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Lockdown diary – week three: virtual Supper Club, a marathon effort, and iPads for our Dementia and Creativity group!

Lockdown diary – week three: virtual Supper Club, a marathon effort, and iPads for our Dementia and Creativity group!

4th May 2020

We hope you are staying safe and well. We’re back to (hopefully) cheer your spirits a little, with our latest weekly update.

We continue to be in awe of the incredible efforts of key workers and volunteers during this time – many of whom we’re proud to call audience members. We are indebted to everyone helping to get the country through this crisis and we thank you.

This week, we find out how the team at New Vic-led arts programme Appetite have been inspiring and supporting local artists and communities, and share some exciting news for our Dementia and Creativity group!

An update from our Artistic Director…

“Getting out of the office to see colleagues across the country always presents a challenge, but now that we have all discovered Zoom we are discovering a new level of connectivity which I think will stay with us.  I’ve been meeting with industry colleagues in London, New York and across the UK, including our partners the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Bolton Octagon, Hull Truck and the RSC.  It is inspiring to hear about the ingenuity and commitment the theatre industry is applying to delivering engagement during this lockdown; and to be part of discussions about the exciting projects we are developing to share with you in the future.”

New Vic artistic director Theresa Heskins

An update from Appetite…

Our Appetite team have been busy making sure our communities in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme know where they can access arts and culture whilst at home. The team have been curating and sharing a daily ‘menu’ – #CultureHomeCooked – of fantastic online performances and exhibitions which can be enjoyed from the sofa, as well as sharing ideas for keeping busy on Facebook too.

This week Appetite hosted its first online Supper Club with members from across the region, sharing the cultural things they have been up to at home, and having uplifting conversations about ideas for arts in our county in the future. They have also been supporting local artists with one-to-one online mentoring sessions and an Artist Support Hub to help steer them through these challenging times. They are looking forward to hosting an Appetite Lockdown Quiz with the volunteer team very soon too!

Appetite’s ‘virtual’ Supper Club

Emergency fund provides iPads for our Dementia and Creativity group!

One of the hardest things our Education team have had to do during this difficult time is postpone outreach groups for older vulnerable adults. The Dementia and Creativity group had been meeting regularly at The Quarter café in Hanley and the sessions had become a central part of everyone’s week. Since isolation measures were put in place, Kate Buttolph, the musician and composer we were working with on the project, has been wonderful and continued to edit the CD that the group were making to share with them, while we made sure to keep in touch by phone. But because of the range of health needs, some members really miss the face to face sessions.

So we are delighted that thanks to an emergency fund released by Staffordshire Community Foundation £1,000 has been made available to us to purchase iPads for the group to use, to help bring us together virtually –and allow us to set up new activities. We are very grateful for this support as we want to make sure that the current situation is about physical distancing, rather than ‘social isolation’.

Talking of our Education department, this week we’ve put the Spotlight On… Head of Education Jill Rezzano and Youth Theatre Director Kat Hughes. They share some insights into their jobs and discuss how they have adapted how we are interacting with our participants during the lockdown.

In other news…

New Vic Catering Manager Rachel Lloyd ran 106 laps ‘round’ Kingsfield Oval in Stoke – equivalent to marathon-distance – on Sunday, raising almost £2,000 for NHS Charities Together! Well done Rachel!

New Vic catering manager Rachel Lloyd

Stay positive – this week why not… Tune into Trentham Gardens’ website and take a virtual tour of their stunning Spring Bulb Festival? Full of beautiful plants and flowers, we promise it’ll help brighten up your day and remind you what a glorious place we live!

The National Theatre has released its hit production of Frankenstein, directed by Danny Boyle and starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, on YouTube. Cumberbatch and Miller alternate the role of the ‘creature’ and you can choose which version to watch (or watch them both!). Find both on the National Theatre YouTube channel here (available one week from their first broadcast).

We can’t wait to welcome you back through our door as soon as we are able to. Until next week, take care and stay safe!

Article by Becky Loton

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