Worcestershire Arts Partnership Blog

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

July 2017 Newsletter


Newsletter July 2017


National Portfolio Funding


A massive well done to our organisations who received National Portfolio Funding from the Arts Council. These are Dancefest, C&T, Live & Local, Meadow Arts and a new one Vamos. The funding is from 2018-2022 and is a major validation of the work in the County. Special congratulations to Vamos for joining the portfolio.




The summer is always a busy time for us in the county and WAP and its partners have been involved in a number of high quality arts festivals. We thought we would talk to a couple. First, we spoke to Polly Stretton from the Lit Fest&Fringe.


FOCUS ON… Lit Fest and Fringe

Tell us more about your festival?

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe—a not-for-profit volunteer organisation—has just delivered their seventh Worcestershire Literary Festival which ran for 10 days from launch night on Friday 9th June until the finale on Sunday 18th June. Fourteen programmed events took place during those ten days. Post-fest, a free Midsummer Solstice Walk on Wednesday 21st June started at Cripplegate Park, St John's and looped around Diglis to return two hours later.  

LitFest Fringe events take place throughout the year, special ‘one off’ activities around literary themes: workshops, performances, book launches, occasions like Poetry Salons, and fixtures such as Earth Hour. We have three competitions each year, Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Young Writer, and Flash Fiction, these are well supported and we commission a collection and anthologies to be created as a result. We celebrate the biggies in the literary calendar, for example: National Poetry Day, Mental Health Awareness Day. Our website: https://worcslitfest.co.uk/ will keep you up to date with happenings as will the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/worcslitfest/

The festival 'proper' was delightful, from the launch night which featured Young Writer finalists performing their amazing short stories to Flash Fiction winners reading their work leading unto the final of the seventh Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition. The winner, after three thrilling performances, was NINA LEWIS, she succeeds the (far from) outgoing Laureate, Suz Winspear, who has done remarkable work in her year and has made great partnering inroads with DanceFest as well as becoming poet-in-residence for the Museum of Royal Worcester. Our new Poet Laureate has already performed at many events as Laureate and has some wonderful plans for her year, watch this space!




Nina Lewis, taking on the Poet Laureate position from Suz Winspear



And how did it go this year?

The quality of all of our programmed events was outstanding, absolutely top quality, from our many 'home grown' performers and supporters through to the touring theatre ensemble Clown Funeral who brought Luke Kennard’s poem 'The Murderer' to life in an enthralling set in The Hive's studio space. We also brought in Radio 4’s Natalie Haynes who gave a deeply thoughtful yet funny race through the Greek classics and the ancient playwrights, tragedy AND comedy all at once, amazingly good! Gifted London based poet/performers under the umbrella of 'London Pride' did us proud, Robert Cole, 'our own' Math Jones and the stunning Keleigh Wolf mesmerised us at the Worcester Arts Workshop.


Were there any particular highlights?

As above but our many local performers such as the Worcester Writers’ Circle who put on a review of their work at Cafe Bliss were a delight, we had a trio of strong women performers, Nina Lewis, Claire Walker and Kathy Gee performing as a 'supergroup’: 30-40-60 in the studio space at The Hive. Wednesday saw the alternative genre 42Worcester night in Drummonds which featured our stunning friends The Antipoet, they just have to be seen to be disbelieved.

Our regular monthly open mic event 'SpeakEasy' moved into the Thursday slot and was a huge success; featured performer Pete (the Temp) Bearder was a revelation…

And to the finale night—two slam championships on a single night—first up the Flash Fiction short short story slam which was won by Roz Levens, then the poetry slam, won by Mark Kilburn, and finally the Big Fat Raffle prizes were drawn, all generously donated by many local shops and businesses, including supermarkets. Signed books from performers during the festival were on offer as well as artwork, jewellery etc. We then had a welcome drink to celebrate the end of Fest for another year.


Who do you work with most within WAP?

Steve Wilson, the Worcestershire County Arts Officer, is the chair of the judges for our Poet Laureate competition, so Steve and his team are the folk we have most contact with. We appreciate the support for new ideas, opportunities to meet new people and thinking about potential collaborations for events at the planning stage. We partner and support many of the organisations who also attend the various committee and sub group meetings throughout the year. It is important to us to plan our main festival around local events and cross promote, publicise, attend and perform at them, and it’s great to see everyone enjoying LitFest & Fringe.



Next up is Best of Young Jazz which formed part of the Upton Jazz Festival.  We spoke to Manda Graham




FOCUS ON… Best of Young Jazz

Tell us more about your project?


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Best of Young Jazz favourites, Second Line, top the bill in the Best of Young Jazz venue at Upton Jazz Festival in June.

Launched in 2008 through a partnership with Upton Jazz Association, Best of Young Jazz delivers workshops, activities and events for young jazz musicians aged 12+ to develop their skills, especially in the essential areas of improvisation and live performance. Best of Young Jazz celebrates and develops the exceptional talents of the young musicians that it works with and aims to nurture and support music making of the highest quality.

The project has been congratulated many times by the jazz community for developing young talent in Worcestershire. Few music projects across the UK are investing in jazz in this way and it remains difficult for young people with a passion for the genre to find help and support outside the project, particularly if they do not want to join Big Bands or would like something in addition to that option.

Best of Young Jazz is managed by an experienced team which is led by Steve Boffy with support from Marie Oldaker and Manda Graham. In 2017, Best of Young Jazz alumni, Pete Johnson and Matthew Hadden worked alongside the team to set up a new website and coordinate a vibrant social media campaign which celebrated and shared the highlights of our workshops and activities throughout the year.  



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The Best of Young Jazz team – that’s Pete Johnson at the back, one half of our marketing team.


And how did it go this year?


2017 has been a fantastic year for Best of Young Jazz. We are in the second year of our Arts Council England supported Time to Shine development programme. Time to Shine has allowed us to extend our programme from focusing on the Upton Jazz Festival weekend in June each year, into a year-round programme including two new elements; our Jazz Days schools programme and the prestigious Advanced Masterclass programme delivered with support from new partners, the Birmingham Conservatoire.


The highlight of the Best of Young Jazz year comes around in June, when we invite all the young musicians we have worked throughout the year together to perform over two days in our marquee at Upton Jazz Festival. Thanks to the work we have been doing over the past two years to bring new participants on board through our Time to Shine programme this year we were delighted to welcome over 300 young jazz musicians, an increase of 100 participants on previous years.


Upton Jazz Festival embraces Best of Young Jazz, recognising its value as a key attraction in the festival’s offer. Each year, audience enthusiasm and anticipation around the programme grows as they know they will always find something new, exciting, and refreshing in the Best of Young Jazz venue. The marquee at Upton Jazz Festival in 2017 was often overflowing.  


Who do you work with most in Worcestershire?


With its links to Upton Jazz Festival, Best of Young Jazz has its roots in Worcestershire.


Over the past few years, we have worked with a range of partners in Worcestershire. Severn Arts, Worcestershire’s Music Education Hub, have helped us to roll out our Jazz Days programme of student workshops and teacher training sessions to schools in Worcestershire and helped us to advertise our Advanced Masterclasses and other music workshops to students across the county. We continue to work with Worcestershire schools who focus on jazz such as Prince Henry’s High School in Evesham and county-wide music groups such as the Worcestershire Youth Jazz Orchestras (WYJO).













Upton-upon-Severn dance group, Sway Dance perform as part of 2016 Best of Young Jazz programme.


Dancefest helped us to put together a vibrant and exciting lindy hop dance programme and Upton-upon Severn dance school, Sway Dance continued our dance programme with their special performance on Saturday at this year’s festival.


Best of Young Jazz is only possible with the generous support of a range of, largely Worcestershire-based, funders and sponsors, find out about them our website.


How can people find out more about the project and contact you?


If you’re a young musician and want to get involved in Best of Young Jazz there’s loads of information on our new website: www.bestofyoungjazz.co.uk. You can also keep in touch by following us @BestofYoungJazz on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



I hope you all have a great summer and we will be back newsletter wise for September.




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