News: Middle Child launches artist development programme to support creatives

Renowned gig theatre company Middle Child are launching a new artist development programme, Recover, Restart and Reimagine. The three-week programme will see 13 theatre workers in Hull paid to come together to think, breathe and play. As the performing arts industries emerge from lockdown, this programme provides the opportunity for these creatives to explore and interrogate without the pressure of creating work. Although well-known as a live gig theatre company, Middle Child place equal importance on the work they do off the stage to support artists and creatives and the wider culture scene in Hull.

The theatre workers will be from a variety of disciplines, including writers, performers, lighting designers and more, and will be selected for the programme by a panel of freelancers in order to share decision-making powers with a wider group of people. Those involved will be able to participate in organised activities and self-led time to inspire, stretch and develop creative muscles after a year of lockdown and theatre closures. Recover, Restart and Reimagine combines masterclasses and workshops with skill-sharing and self-development and time to play. The first week will focus on recovery, wellbeing and reflection. Week two is dedicated to restarting, with opportunities to refresh skills, plan and try new things and week three is all about reimagining, with time to dream about what the future should look like – and put actions in place to make that future happen. The programme will form a crucial theatre worker support network in Hull as we ease out of lockdown.

Recover, Restart and Reimagine is part of Middle Child’s long term artistic development programme Reverb, which ensures that artists are given development opportunities across different disciplines. The programme works towards a better representation of the stories being told in Hull and the artists who are telling them. Reverb also sees exciting artists placed at the centre of Middle Child’s productions, so that artists at all stages of their careers are given opportunities to develop while making work. Middle Child’s work to support artists is a valuable part of the company’s ethos and has seen them support artists throughout the pandemic, and will see them continue this effort as the industry begins the road to recovery.

Artistic Director Paul Smith comments, Everyone at Middle Child is determined to contribute to a sustainable re-emergence and reimagining of our industry following the impact of the pandemic. We believe this radical programme, which invests in people rather than projects, represents a good first step in doing so, and a meaningful investment in the freelancers upon whom our work depends. The partly-curated, partly-self led programme offers a space to think, breathe and play without the pressure of an output, inspired by our Concrete Retreat writer residency. It’s designed to rebuild confidence, develop skills and take stock, in a safe space which acknowledges what we’ve been through and the impact it has had on our work and our practices.

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