Inspiring Communities – Light up the North Conference Session

Learning, Participation and Community Engagement can sometimes be an afterthought of artistic planning, but working with and involving the local community can create and result in really exciting and innovative artwork, as well as having a meaningful and lasting impact on the individuals which take part.

Light Festivals are a growing in popularity and a lot of cities and towns are using the medium of light to bring in tourism and encourage their audiences to see their locality in a new way. Many light festivals encourage their audiences to not only come and see the event but also to take part, and even create the artwork.

How can you work with and encourage your local community to take part or in creating the artwork? How do you reach out to local communities and encourage new audiences? How do you create a programme of work which is meaningful and has a positive effect on local communities? How will Covid change the way we work with communities?

In this session the speakers will discuss their approach to working with the local community, talk through case studies and answer questions on how to work with communities.

Speakers include:

  • Louise Dennison – Producer for Artichoke
  • Kylie Lloyd – Community Arts Manager for Durham County Council
  • Philip Holmes – Creative Director for Lightpool Festival, Blackpool
  • Hannah Jane-Walker – Writer/ Performer/ Creative Practitioner

The session is for artists, producers, local authorities and festival/event organisers who are interested in how community engagement through art in the public realm, with a focus on light art can connect with local audiences and community groups. Speakers will discuss methodology, aims and give examples of projects and events which encourage participation, develop skills and extend the festival’s reach.

Attendees will get an insight into how different festivals approach community engagement as well as hearing from artists and producers who specialise in participatory artwork. Which will hopefully spark conversation, debate and some ideas for attendees to take on into their own festivals and events.

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Louise Dennison – Producer for Artichoke

Louise is a producer with extensive experience of developing and producing learning and participation events, projects and programmes, working in a variety of arts organisations and across artforms. She is currently Producer at Artichoke with responsibility for the learning and community engagement programme and producing large scale outdoor events and festivals including Lumiere Durham, Lumiere London and PROCESSIONS. Artichoke specialises in producing high profile, unique, large scale outdoor arts and culture events which are enjoyed by millions of people both nationally and internationally.

She previously worked as the Head of Learning & Participation at live music promotors Serious, delivering a year-round national music Learning & Participation programme and producing live events such as EFG London Jazz Festival.

Prior to this Louise worked for Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts encouraging schools in disadvantaged areas to engage with arts organisations across the UK. She also produced the Participation & Engagement programme at Norfolk & Norwich Festival, increasing the opportunities for audiences across Norfolk to attend events engage with artists, performances and participate as part of the artistic programme.

Kylie Lloyd – Community Arts Manager for Durham County Council

Kylie Lloyd is Community Arts Manager for Durham County Council.  Her role is about connecting communities to cultural engagement programmes, with the overarching mission that every person living in County Durham has the opportunity to participate in the arts. She joined Durham County Council in 2017.  Prior to that she was Director of Participation for Northern Stage theatre company in Newcastle.  She was founding director of a community interest company, TapRoot, working on socially engaged projects in the North East and South Africa.  She has also worked as a freelance project manager, including work with; Northumberland Music Festivals, Dodgy Clutch theatre company and Northern Cultural Skills Partnership.  She has a degree in Social Anthropology from University of Manchester and a post graduate diploma in Cultural Management from University of Northumbria.

Philip Holmes – Creative Director for Lightpool Festival, Blackpool

Philip is an award-winning artistic and creative director with over 25 years of experience developing, implementing and directing his creative concepts.

Philip is a multidisciplinary creative based in Lytham St Annes, UK, with 25 years experience as operations director for several cultural venues in Blackpool.

Philip joined Lightpool Festival in 2016 to deliver the innovative and award-winning inaugural festival, was producer for Light Odyssey and Lightpool Festival 2018, and is currently Creative Director for Lightpool Festival, Blackpool.

As Creative Director for Lightpool Festival, he develops a diverse and innovative programme that catapults Blackpool’s town centre and glittering Golden Mile into 15 nights of pure exhilarating magic.

Combining spectacular live performance, tailor-made art pieces and installations by national and international artists, as well as community workshops and interactive public engagement, the Lightpool Festival showcases historic landmarks, iconic attractions and heritage buildings in a stunning and visionary new light; taking the legendary resort of Blackpool into the realms of light fantastic fantasy like never experienced before!

Hannah Jane-Walker – Writer/ Performer/ Creative Practitioner

Writer and performer from Essex. Artist in residence at Addenbrookes Hospital 2020-2021. Associate Artist National Centre for Writing 2018-2019, Cambridge Junction – ongoing. Debuted poetry collection published by Nine Arches Press May 2020. I work with theatre maker Chris Thorpe to create interactive poetry theatre shows. Creating ‘This is Just to Say’ (toured the UK, premiered at Forest Fringe Edinburgh 2009) ‘The Oh Fuck Moment’ (winning a Fringe First Edinburgh 2011, translated into Portuguese, Greek, Italian. Published by Oberon. 150 tour dates to date -Germany, Portugal, Canada. Selected by British Council for showcase plat du jour)  ‘I Wish I Was Lonely’ (toured UK, Brazil, Australia, published by Oberon selected for British Council showcase plat du jour) Solo, as a performance poet, I have toured work around the UK, Australia, China (Port Eliot, Latitude, Women of the World Festival, Southbank Centre, Edinburgh International Book Festival, FLUPP Brazil’s favela literature festival.)

Recently I created my first solo stage show ‘Highly Sensitive’ (premiered Norfolk and Norwich Festival, toured to Roundhouse, Colchester Arts Centre, Cambridge Junction and developed into a BBC Radio 4 documentary, supported by Arts Council and National Centre for Writing)

I am a creative facilitator, over 15 years’ experience running workshops with groups (British Council, Poetry Society, Kettles Yard). Prior to freelancing worked in creative education and outreach for Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Apples and Snakes, Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

Most recently I have begun collaborating with community groups and large scale outdoor visual artists to create text based installations: Mill Road Iron Works – Jo Chapman – collaborated with members of mental health support group to create text for bronze sculpture in new council housing development. Artichoke Lumiere Festival 2019, collaborated with female residents from Low Newton Prison for a permanent text installation on Durham library. Addenbrookes Cambridge Biomedical Campus, collaborating with researchers to create non-permanent text installations exploring their work.

This session is part of Why Light – The Future of Light Festivals. Join us for the third Light Up the North conference being held online on Weds 9 and Thurs 10 December.

If you’re a festival producer, event manager, artist, practitioner, curator, local authority, funder or other organisation interested in light art festivals then this conference is for you.

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