Storyteller Pilot Festival

Current stage: Awarded


1. WonderZoo

2. Diversity Business Incubator

3. Fotonow CIC


5. Nudge Community Builders

6. Purdy’s Punjabi Cuisine

7. Lord High Admiral Pub

8. Cawfee

9. Literature Works

10. A Press of Suspects

11. Jawbone

12. Imperfect Cinema

13. Hope In The Heart CIC

14. Art and Energy CIC

Collective’s aims and ideas

What issue are you trying to tackle?

We are trying to tackle the issue of giving performance artists opportunities to develop themselves and grow. We want to involve diverse audiences and bring people together in the time of Covid-19, and allow them to get involved in workshops, performances, make friends and creatively express themselves.

What do you want to achieve?

We want people to feel a greater sense of belonging, positivity, community and self-development. After the success of our first pilot festival in 2020 during lockdown, which was mostly online and in private gardens, we felt that a second pilot festival held at multiple venues would be the next step in researching and developing ideas to create a city-wide literature festival. This future festival will be themed around the idea of

Storytelling, using comedy, spoken word, music, film, photography, food, sport and other creative disciplines. In 2020 we hired an independent researcher, Caitlin Brawn, to study the feasibility and popularity of our first pilot festival. From her research, we discovered that there was a high demand for an event of this kind in Plymouth. By completing a second pilot festival in June this year, we will create a blueprint for a future city-wide festival. Our first pilot festival involved 4 organisations. The second pilot festival will involve 17 organisations, and the future city-wide festival will grow organically.

What will you do?

From Wednesday 1st June to Sunday 5th June 2022 we will stage events at six small venues around Stonehouse, including Union Corner, Lord High Admiral Pub, The Clipper, The Plot, Cawfee and RAAY. We will be collaborating with organisations to produce 11 events. Many of these events will be supported by Nudge Community Builders and Literature Works:

Wednesday 1/6/2022: 1) Afternoon – Art and Energy – shadow puppet workshop, storytelling around climate emergency

2) Evening – Tears and Laughter – ticketed play at Cawfee, including a meal

Thursday 2/6/2022: 3) Afternoon – Hope In The Heart Workshop – Inspiring Change Through Compassionate Connection and Storytelling

4) Evening – WonderZoo – performance gig (spoken word, comedy and music) at Union Corner. Food provided by Purdy’s Punjabi Cuisine.

Friday 3/6/2022: 5) Morning – Jawbone – Writing Workshop at The Clipper

6) Evening – A Press Of Suspects – Comedy evening at LHA Pub

Saturday 4/6/2022: 7) Morning – Fotonow – Photography workshop at The Clipper.

8) Evening – Diversity Business Incubator – African food, music and poetry at The Plot

Sunday 5/6/2022: 9) Morning – Imperfect Cinema – Film Workshop

10) Evening – Imperfect Cinema – film evening and history walk of the cinemas of Stonehouse

11) RAAY – film and photography exhibition, showcasing the work of a local film-maker, Alusché Lakuta. He will make a film about the positive impact that the different organisations in our collective have had in the community. He will film a short clip of

individuals telling their story, and create a 10 minute film. He will also take photos that will hang in the exhibition, which will be open to the public during the five days of the festival.

Why is it important?

During the time of the pandemic, the arts and culture have been hit hard financially, and many venues have been forced to shut down, which has reduced the opportunities available for artists to perform. We believe it’s really important to provide performance opportunities and give artists hope and purpose during these difficult times. Many artists have suffered mental health issues and loss of earnings during the past two years, so we want to do something to give joy and celebration. Due to the restrictions, people have not been able to enjoy arts and culture as they’ve done previously, so there is a high demand for events that can bring people together in fun and laughter.

How will they work together to achieve this?

What strengths and skills is each person bringing?

Chi Bennett and Slain McGough Davey of WonderZoo will be organising the pilot festival. Every group will organise their own events within the festival. We will supervise and co-ordinate to make sure that everything runs smoothly. We have been running performance arts events in Plymouth as WonderZoo for around 5 years, with monthly gigs, workshops, and many other community activities. We have a broad skill set and knowledge about how to run events.

Will Skillington of A Press of Suspects will organise the comedy night at LHA pub. He’s been running comedy gigs at The Bread and Roses and Devonport Guildhall, so has many comedy contacts.

Peter Roe of Jawbone is the former Bard of Dorchester and prize-winning poet. He’s worked in theatre, writing and publishing. He will help people to develop their writing skills in a workshop.

Nudge Community Builders have years of experience in putting on events and knowledge of how to support small community groups to achieve their aims.

Imperfect Cinema are the leading grassroots cinema group in Plymouth, with vast knowledge of the history of cinema in Stonehouse.

Diversity Business Incubator reach out to diverse groups in Plymouth, and are able to connect people to create diverse events involving food and arts.

Literature Works are a key organisation in the South West which nurtures talent and provides resources around literature and community.

Fotonow CIC are a community driven photography company that support individuals to tell their stories in Plymouth.

RAAY is an independent art and yoga space in Stonehouse, which over the years has hosted many community grassroots exhibitions.

Lord High Admiral Pub is a popular community venue.

The Clipper is a community venue run by Nudge Community Builders, and hosts Omnium Radio Station.

Union Corner is run by Stonehouse Action, which is a community driven group, providing space for community activities.

Cawfee is an independently run restaurant on Union Street, with space for performance and food. We have used this venue before to run a fully-booked pilot event with food and a play.

Purdy Giles of Purdy’s Punjabi Cuisine is an independent business woman, sharing her love of Pubjabi Food.

Hope In the Heart CIC is a UK-based social enterprise that seeks to improve mental health and wellbeing and inspire positive change in individuals, communities and the wider world through creative workshops, courses, resources and events.

Art and Energy CIC is a group of artists, thinkers, makers and tinkerers based in Devon. They use their skills to respond to the climate emergency. They design creative experiences to help people connect with energy systems and harness hope for a better world.

Some of the groups have worked together before, but never all together on this scale. WonderZoo is very interested in collaboration and bringing communities together. We’ve had a huge amount of experience during the past two years, working with many local groups to create inventive events. We want to work with these organisations to create a stronger sense of solidarity amongst organisations in Stonehouse, which can lead to further collaborations and creative projects that will benefit the organisations and community.

During the first round, POP members were asked to advise you. Tell us what happened. What are your reflections? Have you gained new insight? New partners?

We spoke to Simon Travers and Matt Bell from POP. We had a good discussion about our plans and were able to talk through several ideas. From a financial perspective, we discussed how we would enable organisation leads to access the POP funding, but not the individual artists or participants involved in each event. This would be to place all responsibility of payments upon the main organizer, with three signatories overseeing the payments. We wanted to take away any stress or pressure from individual artists, so that they could be paid without needing to log into the POP website.

We talked about how we’ve gone from four groups in the first Pilot Festival, growing to 17 groups in the second pilot. We wanted it to grow organically from a bottom-up roots based approach, and for it to eventually grow into a city-wide festival similar to the Edinburgh Fringe where all organisations involved get a say. We like this democratic and egalitarian approach.