Jan Ford looks ahead to the start of our Create Space project, as she prepares to retire from her role as Senior Creative Producer at Orchestras Live at the end of October...
If someone had said to me two years ago that I’d be producing films at the end of my career, I would have laughed at them. But here I am, two years on, ensconced in Orchestras Live’s second orchestral digital production – Create Space. One of the great things about my job is being part of a highly regarded, experienced and creative team who between them have, over many years, devised and delivered numerous ground-breaking, sector-leading orchestral projects. They are a team who think outside the box, always ready to learn, to take all the best bits from previous productions and apply them to new work that pushes the boundaries, challenges current thinking and practices and produces great art with and for people in their communities. Create Space will do just that too.
During the pandemic I and my colleagues learnt fast about digital, producing the mammoth digital Share Sound project. It got us thinking about the possibilities digital can offer going forward, especially in reaching and engaging people who are rarely involved in creative activity or experience orchestral music.
So we thought, why not take the very best aspects of our and our partners' community engagement practice and combine that with a collaborative co-creation process? Ambitious as ever, the result will involve four communities, an orchestra, composer, poet/spoken word artist and early career music creator and produce an orchestral feature film that can tour to venues and communities.
In April this year the concept of Create Space was born: a space to create collaboratively inspired by content provided by communities on the theme of ‘togetherness’. Long-term collaborators and digital early-adopters, Manchester Camerata, joined by composer Dan Kidane and community partners in Darlington, Redcar, Sheringham and Bradford on Avon, agreed to be our creative partners. Early in July, stood outside my favourite café in Ambleside, I got the text saying Orchestras Live had been awarded a National Lottery Project Grant for the project, from Arts Council England. Combined with grant monies from the Weston Culture Fund, this meant we could go ahead with Create Space.
Our partner communities are busy creating and gathering material – video, photographs, poems, songs, music, art – for us to use as inspiration for a new piece of music that Dan and the team will be creating over the next few months. In February next year a film will be made of the new piece with additional music curated by the team and the communities. I have no idea what it will look like. All I know is that it will contain music, words, visuals that have been crafted from the feelings and thoughts of four communities at a certain moment in time. It will be beautiful, visually engaging and remembered.
When it tours in summer 2022, I will be the audience not the producer. I look forward to receiving my invitation to the world premiere!