and loads of support. Along the way, really, so people like CaVCA, and the SJT, SMT sorry, I'm using too many acronyms; Coast and Vale Community Action, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough Museums Trust, North Yorkshire Libraries, who have all been great and partnered with us on setting up projects. We are really excited to keep working with them. Sophie's had a Developing Your Creative Practice bid from the Arts Council, as well as the COAST group (which is a Scarborough Borough cultural organisations group), and then loads of other individual community workers, artists, friends, officers at the council that I've badgered, people have been really welcoming to us. So it's had its challenges, but we've been really, really lucky and fortunate to have met, and to know, such brilliant people here.
We’ve been setting up the company really, as you mentioned before Rach, for like, the last year and a half. So we've done a lot of getting out and talking to people and meeting people before lockdown, and actually, although lockdown has been really hard and challenging and difficult for a lot of the arts sector financially, it's given us a bit of focused time, with less distractions, to really motor on with all of the company set up, incorporating, putting together a Sounding Board and really getting infrastructure in place, so there's been some silver linings to lockdown I’d say.
It has meant that a lot of our projects have had to be put on hold until next year so we're really itching to kind of now get going again, working with people.
Yeah. And we should probably just say that we are really excited about our Sounding Board, and we've got some really amazing people. You can see them on our website on the ‘About Us’ page, we've got some great support.
And we are hoping that our Sounding Board members will, over the next year, write some short blogs about what they do, and the incredible work that they do, and also what it's like being on the sounding board of an arts organisation and like, what that could look like, as we are quite open to that it not being the traditional board model. So, I should move us on to the next question, this is a big one. ‘What are our hopes and dreams for the company?’
Oft, that is a big one. I guess I would really like us to feel like we are embedded part of the fabric of what makes Scarborough, Scarborough. And I would like people to know who we are and what we do and feel like what we do is valuable to them. ‘cause I think that that's our whole purpose really, if we're just working on our own, and not doing anything that's important to anybody, then that's really the point. What do you think? What are your hopes and dreams?
No, I love that, you said that so brilliantly. I agree, really, I hope that we can have a really rich few years of research and development where we design our programme for the next 10 years, but not just on our own in an office, with a real range of people, children, young people, teachers, people working in third sector, people really anchored here who know Scarborough better than us, although Rach you grew up nearby so you know it super well.
And I hope that we also make some incredible shows together, with our community as well, that are just really extraordinary, brilliant experiences that wouldn't be here if we weren't here. So let’s hope we can make those things happen.
So Sophie, my favourite question! ‘What is a Community Producer?’
Good question! Yes we call ARCADE a ‘community producing company’, and we're really aware that that probably doesn't mean much to anyone. And even when I've asked my friend who's a producer on the West End, ‘what, what do you actually do?’, they're like, ‘I'm not really sure’, because being a Producer can mean different things to different people.
For me, and I think we share this Rach, being a producer is somebody who's like, facilitating and enabling creative ideas to happen. It's really, you know, someone who is very collective, very collaborative and knows how to fundraise and project manage and knows how to get the best out of people and bring different people together. And I suppose when we add the word community to it we're sort of saying we're not just going to do that in an arts context but we're going to think about, as arts producers, how our skills and our experiences and the artists that we know can contribute to making positive change happen in the community. So we're a bit of a, sort of, hybrid new breed I think we're still working out how that works in reality. Does that make any sense?
Total sense. You nailed that, that was great!
Ok so we are on the last two questions, this is an easy one; Rach, ‘why did we call the company ARCADE?’
I don't think that is an easy one! (laughs) I don’t know, we were trying to think of something that was really, coastal rooted and Scarborough rooted and something that, pulls together a lot of things that are a lot of fun but that mean a different thing to different people. You think of an arcade and you think of somewhere that's fun and exciting and it's different colours, there's loads of different people in it, playing different games - less about the gambling (laughs)
Yeah, we’re not about the gambling.
It’s also a really defining feature of Scarborough's architecture. Like, we have so many cool arcades on South Bay and for a lot of people, you think Scarborough, or like any seaside town really, you think 2p machines and flashing lights of the arcades in the evening.
Cool. So the final question that we've got there, Soph I think we've probably answered it a little bit but ‘What are we excited about?’
Well I think, coming up, you can check out the details on our website [click HERE for website], but next year, in 2021 - that's right, isn't it? 2021?
We've got our debut projects, one is called Wardrobes, which is an immersive theatre adventure that's gonna happen in four primary schools, and two libraries in Scarborough, for hundreds of children. It’s wacky and crazy and involves time travellers and magic bookcase wardrobe props and it's going to be very exciting, but it's also going to support teachers to deliver learning in the classroom in a really creative way. [click HERE for more on Wardrobes]
And the other big project we've got coming up next year is Scarborough Stories.
Yeah sure. So Scarborough Stories is gonna be a year long, story-telling, story-gathering, chatting to people and hearing about stuff they hate, stuff they love, stuff that makes them angry, stuff that makes them happy, and that's all based around Scarborough. And then that is going to be turned into a bit of a performance, which is going to be on the High Street in Scarborough. It might be in empty shops, it might be in the front garden, it might be in a little park space. And that'll be a community cast, so we're really excited to meet those people and to hear what people of Scarborough think is important, and make work about that. [click HERE for more on Scarborough Stories]
We'll be working with all the brilliant supporters that we mentioned before, the Stephen Joesph Theatre, CaVCA and local artists, local community members and probably, yeah, other partners too. So it'll be a real joint effort and a real chance to sort of test working with people in new ways. So yeah, I'm just basically excited for next year. Excited for getting out of lockdown and getting out there and making some of this work happen together. And if you are listening if you'd like to be a part of any of these projects, and our emails are on the website. We are really open to people getting in touch - the more the merrier, please drop us a line. I think that's all the questions!
Yeah, this was our first audio blog, we might decide never to do one again (laughs!), but we’ll sign off from now.