Launching Collective Encounters’ Social Distancing Programme

All of us here at Collective Encounters very much hope you, your family, friends and communities are staying safe during these unsettling times.

We, like most people, have spent the last month reflecting and making plans. We’ve been talking to our stakeholders, audience, participants and communities. We’ve been assessing possibilities and working out the role of Theatre for Social Change during and after COVID-19.

For many people whose lives are restricted by poverty & inequality COVID-19 has taken away their support networks, livelihoods, mental health & resilience, putting their day to day lived experience under huge pressure. Some are concerned they will lose their homes. Public services are stretched trying to meet local need, and charities and voluntary groups are struggling to survive.

We’ve devised our social distancing programme to respond to some of these challenges.

Our work with adults and young people in the Liverpool City Region will continue. In the last month we’ve supported regular participants & learners to overcome practical and skills barriers to technology, and we are now delivering weekly sessions for Above & Beyond, Radical Makers and the Youth Theatre online.

Soon we’ll start delivering our Arts Award accredited outreach programme online also.

We’ve re-thought the form and timing of forthcoming performance outputs. Touring productions such as the youth theatre’s The Street Where the Stories Live and the adult programme’s Above & Beyondwill still go ahead but much later on in the financial year.

In the meantime the production team and actors will be generating artistic digital content for these pieces which are slowly changing in shape and form. We’re also delighted to announce a series of micro-commissions for emerging artists in the Liverpool City Region.

Research & training for the Women in Action project will take place through creative interventions with older people online, by post and by phone.

The bulk of our sector development events are now online. Sessions have had to be shortened to combat ‘zoom fatigue’, and all seminars and training events are now completely free. We want to do our bit in ensuring the participatory arts sector is ready for action in a post-pandemic world.

The only event we’ve had to postpone until further notice is the Rediscovering the Radical Summer School. As soon as we have a clearer idea on when social distancing measures are to be relaxed we will programme this two day event – maybe in the Autumn, or the new year.

We hope you can find a way to engage, or spread the word about the work we are doing, and we send love & solidarity to you all.

Annette Burghes