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On Our Turf

A York Theatre Royal project creating truly remarkable work embedded in Yorkshire’s Cultural landscape

The Little Festival of Everything (#LittleFest) is the first phase of On Our Turf, a new two-year initiative full of energy, imagination and adventure, led by York Theatre Royal, inviting people across North Yorkshire to get involved and work alongside award-winning companies to create and programme a series of performances and events on their turf, in their towns.

Local craftspeople, theatre-makers and those who have never been involved in the arts before will join together with nationally renowned professional artists in this ambitious project which aims to take arts-based activities across the county, engaging new audiences and producing theatre in the most unexpected places.

#LittleFest happens across four weekends in September, creating remarkable events, free festivals and performances in four of the county’s market towns. Hundreds of unique events have been programmed, for example: people are invited to Bring & Batter anything they’d like to eat in Helmsley’s Fish and Chip shop; experience a working Time Machine in Easingwold; observe a touring Photography Exhibition in Selby featuring cakes that have fallen on the floor; and enjoy The Friends of Pocklington Arts Centre Vintage Fayre. Sitting alongside these locally programmed events are artists with national acclaim such as RashDash, Forward Theatre Project, Stuart Bowden and Fringe First Award Winning Fine Chisel. And it’s all free for audiences to attend!

Using York Theatre Royal as a central hub for its operations and four already established venues in Easingwold, Helmsley, Selby and Pocklington, On Our Turf takes the Arts to communities where people don’t expect to see them, builds relationships with local people and invites everyone to get involved in every aspect of programming a festival – from commissioning and booking artists and providing them with accommodation, to setting up stages and promoting events.

After the first set of #LittleFests in September each town will create a high impact, site responsive show, with commissioned national or international artists, which will be performed across 2014/15. During the #LittleFests in September a renovated double decker bus will provide a hub in each market place to drive the recruitment of community participants for phase two of this exciting project.

On Our Turf also sees York Theatre Royal working with Bristol Old Vic and Theatre by The Lake, Keswick to create a rural touring model that can be used by other theatres in different regions to deepen engagement with members of rural communities less accustomed to having the arts on their doorstep. In Year two of the project York Theatre Royal will work with both Trestle Theatre on creating a piece of intervention theatre with and for young people, and with Indefinite Article to co-produce a touring piece of theatre with and for older people, both of which will tour to all four communities.

Alex Wright, speaking at the Rural Touring Forum Annual conference in Scotland recently said about the project “On Our Turf is a brilliant opportunity for us to invest in developing remarkable creative relationships within our regions. We don’t want to just spend our time trying to get people to come in to our building, we’d rather spend time imagining, creating, playing and learning. This is new, we aren’t working to any precedent, so we’re on a big learning curve. But the prospect of creative shows, festivals, performances, workshops and more with hopefully hundreds of people is magnificent. We can’t wait to get going.”

Cluny Macpherson, Regional Director, Arts Council England, said: “I am delighted that York Theatre Royal’s On our Turf project will receive funding from our Lottery funded Strategic touring programme. The fact that the work is taking place in four different communities will lead to more people having inspiring experiences of art in their local area. The project will also help to establish new working partnerships between artists, producers, promoters and venues which can only benefit future audiences.”

This is a real achievement for York Theatre Royal and the creative arts across Yorkshire and it means the next two years could prove immensely exciting for the worlds of Arts and Culture within our county.


The Little Festival Of Everything or #LittleFest is taking place on four consecutive weekends in September, in four market towns across North Yorkshire: 7 & 8 September – Easingwold 14 & 15 September – Pocklington 21 & 22 September – Selby 28 & 29 September – Helmsley Volunteers are invited to contact Alex Wright on one of these emails specific to the town they would like to help at / / or at

The Arts Council’s aims of the initiative are detailed below:

The Strategic touring programme is designed to encourage collaboration between organisations, so that more people across England experience and are inspired by the arts, particularly in places which rely on touring for much of their arts provision.

Aims of the programme: People across England having improved access to great art visiting their local area. This includes: • Better access to high quality work for people in places in England which rely on touring for much of their arts provision • More high quality work to reach people and places with the least engagement • More high quality work on tour connecting more effectively with people across a wide range of venues • Stronger relationships forged between those involved in artistic, audience and programme development on both the supply and demand side of touring • A wide range of high quality work on tour, including in particular more work by and for children and young people, and more work by and for people from diverse backgrounds.

Editors Notes: For interviews, photos or press tickets, please contact Rachel Tarkenter, Communications Manager Direct Line: 01904 550149