2021 has been such a hard year in so many different ways – for everyone. In the cultural sector, we have really developed our abilities for managing change, pivoting our shows from live to online, where necessary and learning how to make things happen, even when this is in carparks, as illustrated below. We know that experiences in the arts bring joy into our lives and help us make sense of our complex times. At Lancaster Arts, we are committed to offering as many experiences as possible for many different audiences and participants – the need to make connections between us has never been more vital. We wanted to finish this year with some of our personal favourites in 2021 and here they are:
This photograph is from our launch event called Something’s Happening Here for the new Mill Race programme. It was a wonderful event taking place in a car park next to the Grand Theatre in central Lancaster. Part of what made it special was its spontaneity – things just happened unexpectedly. Here, cellist Maja Bugge hosted a series of impromptu cello lessons.
In the last year, we made events and performances happen in the most difficult of circumstances, leaving a sense of great accomplishment and pride. However, one of the quieter moments that gave me the most personal pleasure was installing the New Perspectives exhibition, particularly the Felling works by Julia Heslop – made even more powerful by Julia’s explanation of why they were made. You can find out more about this powerful work on Julia’s website here.
This photograph is of artist David Boultbee testing modified megaphones that were used by students to announce messages of love and hope from the rooftops at Lancaster University. The Beacons project happened in March 2021 and the phrase, ‘this is a message of love’, a line from the script, still repeats in my mind when I think about this uplifting project that took place at a time of collective darkness.
This is a photograph of one of the two cups in a single saucer created by artist, Layla Khoo with designs from the participants in the commission, On Belonging. The idea of the each cup was that it illustrated how the participant connected with two places and two cultures. At the end of our exhibition at King Street Studios, participants were gifted the cups that they designed.
Watching Protein Dance’s ‘May Contain Food’ from the comfort of my living room during lockdown, was a multi-sensory exploration of our relationship with food. The company asked us all to cook up a tasting menu and eat this during the online performance. Tackling serious issues such as food security, our wastefulness, as well as the rituals and shared experience of eating together was something that we were all missing. Beautiful and thought provoking at the same time.
Our UK premiere of the Erlendis Quartet from Poland was one of my highlights. To be sat in the Hall listening to these talented guitarists was a real treat. I was completely in awe and so proud that, despite the current climate, Lancaster Arts managed to get them to the UK and back safely.
This is from Something’s Happening Here that took place in September 2021, as part of our Mill Race programme. It’s ‘Fountain’ made by David Boultbee. The group of friends shown here traipsed down to the river to collect water in buckets from the actual Mill Race… where it pours out into the River Lune. They filled this fountain with the water, and are working out how to pump the water up in this picture. I love how hard the girls worked to get the fountain filled, and to get the thing going. They were really committed to it. This is one of the quieter moments by the fountain. I could have stood and watched them for hours.