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Posts tagged ‘Producing’

Celebrating Disruption – Article from the Mystery Plays Programme

First published in the York Mystery Plays 2014 programme…
‘For too long we’ve been too apologetic’ … This was the frame of mind I was in when we started planning our route through the city and the playing stations for the 2014 Mystery Plays.

In my early years as event producer I was often approached to ‘help make things happen’, this request came often from projects facing objections, and in a position of limited resources and with complications that meant i had to carefully balance the needs and aspirations of the project with the potential impact on the location and the (often reluctant) stakeholders involved.

Now that i’m a lot older and a little bit wiser I find myself becoming a little bit more ‘bullish’ about the importance of certain projects balanced against the minor disruptions that they cause – in some cases, like the Mystery Plays, I even feel that perhaps we should be celebrating that ‘disruption’.

York mystery plays come in many formats, they are not ‘owned’ by anybody but by the same measure are owned by everybody.

In 2012 a new large-scale staging of the plays took place in the modern tradition and context in the museum gardens. That concentration of activity and the scale brought visual spectacle and impact, though there was nothing to see beyond the bound of the museum gardens a buzz resonating around the city – something significant was happening. Something that everyone had a stake in.

The medieval tradition of the plays on the wagons being celebrated this year – is a certainly a more ‘distributed’ approach in its planning and preparation and in its final realisation – The effort and the energy put into producing plays happens behind closed doors in schools, the university, church halls, farmers barn and in unusual uncharted corners of the city – wherever people can find space to rehearse their scene and build their set. A ‘community of communities’ bringing forth the plays.

There is no pomp and ceremony in the months in the running-up to the plays, no yellow bikes lining routes or knitted bunting hanging in the trees – but on the day, the tens of thousands of people that engage with the pageantry of the plays as the move from location to location or that sit and watch at the playing stations are seeing something unique – something that not only that makes York distinctive and engaging as a tourist experience, but also speaks of the commitment and enthusiasm of the communities in York – which makes it a compelling place to live and to work.

In the last year we’ve seen the city centre of York in upheaval as major ‘essential works’ were carried out securing gas supplies for the city – Roads were closed, areas cordoned off and peoples work and life inconvenienced, but it passed and life carried on as normal.

It is probably glib to make the comparison and to say that the opportunity to engage in a city wide civic expression of our cultural heritage and our creative distinctiveness is as important as a reliable and safe gas mains supply – but it could be argued that the as York Cycle of Mystery Plays capture peoples hearts and minds, embedded as part of the fabric of the city – the disruption caused by these ‘essential works’ is a small price to pay.

 

Ben Pugh – 13/07/2014

The new Purple Guide is now online

Event organisers will be (or at least should be) very familiar with the Purple Guide – it has provided guidance across a range of subjects from crowd management to fireworks, medical provision to waste management, and so on, since 1993.

Over the last couple of years the HSE have undergone consultation with industry practitioners and have together drawn up a new version.

The new Purple Guide is available now (in draft) online:

**UPDATE – the draft version online is closed now ** (01/2014)

www.thepurpleguide.co.uk 

From the site:

“The Purple Guide to Health, Safety and Welfare at Music and Other Events (Draft) has been drawn up by the Events Industry Forum in consultation with the UK events industry, including representatives from regional and national Government. This publication is designed to replace the original ‘Purple Guide’ (HSG195) which was originally published by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) in consultation with the industry.

 Covering both legislation and good practice, this new guide has been designed to sign-post event organisers and suppliers to the practices and issues that need to be considered when events are being organised. The contents are not designed to be prescriptive and those using this guidance should undertake appropriate risk assessments and evaluations to evaluate the specific requirements of the specific events they are organising or involved with.”

Illuminating York 2013 – Call for new works

The Illuminating York Committee have just issued the call for works for the 2013 festival.

If you are interested take a look at the downloads below.

There is one call for major commissions and one for smaller works.

IY 2013 Supporting Commissions

IY 2013 Major Commission

In a nutshell:

DEADLINE: 1 March 2013

Introduction: Illuminating York is a cutting edge light based Festival which has been running annually, in the City of York, for the last nine years. During that time the Festival has commissioned major international works for the Minster, Museum Gardens and other sites within the city walls. Previously commissioned artists include Patrice Warrener, Paul Kaiser (Open Ended Group), Usman Haque, Bright White, United VJs, OMA International, Vic Reeves, GaiaNova and Ross Ashton amongst others.

In recent years the Festival has attracted between 20,000 – 75,000 visitors, residents and tourists per year and brought over £1 million annual economic benefit into the city.

The Festival has enjoyed a broad range of media coverage over the years and reaches all corners of the globe from Canada to Australia and Europe. In 2012 the Festival introduced a small charge for audiences to view the main commission and with an 80-100% capacity each night, we intend to continue this model for parts of the Festival in 2013.

The theme of this year’s Festival is ‘Illuminating the Past, Enlightening the Future.’ It is 1000 years since King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ of Denmark was named king of England in 1013. Incoming communities and cultures have played an important role in the development of York as a City. York has deep and strong links to its Viking heritage in particular and the waves of invasions that York has experienced over the years, which has created a vibrant city with a rich and varied culture.

We are interested in artwork that investigates the Scandinavian influences on York’s heritage and on the city today. This could be through art, clothing, food, technology, people and politics or other cultural interventions.

Several of our key attractions are planning exhibitions and events that celebrate this aspect of our history and culture and you may like to consider incorporating some time for research and development in your expression of interest.

We are in the process of applying for funding for the 2013 Festival and the Festival will take place from 30th October – 2nd November inclusive.

Artworks will also be expected to be fully operational for the press launch on Tuesday 29th October.

We are interested in small to medium-scale outdoor work that shows York in a new light.

The work must be visually appealing to audiences of all ages. We are looking for several supporting commissions that together, will achieve regional and national press coverage for the city.

‘The History Man’ – from The Stage newspaper

In the briefest moment of something falling between vanity and self promotion, i thought i’d share this article with you that was first published in The Stage newspaper on 16th of August 2012. It sheds a bit of light on what i spent a good chunk of the summer doing and Kevin frames my role and my approach in very positive terms too!

The venue for York Mystery Plays 2012 is the city’s museum gardens. Kevin Berry speaks to event manager Ben Pugh about overcoming difficulties with building a theatre in the round on an archaeological site.

“On site there was nothing – other than a very beautiful setting,” says Ben Pugh. “Everything had to come in from scratch and we have erected a state of the art, 1,400-seat venue on a sensitive historical site”

The site is York Museum Gardens and the venue he mentions will stage the York Mystery Plays throughout August. York Theatre Royal, Riding Lights Theatre Company and York Museums Trust are producing the plays with support from York Council.

The Theatre Royal production team has vast experience in working off site, with The Railway Children at the National Railway Museum, and is substantially reconfiguring its traditional auditorium to create a theatre in the round for summer seasons.

Pugh is the event manager for the Mystery Plays charged with supervising the erection of what amounts to an actual theatre on a site governed by the severest constraints. No digging allowed – “We can’t touch the monument” – and certainly no access for articulated trucks. Over 300 tons of scaffolding was off-loaded outside York and then shuttled in on smaller vehicles.

York Museum Gardens is a public park used by 10,000 people every day during the summer, and Pugh and his team have had to close off a third of that space. In the garden’s ten acres there is a protected English Heritage monument (the Benedictine St Mary’s Abbey), a busy museum and botanical gardens.

The sheer enormity of the task faced by Pugh’s team becomes apparent as he continues talking. It is difficult to take in. Getting the number of people involved, nearly 2,000 community players, and managing them, even in these days of mobile phones and emails, has been quite a challenge. The genial Pugh, who appears to take everything in his stride, suggests “thinking of the usual theatrical process and then times it by 2,000”

Have the vehicles been churning up the ground? After all, York has had its share of rain in recent weeks.

“We have a three metre-wide metal track way running from the road to the stage site,” Pugh says. “The gateway is part of the scheduled monument and is three metres wide. We’ve had to be very steady, coordinated and careful. We needed the track to guard against the weather, and also there’s a lot of buried archaeology just under the surface. While many events this year have been undone by the weather, we’ve been fine on this site.”

In the theatre there is a one foot rise between each row of seats and everyone will have a good view, plus there is a roof over the audience. The theatre is already two metres off the ground so there is a substantial sub-stage area for actors and staff to come up through trap doors and use rising stairways. Pugh emphasises that his team has had to build an entire venue: dressing rooms, toilet blocks, putting in water pipes, indeed all of the infrastructure needed in the theatre.

“We are presenting ourselves with a whole load of practical and logistical challenges to give ourselves that creative freedom in the space,” says Pugh. “We have been keen to get the community involved and that has brought forth amazing creative energy.”

He talks of a fusion of techniques and approaches and the sharing of them. Members of the community who may be painters and decorators coming in to paint the scenery, people who go to embroidery class once a week helping with costumes.

“We’re working with Star Events Group and they’re re-engineered their seating principles to enable us to have a fluid, flexible theatre space,” Pugh explains. “They’ve never built on a site like this. We asked them for a whole load of things to make it a theatre – such as entrance ways and tunnels and things they wouldn’t normally do.”

Getting into the site and setting up has taken a month. Getting out will take three weeks, a time scale that Pugh has insisted on.

“I’ve been able to persuade English Heritage and the Museums Trust that giving us more time to do it, steadily and carefully, will reduce the chance of anything happening,” he says, “The worst case scenario is people going in there mob-handed and trying too hard and doing things way too quickly.”

That will not happen with Pugh in charge. A York resident for nearly 15 years he is aware of what the Mystery Plays mean to the people of his city. They are deeply embedded in the city’s culture.

We had been speaking in the week leading up to the premiere. “People on the site have been saying how relaxed I look,” he said, smiling. “So it must be going well.”

York Mystery Plays run until august 27. The plays will be streamed live over the internet via The Space, the digital arts media service, thanks to Pilot Theatre and ACE funding.

Thanks Kevin!!

Mind the Gap head out to the moors

Months and months of planning are coming together for Jez Colborne and the team at Mind the Gap this week (21-23 June 2012) as Irresistible takes place at the Cow and Calf quarry. I’ve been supporting this project as the creative producer and, without bias i can say that it promises to be a great event (as long as the weather holds out! *bp crosses all available extremities*)

If you’ve not booked yet take a look at – http://www.mind-the-gap.org.uk/irresistible/

Irresistible is a symphony of sirens set within the rural beauty of the Cow & Calf on Ilkley Moor. It’s a large-scale musical experience that combines warning sirens and choral music with projections on rock faces and dramatic lighting to create a breathtaking and once-in-a-life-time experience.

Featuring a cast of more than 30 actors and musicians, Irresistible includes seven new songs inspired not only by sirens but by blues, country, rap and hip hop. It promises to be a musical mix that will tell a story through music, movement, drama and light.

We did an R&D showing back in October of 2010 which wowed the culture team from the Olympics so we get to take the show down to the National Theatre, South Bank Centre and the Liberty Festival in September too – watch out for news on these dates.

Hope to see you in Ilkley!

Raghu Dixit performs for the Queen –

It’s been an exciting time recently for Raghu Dixit.

A few weeks ago he performed live in front of The Queen at Windsor Castle. He sang his song Mysore Se Ayi, surrounded by a troupe of dancers from Bangalore, the dance company owned and choreographed by Raghu’s wife, Mayuri Upadhya

On Sunday 3rd of June – ITV broadcast this spectacular pageant from 6-30pm to 8-30pm:

All the Queen’s Horses: A Diamond Jubilee Special

Alan Titchmarsh hosts a spectacular pageant in the grounds of Windsor Castle featuring horses and performers from around the world, including the New South Wales Mounted Police and the Marwari Horses of India. Dame Helen Mirren, Rolf Harris, Omid Djalili, Sanjeev Bhaskar and other stars of stage and screen represent the different continents. The horses are accompanied by live music from some of the world’s biggest stars including Susan Boyle, Joss Stone, Il Divo, Raghu Dixit and violinist David Garrett. The show also includes rare archive footage of the Queen during her sixty-year reign.

Raghu has just played his first concerts of the season in Europe (Holland and Germany) and now embarks on a summer run of UK festivals.

You can listen and download Raghu’s latest release ‘Unplugged (Live in York)’ below:

Unplugged (Live in York) – Raghu Dixit

or on Amazon if you prefer:

Raghu Dixit: Unplugged (Live in York)

(also on 90 other online stores in 240 countries!)

Enjoy!

‘what was the raghu dixit track sung on the andrew marr show on 15 april 2012?’

Turns out that one of the key search engine terms pointing people towards my website at the moment is:

‘what was the raghu dixit track sung on the andrew marr show on 15 april 2012?’

So i thought i’d better answer the question!

Raghu sang ‘I’m in Mumbai waiting for a miracle’ – From the Album Antaragni – The Fire Within (iTunes link).

If you enjoyed Raghu’s performance on the Andrew Marr show you can watch it again here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-17720101 (BBC web link)

and you might like to have a look / listen to the EP we recorded together last summer at the National Centre for Early Music in York.

You can read more about the project here

or you can download the live EP from iTunes – Unplugged (Live in York) – Raghu Dixit

If you are in london you might like to come down to the South Bank Centre for Raghu’s concert with members of Bellowhead as part of the Alchemy Festival.

Digital Identity in Interesting Spaces

I’m collaborating with Abhay Adhikari to bring his Digital Identity seminars to Yorkshire with a focus on those working in creative industries / culture / arts / heritage / museums etc.

The seminars take place on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd of May at the National Centre for Early Music in York (click the links for more info):

Strategic development for the arts, culture and heritage sectors

Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Suitable for: producers, directors, curators and senior management

Campaigning and visibility for the arts, culture and heritage sectors

Wednesday, 2 May 2012
Suitable for: marketing and communications teams

Finding your audience and collaborators online

Thursday, 3 May 2012
Suitable for: individual practitioners and community led organisations 

 

Abhay has done a great post on his blog about the project so far in it’s different manifestations:

The Digital Identities in Interesting Spaces project has been running for close to eight months. The first round of commissions and activities are now complete and new ones are about to begin. This is a fairly exciting period as the scope of activities is widening in scale and participation. This post provides a brief snapshot of the work carried out so far. I have also outlined plans for the next quarter.

Read more now…

 

Hope to see you in York in May?

 

Exciting news from Raghu Dixit

I’ve just received the following press release from Raghu’s team – though it was definitely worth sharing!

Raghu Dixit Announces Live ITV Queens Diamond Jubilee Performance!

“Quite literally, the world is Raghu’s oyster” – Rolling Stone, India

“a debut solo album of swaggering confidence” – Songlines

“international stardom seems assured” – Evening Standard

2012 is shaping up to be another remarkable chapter in the Raghu Dixit story. Completely unknown in the UK when his first album was released here in 2010 – he’s now set to perform for – and meet, The Queen!

Raghu will perform crowd favourite Mysore Se Ayi on ‘All The Queens Horses: A Diamond Jubilee Special’ at Windsor Castle on 13 May with the concert being aired on ITV in early June, also starring Joss Stone, Il Divo and Susan Boyle.

In his own words: “I’m ecstatic to be performing with such a brilliant constellation of popular artists from various parts of the world representing our different cultures”.

Raghu Dixit also releases his new EP “Unplugged – Live In York”. Recorded last summer with his band The Raghu Dixit Project in a stunning medieval church in York. It’s an intimate, largely acoustic affair in which Raghu permeates his extraordinary vocal prowess with intricate guitar work.

The EP includes “No Man Will Ever Love You Like I Do”, the song that transformed his career when he performed it live on Later… With Jools Holland back in 2009 to an audience including fellow-guests Adele, Robert Plant and Arcade Fire, who all showed their appreciation. Following transmission Raghu topped the iTunes’ World Music chart in Britain and he’s now India’s highest-selling non-Bollywood domestic artist.

Raghu sings with pure unbridled elation, his music and vocals are powerfully uplifting and a real awakener to the senses. He’s arguably unrivalled in this sense and you need only check his Jools performance to experience this yourself – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBnpKyHiAn8

As if all that wasn’t enough; Raghu will appear on the The Andrew Marr Show (BBC1) on April 15th

2012 Festival and Tour Dates Announced:

April 14th OneFest Marlborough
April 18th/19th Alchemy Festival, Southbank Centre, London
June 2nd Bushstock, London
June 9th Salisbury Festival
June 13th Birmingham Town Hall
June 22nd Solas Festival, Scotland
June 24th Brighton Dome
July 15th Larmer Tree Festival
July 27th Cambridge Folk Festival
July 28th WOMAD
July 29th Milton Keynes International Festival
August 18th Beautiful Days
 
www.raghudixit.com

www.facebook.com/theraghudixitproject

For media enquiries please contact:
ben@benallenmedia.com
+44 7884 368168
+44 203 397 0947

Omar Puente

If it is not enough that one of the Raghu Dixit: unplugged  tracks is included on the free cover CD – Songlines Magazine have given us another good reason to buy this month with a great little feature on Yorkshire’s own Omar Puente.

The brilliant Cuban jazz violinist has made his home in Bradford and he talks in the article about the great diversity in the region’s music scene. He even gets in a little plug for the Bradford Mela.

You can find the magazine via their website:  Songlines Magazine

And listen to Omar’s latest release on iTunes: From There to Here – Omar Puente