Theatre group and GMSEN member Made by Mortals has been awarded £15,000 from Arts Council England to carry on creating its interactive lockdown podcast Armchair Adventures. The funding has enabled them to commission three playwrights, as well as four professional musicians.
The Armchair Adventures podcast project was conceived during the first lockdown back in March, in partnership with over-55s theatre group Hearts & Minds. The interactive podcast takes listeners on a journey of the imagination from their armchair and has since been launched with a live online event for over 1,000 school children.
Playwrights Emma Hill, Alison Carr and Francesca Waite have been commissioned to work alongside the Hearts & Minds group to create three more new Armchair Adventures episodes for 2021.
Additionally, musicians Amina Cunningham (flute), Andrea Vogler (percussion), Eleanor Hudson (harp) and Hannah McCabe (clarinet) were commissioned to work alongside the group to provide the musical soundtrack to the interactive podcast.
Playwright Francesca Waite said: “I was delighted to be commissioned by Made by Mortals because I enjoy working collaboratively with community groups and the Hearts & Minds group are a fantastic bunch, bursting with imaginative ideas. It’s been a joy to imagine a new story with the theatre group and the perfect way to end a year that has been less creative than normal.”
Musician Eleanor Hudson said: “As a professional musician, lockdown has hit hard, so it is a privilege to be part of this group that is diverse, creative and adventurous for professionals and community members alike. Armchair Adventures is imaginative and inspired, giving a platform for self-expression within a community at a time where it is much needed to feel a valued part of creative space. And it’s fun and uplifting for everyone!
“The dedication and enthusiasm from Andy, Paul and Francesca was simply outstanding.”
Paul Hine, director at Made by Mortals, said, “We’re also pleased to be able to provide new and exciting work for professional artists and musicians to work in communities, especially this year when many people in the theatre and arts industry have struggled so much.”
Andy Smith, director at Made by Mortals, said: “While 2020 has been challenging in many ways for everyone, we have been heartened to see how people have come together in a digital space in order to continue our music theatre sessions.”
Arts Council England released its new 10-year strategy in February this year called ‘Let’s Create’, which focuses on a collaborative approach to culture, especially for under-represented groups and areas.
Paul added, “Made by Mortals is an organisation that already worked on the principles of co-production, so the new strategy means that smaller grassroots organisations like ourselves can get greater support to reach more communities.
“It is now more important than ever that everyone plays their part in (re)building communities and harnessing the additional community spirt that has been evoked by COVID-19. And what better way to play that part than by developing and expressing your creativity through music and theatre?”
The arts and theatre organisation, based at the Guide Bridge Theatre in Audenshaw, was previously awarded just over £60,000 from two national funding pots to carry on their vital arts and theatre work throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now the outreach work has been moved into the virtual space and includes running live online sessions for primary school age children, as well as working with other partner organisations to distribute activity packs to older people in the community.
To find out more about Made by Mortals, visit: https://www.madebymortals.org/