Suzy from Thanet visited Darlington

Posted on Friday 9 October

Re-posted from www.loopingtheloopfestival.org.uk
See the original post from 5 October 2015 at  www.loopingtheloopfestival.org.uk/blog/thoughts-from-darlington

Lopping Thanet logo

Looping the Loop isn’t only a local consortium here in Thanet; it’s also part of a national network of towns and cities (well, theatre producers in those towns) all clustered around the hub of Battersea Arts Centre. This autumn we are all producing our 5th festival. This time we got out on the road to visit our sister festivals.

Suzy smiles almost always.

Suzy smiles almost always. Photo by Rich Kenworthy.

I went to the Jabberwocky Market festival in Darlington this weekend, 3 & 4 October, just before our festival begins on 9 October. A slightly tense time, when all is to play for and I was worried about losing two days. But it’s great getting out and reinvigorating your thoughts and obsessions…

Caroline Pearce runs Jabberwocky Market and Looping the Loop felt her set up was closest to our own; she has an unfunded organisation, with no network of formal support from local authority, Arts Council (ACE) or others. Jabberwocky sits alone as a festival, it’s not wrapped into a larger existing event.

I saw four events on Saturday and one on Sunday. Here’s the programme if you’re interested. They couldn’t be more varied: a northern beat DJ and 2 actors; a jazz band in the library with a sea of tiny children; This Is How We Die, a loud, biting, demanding piece we had last season at the Tom Thumb; the post-show talk in the nightclub venue and on Sunday, coffee & croissants over a discussion on the nature of ‘world class’, with speakers including the ever-inspiring David Jubb from BAC, Arts Council and local businessman.

I came away happy, not only with Jabberwocky but also with Looping the Loop; it’s easy to compare other work and feel you’re failing yourself but that wasn’t the case. I could see similar issues, new ideas (some of which we will steal!) and just different approaches to the mission. Here’s the specifics I’ve taken away:

  • Burbank Street Brass Band

    Kids Gigs was a successful new project nurtured by Jabberwocky Market. Photo by Rich Kenworthy.

    The jazz band – we’ve not regularly brought in shows outside of local producers’ or BAC shows. It’s used here as a simple way to increase the amount going on and to have work that you’re not having to organise totally yourselves, you bring in the finished product. Jabberwocky did it several times.​

  • Promoting the next show at the end of the one you’re watching. Obvious. Go and see…. Easy to forget. ​
  • Badges. We need badges!
  • Local businesses and getting them involved. Caroline (rents) a space above BePremiere, a salon in the main shopping area of town. It’s her office and the salon became a town centre home for the festival, and venue for the Sunday discussion. The owner is a successful local businessman and this opens up conversations that it’s hard to get to have otherwise, interesting businesses in a small, growing festival. ​
  • What’s On signboard. Just like Edinburgh – post up reviews, info about shows, stick it outside the venues. We need one!
  • Jabbervan. We loved it when Caroline talked about it, it would be perfect for linking up our three towns and villages of Thanet. Anything interesting on wheels that we can use…?

Separately, there were some great words used and things popping out of discussions. I want to remember:
​’You need to be local to be global’
Are you doing what you do for the art or for the place, regeneration, another reason?
‘Oil in the wheels’ – it’s not just the work itself that makes it ‘world class’ it’s what’s around it.
‘I wouldn’t go if I knew I’d like everything…’ Bill from ACE on Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival
‘Scratch [a process] allows us to make mistakes together’
‘There’s a dark side to world-class, look at Volkswagen…’
‘Who are the storytellers? We are our own storytellers…’
‘…the value of art…can it really be about persuading people to go to restaurants?’

Suzy Humphries
Producer & Trustee, Ramsgate Arts”