Seed Commissions: Ferment Festival Aug 2020 - The View From Here
Ferment is the artist development programme at Bristol Old Vic, through Ferment we collaborate with artists and companies to give bespoke support to wild & exciting ideas - and we trust that artists will lead the way.
Twice a year we run a festival of work-in-progress, the Ferment Fortnight, inviting artists and companies from the South West to share their work in development with a live audience and ask; where can we go from here? The planned July edition of the Ferment Fortnight is disrupted by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis & the temporary closure of our performance spaces.
It is clear by now that this crisis has already changed everything, and will continue to do so for some time, particularly within the cultural sector. Whilst we have put many of the projects that were originally planned for the July Fortnight on hold - in hopes that we can present them as soon as we can return to our auditoria, or continue their development trajectory in a different and adapted way in the new circumstances - we have decided not to cancel the programme altogether. Instead, we hope to commission & curate a new programme of work from South West artists and companies that is responsive to the ‘new normal’; work that keeps an audience safe but also investigates & innovates what we could make together now and how we might come together in a different, but no less powerful, way.
We expect to seed commission 5 works-in-progress - we’re open to hearing about ideas that are exclusively live, and ideas that might be exclusively digital; they could be a hybrid of both. We know that this programme has the potential to live within our building (in a controlled & safe environment) & perhaps outside in the rest of Bristol as a live programme, but there could also be the opportunity to collaborate to reach people who may still be shielded in their homes as well as those who can come and watch live. We’d like the programme to have an offer to everyone & will commission a broad range of ideas in different forms.
These commissions form an opening part of the Bristol Ferment response and offer to artists within the year ahead; we are looking at and considering how our support can respond best to the needs of our artist community in the short & medium term. We want to be of most use in creating opportunities that will help artists to be centred within the reflection and innovation of the recovery that is coming. These initial commissions should be considered one part of a wider plan and strategy.
Our planned July Ferment Fortnight has been disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis, and whilst we hope to share many of the planned projects and experiments with you in the future, we aren’t cancelling the programme. Instead, we are opening a call for a new programme that we are calling The View From Here. We now understand that, likely until a widely effective treatment or vaccine is found, we need to adjust to a ‘new normal’ that involves physical distancing and shifting social conditions which we must adjust to for the safety of ourselves and others. Many elements of our work involve bringing lots of people close together in a dark room; this isn’t possible right now & we’d like to work together with artists to imagine something different.
Our work wants to put artists & audiences at the centre of developing new ideas; the best way through this moment is going to be if we discover the new hand-in-hand with artists, companies and audiences. What can we make in this new landscape? How can we respond? We want to work with 5 artists or companies to develop & present 5 works-in-progress as part of a reimagined Summer Ferment Festival, which will take place across the week of the 17 Aug 2020.
We anticipate that by August, though physical distancing will still be a present part of our lives, some of the lockdown restrictions may have eased, enabling us to present a festival of work that exists as a hybrid between the live performance world of pre-lockdown & the technology we’ve used to connect with art & creativity during it. There will be spaces within Bristol Old Vic where controlled performance might take place, and other spaces where performance might happen; rooftops, parks, doorsteps & windows - we encourage anyone applying to these commissions to be bold in their ideas, and push the edges of what they think might be possible.
- Each artist or company will receive a cash contribution from Ferment of £3000 towards their research and development. The artists and companies will also collaborate on a production budget shared across the festival.
- These ideas will be presented as part of a week-long celebration of work-in-progress across 17 - 22 August.
- We would like to see ideas that focus on how we might use theatre to connect with audiences in this ‘new normal’; this is a new way of working for us, and we have the opportunity to completely reimagine the rules of performance.
- We’re looking for ideas that will need development and support, rather than the finished article. We’re not looking for you to have all the answers already, but just to convey an exciting idea.
- Ideas could have a physical sharing output, or a digital one, or both. You may not even know which yet, and that’s fine. Do not feel a need to force digital outputs into your ideas, some ideas are exclusively live and in the room & we’d like to hear about those just as much.
- When thinking about ‘connection’ - think big & small. Think doorsteps & telephones, social networks & letters, think songs and choreography, think costume and dress up, think big spaces and little ones, lots of people and just one person.
- You don’t need to necessarily know exactly how to achieve your idea - we can and will help with how selected ideas might be realised and how you can develop it. Just concentrate on conveying the idea to us & sharing your inspiration.
- We don’t know exactly what social restrictions might be in place in August, but it’s probably best to imagine that we could be in any of the phases the Government has set out here. Think about how your idea might be deliverable across a number of different phases - how does it expand if we have more restrictions, and how does it adapt if we have less.
- We’re keeping the application process short, and will be working in tandem with artists at every step of selection.
- This commission is open to artists based in or from the South West.
- For answers to a few questions you might have, check out the FAQ.
1. Complete the application form.
We’re mindful that within this process we don’t want to ask people to be completing lengthy applications, and so have been careful to keep things as short as possible. You will need to be a member of THE FORUM to apply for this opportunity. Once joined, to apply for an The View From Here seed commission please complete this form, which will ask the following questions - written here so that you can draft responses before entering them onto the form:
- Please give the name of the individual, group of individuals or company making this application:
- Email address and contact number:
- Please tell us about you/your company’s current practice and experience - Let us know about your achievements to date & how you make and create your work. (1000 characters)
- You don't need to, but if you'd like to attach a link to more information about you or your companies work, you can do that here (on the form there is space for a URL link)
- Please tell us about your big idea for a The View From Here seed commission. Have a look at the commissioning brief above when answering this question. Concentrate here on conveying your idea & don’t worry too much about the practicalities of it. (1000 characters)
- Please tell us about how you might plan to use a £3000 commission to support the costs of your research and development - with consideration to how anyone involved will be paid fairly for their time. You don’t need to include a budget here, just tell us about how you think you might use a commission to support the costs of your project. Remember, you will have access to additional budget to support technical and production costs related to the sharing. (1000 characters)
- Anything else you would like to tell us? Use this question to tell us anything you didn’t have space for above, any additional or supporting information that you think it might be useful for us to know as we look at your application. (1000 characters)
If you would like to submit your application via video, there is the opportunity to attach that to the form. If you would like to submit an application in any other format, we’d welcome working this out with you & contact email@example.com to discuss.
2. Shortlisting Process
We will work with a team of artist advisors to shortlist applications: each application will be read twice, once by the Ferment Producer and once by an artist advisor. Out of this a shortlist will be formed and the shortlisting team will meet with every artist or company on the shortlist to have an informal and more in-depth conversation about their application before we select the 5 commissions & begin working to develop the ideas.
We particularly note the slow progress made within the creative industries in representing intersectional voices within our programmes; we will be mindful of this throughout our shortlisting and selection process to ensure that, to the best of our ability, commissioned artists and companies speak to the different lived experiences of the city, region and nation.
We recognise people might have questions or want to know more about this opportunity before applying, so we will have 2 open zoom sessions which you can drop into to chat with Ben Atterbury, Ferment Producer & ask about the process.
- 10.30am, Thursday 25th June
- 3pm, Tuesday 30th June
If you’d like to come along to any of these, please email Ben to get the details of the zoom call using the email below.
We won’t be able to give specific advice on individual applications, but will be able to give general guidance around approaches. We’ll keep track of any recurring questions and post them here under an evolving FAQ.
We are able to support access for anyone who might need this callout in a different format, or require support in order to apply. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss this.