The Wac Arts Weekender returns to the Old Town Hall
Following the success of the first ever Wac Arts Weekender in 2017, ‘Beyond Time’ aimed even bigger. The festival was created and inspired by a team of Young Advisors and professional creatives. With 26 events over five days, we opened up our building and our programmes to over 700 members of the public. Read on and find out more.
Wednesday 21st March
The Wac Arts Weekender 2018 kicked off with a dance, drama and singing showcase from our 1st and 2nd Year Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre students. Whilst still early on in their training, they wowed the audience with the variety of styles and genres and left them wanting more. Wanting to make sure that no one missed out, we took a performance out to the streets – or, more accurately, into Thornton’s Budgens (where we are Charity of the Year) and Franco Manca. There, our students surprised shoppers and diners with their singing, offering a flavour of our Full Time Musical Theatre programmes. A huge thank you to these two local businesses for their hospitality and ongoing support of our programmes.
Thursday 22nd March
Thursday started early with our building partner breakfast, getting all the organisations that work under our roof in one place, including our long-term friends and new neighbours, KIDS. Once the croissants ran out, we prepared for our next event – a talk from Ciara Brennan, Grant Manager for Arts Council England (ACE). Ciara talked to our guests about the funding streams available from ACE, and everyone in the room soaked up the information provided and took the chance to network afterwards.
We then had our first talk lead by one of our Young Advisors, Daisy-May, exploring diversity in the arts. She was joined by our Head of Dance, Ingrid Mckinnon, and founder of the Diversity School Initiative Steven Kavuma in a discussion that was inspiring and invigorating, whilst highlighting the problems that we still face in the modern performing arts industry.
Thursday ended with a showcase performed by our third year Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre students. It was a true demonstration of their talents in singing, dance and acting, and we’re sure you’ll be seeing great things when they graduate later this year.
Friday 23rd March
Friday was another early start, this time fellow organisations that were part of Camden’s London Borough of Culture bid. We celebrated winning the Mayor’s Cultural Impact Award, which came with funding for ‘Camden Alive’, a project which will bring the stories of residents of 12 housing estates in Camden to life through the arts. It was also an opportunity to discuss future collaborations across the borough, benefitting more of the community’s residents.
Wac Arts alum Kloé Dean, introduced workshop participants to Hip Hop Dance through an upbeat warm up leading into learning a choreographic sequence. Our Full Time students jumped at the chance to learn from Kloé and loved the opportunity to train with one of their own.
This workshop was followed by an Introduction to Khatak Dance, run by our building partners, Akademi. Meanwhile, in the Main Hall, the Wac Arts College students took to the stage with a selection of songs, drama performances and dance pieces. It was fantastic to have our building partners work with us to deliver our five-day festival, bringing their own specialties to the table.
Friday finished with the 1920’s Interactive Mystery Extravaganza. The description wasn’t lying when it said audience participation was required at this performance – as the Incredible John McBones tried to find out who had murdered Pod, he called on the audience to help unveil clues through playing vegetable instruments, searching with VR glasses and making music with a Sound Beam. It was a 3D printer that saved the day, making sure the right person ended the evening behind bars. It was a fantastic demonstration of the technology our disability inclusion groups use regularly to get creative in their sessions.
[pullquote]”The show was devised by the young people and performed with passion and joy.. The show embodied our values of innovation, empowerment and excellence. It was fantastic!”
Wac Arts CEO, Karen Napier[/pullquote]
Saturday 24th March
Saturday was packed full of events for all ages. As our Head of Events took visitors on a tour of our historic building, others got to experience Junior Wac Arts classes for themselves. They also got stuck into our Make Station, creating flags and banners for our cheer station at the London Landmarks Half Marathon while the parent’s drumming group provided entertainment. Urban playmakers Antidote were onsite running games for children and adults alike, bringing the playground into our Atrium.
Folk Dance Remixed ran a participatory performance in the afternoon, which got even the most reserved of us dancing joining their mix of traditional folkdance and hip hop (even if our feet hurt afterwards!)
Luckily, we got to sit down for Young Advisor Luke’s talk on age in the arts. He was joined by fellow Young Advisor Jasmine, Owen Teale (Actor known for his roles is Game of Thrones, Discovery of Witches ) and Tottenham UpLIFTers, in a discussion that really enlightened the audience on the struggles performers can have no matter how old they are and how you can be an artist at any age.
The icing on the cake was the Junior Wac Arts showcase in the evening. The audience were delighted by devised drama performances (the suffragette piece blew us away!), instrumental pieces including a fantastic saxophone sharing which reminded us of our Jazz roots (Courtney Pine and Julian Joseph but attending Wac Arts back in the day!), dancing and songs. If this is the next generation of performers, we’re going to be in for a treat!
Sunday 25th March
Sunday kicked off with the London Landmarks Half Marathon, where seven Wac Arts runners ran to raise money for our programmes. The team rose over £6,000, smashing their target, and helping Wac Arts keep prices low and quality of offer and teaching high. Once the race was over and our runners had received their medals, we headed back to the Old Town Hall to hear from our building partners, Starline Entertainment. Their first event exploded the myths of the TV and Film business, giving an insight into the real world of film making an distribution and their second gave us an exclusive preview of new documentary ‘Piano to Zanskar’, and the opportunity to speak to the young team behind it.
Upstairs, our Senior Wac Arts students were showcasing their aerial silks, astounding the audience as they swung on hoops and tumbled down silks, while drama students presented extracts of Blood Brothers, DNA and additional monologues. It was then into the Main Hall for the Senior Wac Arts showcase. The showcase is always a treat, many of the young people who attend are looking to train in the arts and work in the industry and we are always taken aback by their talent. The final performance from the Afro-fusion class got the audience on its feet – the perfect end to the Wac Arts Weekender 2018!
[pullquote]“Wow! What an amazing night our! For a community organisation – for ANYONE – this was a great evening!”
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