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Updated: Nov 19, 2019
At the moment working on a new idea for a festival of new/emerging drama performance The Liverpool Edge Festival.
So far we have a 9 day festival around induction/freshers week around Friday 18th Saturday 26th September with a hub at LJMU Drama on Hope St and Pilgrim Street.
In the current climate there are obvious challenges for entering full time education and a career in the performing arts. Education policy means there are now fewer young people being encouraged to study the arts and humnaities. Current arts funding policy means that traditional starter venues for emerging companies have had to focus on the few, reduce, or drop their local open access policy, concentrating on touring work and relatively few incubator projects. So entering theatre as a local start-up or graduate company is more challenging than ever.
Undeterred, we have found in Liverpool and at John Moores Drama that our graduate artists and other across the city and North West have not only continued to form their own companies and collectives but are developing a healthy underground/alternative scene. Funded by their bar/service industry jobs they are creating warehouse/pub theatre, discrete cabaret nights in clubs, pop up projects, stand-up and unplugged acoustic gigs across the city – and studio theatre shows when they can afford it. Even small studio venues charge £350 - £400 a night and have their own curation/access policies to meet before they will alllow use of the venue. As ever when mainstream cultural providers are proving difficult to work with, access, penetrate a counter-culture has been and continues to spring up. Independent artists are finding their own outlets.
A group of our graduates, called The Liverpool Arts Society taken over the lease in the masonic building on Hope Street and opened it as the Liverpool Arts Bar, with a permanent mini stage set up for music and spoken word and a converted cellar for rehearsals/ studio performance.
In short, what we are seeing is the kind of creative spirit, will and drive that set up the original Everyman Theatre in a run-down Liverpool city centre building and the half dozen or so of student companies that formed the original Edinburgh Fringe in a few spaces at Edinburgh Uni.
The established and experienced arts institutions and artists know only too well both the responsibility and value of keeping a healthy and productive theatrical scene alive with potential, for entry, exposure and progression. We now need to lend a hand and help give this creative energy in the city a focus and platform. The Liverpool Edge Festival will be for new and emerging artists who are producing new work and open to all students, graduates and developing artists who are not. It will also encourage edgy, current, discursive, minority voice and progressive work. It aims to take place near the end of September during University induction/freshers’ week when the city has all its students returning and the theatres are launching their new seasons. Our partner theatres in the city have already pleged support.
The call for participants will go out nationally/internationally and we have already had interest from outside the city. Applications from non-established or unknown companies will require a letter of recommendation/reference from a college/university tutor or industry professional. More information to follow.