In 2022, FTH Theatre and The Audio Story Company teamed up to bring the arts and live performance to communities across Falkirk. Our goal was to increase the accessibility of our work by breaking down the barriers that have restricted many young people and families in local communities from accessing performance and the benefits of arts exposure.
To take theatrical art and live performance into communities, and non-conventional performance spaces, across Falkirk with the aim of increasing awareness of FTH and it's programme of work. To conduct on the ground research of audiences, their wants, needs and hopes for the arts in Falkirk, with the view to creating a brand new piece of audio-immersive performance to tour the region and beyong.
To deliver a series of creative engagement events and performances to help re-engage local communities with the arts and their local theatre. As part of these events, The Audio Story Company will be presenting Happiness Collectors; their audio-immersive live experience for family audiences. Events will take place in local landmark sites such as The Kelpies, Callendar Park and Howgate Shopping Centre.
The culmination of the residency will see the development of a brand new theatrical offering for family audiences; inspired by local people, communities and their stories.
33 Performances of Happiness Collectors in,
11 unique outdoor, non-theatrical, space across Falkirk,
reaching over 1000 individual audience members
4 Unique Workshops for local youth theatres.
1 R&D for a brand new theatrical offering.
How We Did It:
It was clear from the beginning that an area such as Falkirk, with its rich heritage and unique history, would offer an untapped plethora of local organisations and communities who would be screaming out for a robust and cost-effective arts programme. The pandemic had not been kind to Falkirk and to FTH, but we could see that the theatre and the people working to restore its reputation were as passionate as we were about delivering for the local communities.
We'd love to say that there is a magical starting point for these kinds of projects, but quite honestly it all starts with a piece of paper and a list of goals. The goals were surprisingly simple:
Offer audiences a high-quality theatrical experience in their local community venues.
Conduct on-the-ground research with audiences.
Make theatrical performance accessible.
Achieving the goals, was less simple. We assembled a team, a producer and a performance team, who would work hand in hand to deliver the goals of the project.
The first few months of the project were spent largely discovering the lay of the land in Falkirk. We spent a lot of time on-site in Falkirk and surrounding areas, walking around communities, identifying local hubs and speaking to locals. Then the emails started being sent out to every youth group, charity and community centre that we could find. We wanted to meet people and figure out what they wanted from the arts in Falkirk. We met with loads of passionate and caring people from varying background across a wide demographic.
The next step was to plan our Happiness Collectors events. We worked with local sites Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre, Callendar House, Helix Park, Zetland Park and The Falkirk Wheel to set up event days where audiences would get a free performance of Happiness Collectors and then be invited to enjoy their local surroundings. To increase accessibility we offered all performances to the venues and to the public audience for FREE! To compliment our local sites, we also connected with the Bo'ness Children's Fair, Barnardo's Children's Charity, One Parent Families Scotland, The Forth Valley Sensory Centre and The Camelon & Tamfourhill One Place Project to offer them exclusive performances for their members.
In total, we received around 1000 audience members across 33 performances.
After our creative engagement tour, we spent some time going through the copious amounts of research we had collected. This revealed a number of things but the most significant learning was this:
People of Falkirk and surrounding areas felt that their local theatre and arts provision was insufficient.
They wanted more art and theatre outwith FTH.
Fueled by the passion of 1000 locals, we knew we had to continue our mission of delivering high quality experiences, so in January 2023 we started work on a new show which would hopefully tour into communities and beyond later in the year.
This project was made possible through funding from The Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund (PAVR) from the Scottish Government, through Creative Scotland. This fund helped performing arts venues to remain solvent, return staff from furlough, and enable new artistic commissions from freelance artists.