Like many other circus and theatre companies, Extraordinary Bodies should now be in the middle of our busiest time of the year. We should be touring and performing shows. We should be meeting and creating with our diverse communities and audiences. Although we may not be able to do all of this, we are still here.
Extraordinary Bodies and its producing companies, Diverse City and Cirque Bijou, were looking forward to a brilliant year of touring and making new work across the UK and internationally. This would have included the new tour of What Am I Worth?, planned premiere at The Lowry in April 2020. Subsequent tours included Barnsley Civic and No Limits, Sunderland Culture and Theatre Royal Plymouth and Mayflower Commemorations.
This tour of What Am I Worth? is now postponed until 2021; when we’ll also visit Brixton House, Brighton Festival and Lighthouse Poole. Together with these partners, we’ll reschedule our tour and planned work with their amazing communities and audiences. 2021 will also mark the start of a three year pattern of touring diverse led circus; supported by a hugely welcome project grant from Arts Council England. We cannot wait!
We are still here
Despite the challenges, our work in 2020 has not stopped. In fact, we are busier than ever. And the need to support our communities, our artists, and our partners is greater than ever.
We have gone back into the rehearsal room, albeit virtually, to develop new work with our artists, writers, and film makers. We have made circus, theatre and music in our living rooms, gardens and bedrooms. Extraordinary Bodies’ new film – an exciting adventure for our creative team and artists – will be with you in August 2020.
Diverse City, Cirque Bijou and Extraordinary Bodies, have worked to stabilise the immediate future of the companies. More importantly, we have been making sure that the people in our wide ranging family are supported, practically and emotionally.
We are lucky that, as a National Portfolio Organisation and with the directives and measures brought in by the Arts Council, we have been able to honour all contracts with freelancers.
Diverse City and Cirque Bijou have offered fundraising consultancy, training, mentoring, access training and financial support. We have joined the North Start project and sponsored an artist to join the Freelance Task Force.
Whatever the outcomes of this current crisis, the world of work will have changed irrevocably. For the first time, we really are ‘all in it together’, albeit negotiating our own unique paths.
We are here to help
Those of us used to dealing with barriers have seen them multiply and magnify in the present climate; whether they be sourcing essential supplies, finding necessary support and care-packages, the logistics of self-isolation, dealing with particular health conditions or paying the rent. There is a clear imperative to live by our values.
To this end, we are reaching out. ‘Unlikely Alliances’ have been key to the development of our companies and activities over the years. In this current climate, there is a greater need to connect, support and be an ally.
So, to all our associates and the wider sector, a call out:
As we think about and action our immediate and future plans, how can we come together? How can we share a future? What practical and creative support can we provide?
We are still here. And we are here to help.
Photo © Ashley Knotek