Sunday saw the latest event in our 40th birthday schedule and our 5th annual fundraiser, the Wac Arts Cabaret! The fabulous evening was directed by Wac Arts Patron and International Director, Jonathan Butterell. Jonathan currently has the smash-hit musical Everybody’s Talking about Jamie on the West End, but stated to the audience that, for Wac Arts, he will always make time to support our young people. 120 guests attended Wac Arts’ Cabaret and over 100 young people were involved in making the evening special—from designing the programme and making the films to performing on stage.
Wac Arts had set a target of £60,000 to enable even more young people to access the arts especially those who face barriers to opportunity. These core funds would secure places for those who need Wac Arts most.
The target was smashed and the Cabaret raised £91,000!
We welcomed the audience into our bright, colourful and engaging Wac Arts world. The Old Town Hall was decked out in fun and festive décor, with lights immersing the welcome spaces. Giant light up cubes, egg shaped lamps and a projected light show on the ceiling created a sensory experience for all attendees. We aimed to give guests a deeper understanding of the sensory elements that are embodied in our Disability and Inclusion Programmes.
The night began with a drinks reception which included an exhibition of some of the incredible inclusive technology used by our young people in the Wac Arts Disability and Inclusion Programmes. The Interactive programme Co-ordinator Tommy and a young person that attends the Inclu–tech programme, Ignite, demonstrated how you can use Virtual Reality technology with clay models to create an alternate universe! Our programmes empower young people to share their skills and teach others.
Upstairs in the Main Hall, the vibrant theme continued. Stage, screen, and balcony were all used for performances during the night, flipping the usual show format on its head, to create a multi stage extravaganza.
Then it was show time!
The first performance of the night was an Afro-Fusion dance piece performed by young people from Junior and Senior Wac Arts. The audience were impressed by the dynamic choreography and high energy dance, full of character and soul. As the performance drew to a close the audience were on their feet… and that was only the first number.
“Tonight we celebrate the joy, the passion of what it is to be in Wac Arts”
Jonathan Butterell, Wac Arts Patron
Next up the Physical Theatre group of 24 created a montage of a morning in the life of a Sunday Wac Arts student through physical theatre. As a group they mimed everything which might have happened before they arrived at the Old Town hall with great humour. This included creating a 10ft bicycle out of bodies that moved across the stage. The Junior Band followed musicians aged between 5-14, comprising of two pianists, a double bass and djembe drums, performed a Randy Crawford classic; Everything must change. They were led by guest singer, American actor, director and singer, Clarke Peters and 2nd year Diploma student Oni Ogunjobi who performed a spoken word track to the song. This fusion of performance styles, ages, level of experience and different backgrounds showcased Wac Arts mission to be fully inclusive.
The evening was woven with Monologue Mash-Ups of stirring famous speeches on Education, Gender, and Freedom, Hope, and Justice these were performed by the young people supported by Wac Arts Patrons Owen Teale, Danny Sapani, Martina Laird and Wac Arts friend Zoe Wanamaker. Martina curated the powerful piece and the audience were left feeling inspired and energised.
Second year Diploma students wowed the audience, this time a Flamenco dance performance. It was a real showstopper and everyone was impressed by their staccato dance moves, passion and focus. Their beautiful authentic dresses were made by Diploma student Karta. Fellow students joined in with hand and feet percussion, as the dance approached the end and soon the audience were stamping and clapping too. The atmosphere in the room was electric.
“The Cabaret was a celebration of all that is wonderful about Wac Arts. The young people wowed us with the power of their presence, they moved us with the authenticity of their performances and the whole audience was lifted as we witnessed the sheer joy that the students clearly get from being on stage. I feel very lucky to be part of such an amazing organisation.”
Christine Kinnear, Wac Arts Trustee
Films were shown on the screen to fully represent the Disability and Inclusion Programmes. The audience could see the creative media projects and off-site provision available for young people with mild to severe disabilities and special education needs—where they can come together to build confidence, have fun, and make friends.
The night finished on a high with The Big Sing- a performance of Better by representatives across our community. At the same the film played at the same time showing local businesses and community groups coming together to sing this uplifting and heart warming song (the Big Sing encapsulated how Wac Arts brings the community together and was the perfect way to end the show).
During the Cabaret, three auction lots were offered, including tickets to Anthony and Cleopatra with the opportunity to meet the stars Wac Arts supporter Ralph Fiennes. These prizes helped us to raise record funds which will help our young people to continue to access high quality and inclusive arts training.
The event was live streamed on our Facebook page, and the videos are still available there now if you would like to relive the night. The complete video will be available the week of the 17th December. Keep an eye out on our social media and website.
We have a huge number of people to thank, all of whom gave their very best to make a special evening; auction and raffle donors, Cabaret committee, catering crew, creative team, Franco Manca, parents and carers in supporting the young people, Patrons, performers, Property Divas, staff, technical team, Thornton’s Budgens, tutors and volunteers. We would also like to thank the generous guests who came to support Wac Arts and have enabled us to far surpass our targets.
Thank you everyone for making the Wac Arts Cabaret a success.