Local arts charity pulls off virtual festival

Local arts charity pulls off virtual festival

When the country went into crisis with the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of festivals all over the UK postponed, the uncertainty too much. Not so for local charity Arts Taunton. The charity had launched the TYCA  youth festival the previous year.

“We could easily have done what others did, seen an unsurmountable barrier, move the money into next year and done nothing,“ said Arts Taunton spokesperson and festival director, Deborah Baddoo.

Instead the charity launched a new TYCA festival website and reached out to other businesses that would be willing to help them make it happen. They launched competition challenges for the first four weeks, with cash prizes, to allow young people up to the age of 25, to explore their creativity and find ways to relate to their new environments. Themes included ‘living in a small space’ and ‘what does a mask mean to you?’ “It was a time to be brave. The world changed daily, and indeed continues to do so,“ said Deborah, “but now more than ever we knew the creative industries needed support and young people needed an outlet for all their emotions. Arts Taunton began creating a platform for the young people of Somerset to meet that need.” In March 2020 TYCA announced two online workshops, one for visual arts delivered by Go Create and one giving young people a voice through the Spoken Word, delivered by Clementines Live Arts. Whilst both were extremely successful, the latter of these attracted children from all over the world. The decision to go fully virtual was taken late July. At this point the charity reached out to Digital Taunton, a confederacy of companies bound by their digital deliveries and a solution to take the event completely online was sought.  

Tacchi Morris Arts Centre in Taunton offered their venue to host socially- distanced performances. TYCA now had lighting, sound, an auditorium and stage. Young videographer and Digital Taunton member, Glen Wayman of Highwayman Films, himself only 24, offered his expertise and crew in making the filming happen.

Ian McNiece, who had attended Taunton School as a boy, agreed to become involved. Ian, who has a string of major film and TV credits to his name, and currently appearing as Bert in the popular TV series Doc Martin, offered his services. This meant the charity could create two distinct days of entertainment, with a professional actor compering.

BBC Radio Somerset have picked up on TYCA and the Spoken Word UPwords and ONwords event and offered to broadcast the young people’s performances. The show, a mixture of professionally recorded performances and home recordings will be broadcast on the 17th of September at 8 pm. It will also go out via Facebook watch party and stream on the TYCA festival website simultaneously. In October, TYCA festival will go live, the result of many collaborations. Arts Taunton, through the festival, has given 10 performing artists and their companies work during a time when little was available, a platform for young people to learn and be creative and Taunton businesses have worked together to make this happen.

Join them on the 17th of September for the Spoken Word performances and again on October 23rd and 24th for the TYCA festival via their website: https://tycafestival.co.uk