Exeter Northcott Theatre invites you to an online discussion

Next Tuesday 8th June, Exeter’s Northcott Theatre presents a free online discussion event of particular interest to the theatre’s audiences and those who live in Exeter and the surrounding Devon area.

Entitled “Considering Representation and ‘Voice'”, the event invites an experienced panel of cultural and arts experts to look at the stories that have been discovered in the Northcott Theatre’s archive and discuss how this knowledge can be used to shape the future culture of Exeter and the South West.

The questions they plan to explore are:

Whose stories have been told? Who is telling them? And where are the gaps? The theatre’s archive reveals some attempts at telling stories about people with diverse heritages – as well as attempts to address the lack of representation of arts practitioners and communities with diverse heritages including African diaspora people, South, East and South East Asian diaspora people, and recent immigrants to Exeter and Devon.

How have these stories been told and presented? Who is the voice behind the communication and promotion of these works and what role do they have in the way ethnically diverse people’s stories are told? The way the theatre’s programme is shared and received is documented in detail in the archive through material such as press cuttings, which provide an insight into the viewpoints and interpretations that have been promoted historically.

The role of theatre in addressing diversity and inclusion has also been acknowledged but is generally low on the agenda. So how do we present and showcase difficult parts of history? Where is the line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation? And can theatre entertainment be effective as education/activism?

Finally, how does some of the material in the archives link with themes/concerns today? And how can we equip researchers and audiences moving forward to create positive change?

The free online event takes place at 7.00pm and you can register to watch the event here

Watch an engrossing Cultural Conversation around technology in the arts…

On Monday, 24th May, between 5.00 and 6.30pm BST, Alderman William Russell, The Lord Mayor of the City of London and the Genesis Foundation invited us to join the fourth in the series of Cultural Conversations: ‘Culture, Technology and Innovation’ taking place online.

This Cultural Conversation is part of a series of focused debates around Arts and Culture in the City of London. This fourth Conversation, the first of the 2021 season is chaired by Farah Nayeri, in conversation with Javaad Alipoor, Artistic Director, Javaad Alipoor Company; Daniel Birnbaum, Artistic Director, Acute Art; Sarah Ellis, Director Digital Development, Royal Shakespeare Company; Suhair Khan, Strategic Projects, Google; and Rich Waterworth, General Manager UK & EU, TikTok.

AFTERWORD – This was a really worthwhile and engrossing discussion attended by an audience of over 300. If you haven’t seen it, here’s your opportunity!


LGBT PRIDE MONTH EVENTS: Explore the truth behind the legend of Alan Turing in a fascinating online talk by his nephew

Image by Justin Eagleton

June is LGBT Pride Month, and June 9th is International Archive Day, so what better time to celebrate the great work of the UK National Archives? To mark the event, here’s another fascinating free online talk courtesy of the National Archive, entitled REFLECTIONS OF ALAN TURING.

World War Two code-breaker Alan Turing’s career has inspired a number of creative works, amongst them Hugh Whitemore’s stage hit of the 1980s, BREAKING THE CODE, with a memorable performance by Derek Jacobi as Turing, and again a few years ago with film THE IMITATION GAME, where Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed Turing to much acclaim.

So, by now, everyone knows the story of the code-breaker and computer science pioneer Alan Turing.

Or do they?

Our knowledge of Alan Turing has been fragmentary, and further obscured by decades of misinterpretation and misunderstanding. In this discussion these layers of super-encipherment are stripped away to disclose the real story.

Was Alan Turing actually much of a codebreaker?
What is the meaning of Alan Turing’s trial, his suicide, the Royal Pardon, the £50 note, and the film The Imitation Game?
Drawing from Alan Turing’s background, his discoveries and his life-story, this talk uncovers a fresh legacy from Alan Turing for the 21st century.

This talk is presented by Dermot Turing, author of the acclaimed biography PROF, about the life of his uncle, Alan Turing and X, Y & Z: THE REAL STORY OF HOW ENIGMA WAS BROKEN. He spent his career in the legal profession after graduating from Cambridge and Oxford, and is a trustee of Bletchley Park. He has extensive knowledge of World War II code-breaking and is a regular presenter at major cryptology events.

Presented online on Wednesday, 9 June at 7.30pm BST, the talk lasts approximately 30-40 minutes, followed by a 15 minute live Q&A and promises to give real insights into this most fascinating of men.

You can find more information and book your free tickets here

Further supporting information about the presentation:

This online talk will be presented on Microsoft Teams. You do not need a Teams account to join an event, and can select the Join anonymously option to join from your browser if preferred. If you are accessing the event from a mobile device, you will need to download the Teams app. For the best experience we recommend using either a laptop or desktop computer.

You will receive a reminder email, including a link to join in advance of the event. For more information on attending a Teams event, please visit: https://bit.ly/3hWNWwn

LGBT PRIDE MONTH EVENTS: Enjoy a free online talk on The Loves of Oscar Wilde

One of the upcoming online talks from the ever-engrossing National Archives is of interest to theatre lovers. And even better, it’s free!

“I can resist everything except temptation”.

On Fri, 4 Jun at 2.00pm BST, join award-winning author and Wilde biographer Neil McKenna as he explores the many loves of Oscar Wilde. Neil will examine Wilde’s marriage and love affairs, as well as his relationship with his artistic muse and lover, Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas, and the relationships between his loves and his writings.

Neil McKenna is an award-winning journalist and author of the acclaimed biography The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde. He was shortlisted for Writer of the Year at the Stonewall Awards 2013; and his book Fanny and Stella was shortlisted for the 2013 Green Carnation Prize.

The talk lasts approximately 30-40 minutes and is followed by a 15 minute Q&A.

You can book tickets , which are free, here

Further supporting information about the presentation:

This online talk will be presented on Microsoft Teams. You do not need a Teams account to join an event, and can select the Join anonymously option to join from your browser if preferred. If you are accessing the event from a mobile device, you will need to download the Teams app. For the best experience we recommend using either a laptop or desktop computer.

You will receive a reminder email, including a link to join in advance of the event. For more information on attending a Teams event, please visit: https://bit.ly/3hWNWwn

UK theatres save the NHS over £100million every year!

During Creativity and Wellbeing Week* last week, UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) released useful and surprising statistics showing that theatres generate an annual cost saving to the NHS of £102,234,585, by helping benefit the physical and mental health of those in their surrounding communities.

What more significant way could there be to highlight the importance of theatre and the arts in improving physical and mental wellbeing – something that is being increasingly recognised worldwide, including by the World Health Organisation and the UK Department of Health & Social Care.

Further evidence comes from an ongoing audience survey by The Old Vic, in which 93% of respondents so far have agreed -or strongly agreed- that theatre benefits their mental health and wellbeing.

Although theatre spaces have been closed throughout the pandemic, they have remained essential community hubs, providing online educational resources, interactive family events, digital productions, creative workshops and even programmes to help rehabilitate Covid sufferers – alongside the countless venues offering space, supplies and skilled volunteers to help the NHS. Further, the creative minds at work in these organisations have undergone numerous reinventions of their organisations to stay relevant and useful to their local communities- yet another example of the huge benefits of creativity to find solutions to community issues- whether practical or emotional.

Now, as lockdown eases and theatres begin the long road back, welcoming back in-person, socially distanced audiences, substantial evidence of the enormous power of theatre to enrich people’s lives physically and mentally – as well as culturally – will be a vital tool to help the government to understand that the UK’s world-leading theatre sector must be given the support it needs to survive.

The report says: “UK Theatre and SOLT calculated the figure using a 2015 report by DCMS and Simetrica, which quantifies the health benefits enjoyed by people attending a cultural or sporting activity. The report found that the NHS saves a yearly total of £11.91 for every person partaking in such an activity, from a reduction in GP visits and use of psychotherapy services.

This data was combined with UK Theatre and SOLT’s 2018 audience attendance figures (collected from nearly 300 venues nationwide), which show that over 34m people attended the theatre that year. Taking into account repeat attendance and attendance of other cultural or sporting events – and applying the DCMS and Simetrica benchmarking – the figure of £102,234,585 was reached.

This is a method previously used on a smaller scale by the leaders of HOME in Manchester, who last year calculated the theatre’s £26m economic impact on its local city from 2019 to 2020, including a £1m saving to NHS services.

Jon Gilchrist, Executive Director of HOME, said:

‘These findings show the difference the arts can make when working with their communities to support people’s health and wellbeing – highlighted by our own 2019/20 economic impact assessment, which measured the role of HOME in reducing GP visits and the use of mental health services to the effect of an incredible £1m cost saving to the NHS. Across the industry, the potential impact of this is huge, especially when theatres and cultural organisations forge partnerships to provide a range of opportunities to engage with arts and culture.’

Victoria Hume, Executive Director of the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance, said:

‘We know from a significant and growing body of international research that the arts, creativity and culture are critically important to sustaining our health, to tackling major social problems like loneliness and isolation, and to building our communities.

‘This startling statistic is yet another important piece in the puzzle, and drives home the message that we cannot dismiss the arts and culture as nice-to-haves. We know that our resilience is dramatically impacted by our ability to access our creativity and build the culture that surrounds us. This has kept many of us going through lockdown, although research also shows inequalities in cultural participation have been reinforced by Covid.

‘It will be essential to our safe recovery as a country that we invest to ensure greater equity and support the kind of forward-looking, partnership-based work this report describes.’ “

*Creativity & Wellbeing Week is an annual festival led by London Arts and Health and the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance and featuring cultural organisations and freelancers all around the UK, to celebrate the impact creativity has on our health and wellbeing.