Oct 172014

Re:Play is a new development programme for up to five advanced Black, Asian and minority ethnic writer-performers interested in developing, and performing, a one-person show addressing a critical social issue. The programme includes:

  • A £1,000 bursary plus travel to Re:Play activities
  • Four master classes between January-July 2015 exploring writing, performing and producing with some of the best practitioners working in the industry
  • A mentor to provide critical feedback and guidance throughout the Re:Play process
  • At least one scratch opportunity
  • A showcase performance in July 2015 at London’s Southbank Centre (date TBC)

Re:Play welcomes applications from BAME writer-performers of all genres who are currently resident in England. You will need to be available on selected dates between January and July 2015.


Re:Play is a collaboration between cultural producer Nimble Fish and writer/performer Nick Makoha and has evolved through their work together to produce Nick’s one-person show, My Father and Other Superheroes. The show is touring England in 2015. Both the tour and Re:Play are supported through a generous grant from Arts Council England.

What do we mean by ‘critical social issue’?

My Father and Other Superheroes is an autobiographical one-person performance about Nick’s journey from childhood to fatherhood. It follows his struggle to come to terms with the responsibilities of being a parent and his confrontation with his own father’s absence.

Nick worked closely with the Fatherhood Institute to inform and develop the themes of his work. The result is a moving, often funny performance work that also gets audiences thinking about fathers and families in new ways. As one member of the British Council put it, “After leaving the theatre, my first reaction was to phone my dad to see how he was.”

To Apply:

We need five things from you as part of your application:

1)    A outline of the social issue you wish to tackle and your motivation for doing so, which might be autobiographical, political, cultural or just based on passionate interest

2)    A one-page treatment of your idea

3)    A short description of a charity you would like to connect with, and why. You may include a letter of support from the charity if you choose.

4)    A CV highlighting your relevant achievements and links to selected work online.  These can be included as attachments but please don’t include more than four.

5)    Up to 400 words about how Re:Play would affect your professional development.

All applications must be received via e-mail no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, 7th November 2014. No late entries will be accepted under any circumstances. Subject line should be ‘Re:Play application’ and e-mails sent to getnimble@nimble-fish.co.uk. Interviews with short-listed candidates will be held w/c 24th November. We regret that we will not be able to provide feedback to applicants who do not make the shortlist.

Oct 142012

The Royal Opera House has published a video series that offers a rather intimate, and interesting, insight into the collaborative schools work in Southend that Nimble Fish were a key part of. This work spanned several projects and years, and looks to be continuing in a slightly different form in the 2012-13 academic year. There are about a half dozen videos in the ROH series, none more than four minutes long: Sam or Greg feature in most of them. If you’re interested in creative learning or a particularly intricate expression ofCreative Partnerships work, these are for you.

The entire video set can be previewed here and the videos are labeled according to a particular focus. The following vid-let is the one to watch first, not least because it features Sam in a rather smashing velveteen jacket.

Jun 262012

first published in ArtsProfessional on 21 June 2012

I have just finished training new creative agents for a Creative Partnerships project. We spent an exciting week looking at how we could help teachers explore new ways of delivering their work, and how young people – particularly those who are disengaged from learning – could find innovative ways to take ownership of their educational experience (and thus like it more and do better in school).

This is not a time warp: the year is 2012. But wasn’t Creative Partnerships defunded by the Coalition government in 2011? Didn’t it wrap up about this time a year ago? Yes in both cases. The work I just finished was in Norway, one of several countries now embracing ‘creative learning’ projects driven by, or directly modelled upon, work developed and delivered in the UK. The project is led by Creativity, Culture and Education, the organisation that ran Creative Partnerships in the UK, and which has since found a receptive audience for creative learning work across Europe and beyond.

The countries investing in UK-style creative learning are by no means the world’s low performers. In a 2010 survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Norway ranked ninth out of 31 countries for science, maths and reading; the UK ranked 20th. In Lithuania, where the nationwide Creative Partnerships programme has just launched its second year, more than 90% of the population pursues education beyond the minimum requirement, one of the highest rates in Europe. The interest from schools in Lithuania is phenomenal, with twice as many applicants as available places.

What’s happening here? The answer is simple. Independent thinking, collaborative working, risk-taking, creative problem solving: these are what give 21st century workers an edge, as reports here and internationally show time and again. The leaders of other countries know this, or are waking up to it. They want their education programmes to deliver the skills which will be key drivers in future competitiveness on the global stage.

Sadly, just as creative approaches to learning are being embraced elsewhere, the Coalition government’s education agenda is practically anti-creative. One year on, nothing has replaced Creative Partnerships; the government’s best response to the ‘creativity’ issue is a stepped-up campaign for Arts Award and Artsmark. These programmes have some merit, but they are focused very clearly on cultural provision and access, not on creative approaches to teaching and learning. Individual schools are carrying on Creative Partnerships-style work, but starved of resources and bracketed by rigid exam-led targets, it is a hard slog.

Irony seems to have little purchase on our current political leaders. Still, they shouldn’t be surprised if, in a few years’ time, education advisers from abroad start making inroads in the UK with creative learning practices that were, of course, born here in the first place.


Sep 272010

We had a marvelous time at the 2010 Village Green in Southend last weekend. Organised by Metal Culture and now in its third year, Village Green is an incredibly lively and diverse festival that celebrates the arts, culture and community. We don’t know what the body count was this year, but last year’s VG drew a whopping 20,000 people to its one-day extravaganza.

For this year’s VG, we devised a new interactive installation titled Space To Dream. The idea is simple: we invited passers-by into our 3x3m marquee and asked them to leave us a piece of a dream they’d had, whether the night before or from years ago. It might be only a fragment–a word, an image, an idea–or it might be an entire story. We provided some very simple kit for our dreamers to write, draw, make, stick and create any version of their dream piece they saw fit.

Our aim was collect as many dream fragments as possible during our day-long stint and we collected hundreds, from children and adults, residents and visitors. The result was a marvelously messy collage of ideas and images that was by turns uplifting, haunting, cryptic, funny and contemplative. We were thrilled that many of our morning dream leavers came back in the afternoon to see how it’d all turned out. Check out this Flickr link for a flavour of what transpired on the day.

Space To Dream was a riff on our most recent project in Southend, Space To Learn, which explored non-traditional teaching and learning spaces in the community. Ideas about how we can re-see spaces and places link both projects, but they’re also about how new vistas open up when we give ourselves the freedom to try something new, whether in a classroom or at a festival. A simple idea, and yet like all simple ideas sometimes requiring a bit of bravery to put into practice. We thank all of our Space to Dreamers for taking the leap last weekend.

Sep 142010
And so, it’s semi-official. A Guardian article today provides the backdrop for news that the Creative Partnerships programme, which has changed the UK arts and education landscape in uncounted ways, will cease to be funded after the current fiscal year. This is no surprise to those us who do a fair bit of CP work: the rumour mill has been so active where CP’s demise is concerned that it has felt like a fait accompli for nearly a year now. Ironically, the Guardian piece is built around a new report citing the societal and economic impact of the CP programme, which is considerable. Read the article; then go to the Culture Creativity and Education (CCE) website and download the report. Both tell a tale of government money well-spent.

Expected though it may be, confirmation of CP’s imminent demise is bittersweet for us. Nimble Fish is a child of Creative Partnerships: the company’s founders met doing a CP project and our operating ethos–cross-arts, collaborative, never taking our clients or audiences for granted (CP has always been big on coming into schools with an open mind)–has always reflected that initial work. Many of our regular collaborators, not to say good friends, were met through CP connections. We’ve done a lot of CP work over the years, most of it very exciting and rewarding, both artistically and in the context of the kind of societal advancement that is at our core as a company.
Given all this, it may sound strange to say that perhaps it is indeed time for CP, as a programme, to end. This is not to say that we look forward to an end to the work that CP has fostered; that of arts-led collaboration between teachers, students and creative practitioners for the purpose of enriching and improving teaching and learning. If anything, CP-style work is obviously the way of the future in a world economy that is increasingly about flexible thinking, portfolio careers and creative collaboration.The UK is truly a remarkably rich place where creative people are concerned, and whatever the LibTories do in coming years they’d do well to keep in mind that breaking the back of the country’s creative industries (as their more alarming proposals appear to suggest) effectively breaks the back of the UK’s ability to operate as a real player in the world. We don’t build many great machines from fire and steel anymore, but we do continue to produce world-class ideas. This is a resource that must be nurtured, not neutered.
But as government-sponsored programmes go, CP has had a pretty long and rich run of it: about a decade from inception to what appears to be conclusion, with a truly nation-spanning reach. All programmes become moribund after awhile, their original swagger and daring inevitably stiffening with paperwork and boxes to tick. Artists, too, can grow torpid if they feed too long at any programmatic trough. Sometimes, things need to end in order for innovation to begin again. This may sound ungrateful, but many CP veterans would tell you much the same.
And far from fading into nothing, CP and its work have so fundamentally changed the educational and cultural landscape that we hope, and believe, there is no going back to pure reliance on test scores and rote learning. As artists and cultural producers who are also passionate about education, it’s our job to find meaningful ways to build upon the CP legacy in a changing and challenging world. We are well up for it, whatever comes next.

Posted via email from gregklerkx’s posterous

Aug 122010

As respite from the Re:bourne ‘machine’,  I have been doing some research into Landscape and Environment Art; think Christo, Dennis Oppenheim and Andy Goldsmith.  I stumbled across this;

(Environmental Art)…is a “spatialisation of cultural politics”, a radical rethinking of the intersection between social relations, space and the community.  This rethinking can lead to a kind of IN-BETWEEN or THIRD SPACE, a lived space of radical openness and unlimited scope, where all histories and geographies, all times and places, are immanently presented and represented.   Edward Soja

My thoughts exactly!

I hope on some level Re:bourne is able to achieve some of these things.  At its best it will be  a ‘creative disruption’ or ‘interruption’ that enables the community to inhabit a transgressive space between bricks and mortar and day to day life; it will  a critique of what is already there , an invitation to change literally and emotionally.  At worst, it will simply enrich shoppers experience as they collect their frozen peas from Iceland.

Aug 112010
No, Sam isn’t rehearsing for an upcoming Nimble Fish melodrama; it’s merely her exaggerated exhaustion from bleach-cleaning walls in one of our re:bourne event spaces (the shadows are because there’s no power inside the space so we have to jury-rig power and lighting from elsewhere).

If many of these blog entries seem unduly concerned with the nuts and bolts of process and prep–as opposed to declaiming about the artistic product–it’s probably because re:bourne lives or dies on seemingly small things like whether or not a shop that hasn’t had an occupant in at least 5 years can be made decent enough for art to occur there. The time and energy this can take, and the importance of spending both, is only learned through experience.

When it comes to working like this–that is, the renovation/ preparation of non-traditional art and performance spaces in high- traffic areas (not abandoned warehouses and suchlike)–we must surely be industry leaders by now, if such an industry exists. And disinfecting shops is all into the bargain.

Posted via email from rebourne2010’s posterous

Aug 092010
Writers Gary Studley and Vicky Wilson will offer Word Walk for re:bourne. Here are Vicky’s impressions about the process thus far:

“Our involvement in re:bourne has enabled us to develop our interest in community engagement and in finding ways of encouraging people to delight in words. We have just begun to work with found poetry as a medium, and the idea of creating a found poem for Sittingbourne enables us to use this technique on a more ambitious level. We didn’t know Sittingbourne before this project but are excited about finding out what local residents think of their town to add to our own impressions.”

Posted via email from rebourne2010’s posterous