Thursday 19 March 2015

Women & Placements & Pool Tables.

This is our Romeo & Juliet cast - sat looking like a new band on a pool table*, in The Fleeting Arms (a new pub and arts space we've helped to set up in York.)

Amie, Hannah, Holly, Yoshi, Lucy, Sarah. A new company for us. Not a beard in sight. 

Six flipping brilliant makers that joined us up here in North Yorkshire to have some dinner, read a play, have a sing, and have a good old chinwag on Tuesday night and Wednesday daytime. 

As I said in a blog a while ago - we wanted to cast an all female Shakespeare because we're in a position help redress the gender imbalance on our stages. That was why. Like many arts organisations, we are historically guilty of working with too many men. We'll stop doing that. So many brilliant people got in touch to express their interest. We could have made this show hundreds of times over and, I hope in time, we can. 

Yesterday it became more than that though. It wasn't just about redressing a gender imbalance. It kind of superseded that and entirely undercut that. Because now we get to make a show - we get to wrestle with it, imagine it, get it wrong, find it hard, and make it better. 

Romeo & Juliet is a big play. It's bigger than we think when we casually think of Romeo & Juliet. A hell of a lot happens. And when we sit down and ask 'Okay, to put this play on now, in 2015 - what is it about?' the answers are endless. It's about rebellion, it's about a divided community, it's about social fear, it's about passion and recklessness, it's about getting in to fights when you're drunk, it's about accepting people for who they are, it's about realising what's important in life before you lose it. All of which matters, urgently, here and now in our communities, today.

And what's it about when you do it with a cast of six women? All the above. 

Here's another thing. When we made Sherlock in August last year we had this conversation on The Guardian about placements. We said that we would try to do everything we can on each new project to offer a paid placement. And we will do that. We are waiting to hear back on some funding from the Arts Council. If we get this, we have budgeted for a paid placement. But we don't really want to rely on that - we'd like to be able to offer it out. I don't know how yet. But we're working on it. 

But soon we'll put up a call for people's thoughts and hopefully ways we can invite people to be involved. 

Romeo & Juliet is a big show, in the way I mean above. For us, it's also a big show in terms of scale. Six performers, creative team, crew. It adds up to about £55,000 for the first stage of the productions. Of course, we do careful maths and have applied to the Arts Council for about £14,000 of that. But, if you'd like to support the show then we'd like to let you. If you'd like us offer a paid placement, and you think you can help, then please do. 

If you want to support the show, it's easy. Come see it. We want to make sustainable work that is interesting, inventive, relevant and offers new stuff for people along the way. And the best way we can do that is with a whole bunch of audience, community and friends at our sides. So Romeo & Juliet doesn't come with a crowdsourcing campaign, any fundraising stunts or donations boxes. It just comes with a box office link. 

We use the money from ticket sales to cash flow the show - to pay people. We spend very little on set / tech / stuff - it pretty much all goes on people. So rather than have a hoo ha or a ding dong about money, we'd just like you to buy a ticket! We'll even do a show for you in return.

If you'd like to see it in York, head here. If you'd like to see it in London, then tickets will be available here soon. 

If you'd like to have a look at a little trailer, the that is here.

But, whether you can come watch or not, we're excited to be here. To be in an International Shakespeare Festival, to be making our first Shakespeare, to be performing in a new venue, to be rehearsing in our lovely little village, to have six brilliant women making the show with us on stage and three brilliant women and one brilliant man (not including Brian and I) making it with us off stage. And to be telling a story which, when you sit and really look at, is about a heartbreakingly dysfunctional, overly proud and narrow minded society that doles itself out in wars and punishments - a society which doesn't look after the dreams, aspirations and passions of its younger members. That feels important. 

All the best to the best of you all.

*There won't be a pool table in the show. Or graffiti. We're performing it in a church, which is beautiful. But you can come for a game of pool after.

Monday 9 March 2015

A Whole Lot Of Love (and what happens now...)

On Friday, The Fleeting Arms opened its doors. 
A new arts and community space made, loved and imagined by the creative community of York and surrounding area.
That is a huge thing for everyone within and without that community to be proud of - that this has happened and that it is happening, right now. That grass roots, open space, wide armed and welcoming thing is going on. Outside the usual bounds of hierarchy, competition, capitalism - there is a new arts space open and up and running and there to be used. 
For anyone who is reading this with a drink near by, have a little toast. 

And Friday night was glorious. Full of wonderful people - old, new, borrowed and blue - and wonderful conversations. A good amount of drinking. And a lovely amount of poetry, music, jazz and a midnight ceilidh. 

So. We're open. Next?

On Friday 13th March we welcome The Big Smoke Band. A band made up of 50% Holy Moly And The Crackers and 50% Buffalo Skinners. A band full of old time folk tunes, whiskey, guitars, fiddles and damn sweet harmonies - and a special cocktail from us alongside. They'll be on from 8pm, so get on down. 

On Saturday we will have a pool tournament, because we have a pool table. We'll play as knock out rounds. More rules and regs soon. But with a good soundtrack and maybe some challenges along the way. Fancy dress? Is a fancy-dress-pool-tournament a thing?

And cocktails. Our bar manager, Max, is a cocktail maker - so expect a few tasty treats along the way. 

If you're reading this to catch up on what's happening, then we'll keep you updated. Head to for regular info. 

For those of you who want the nuts and bolts, see below.


We are up and running. 

Brian, Brian, Max (our bar manager) and I (Alex), sat down yesterday and did lots of adult things like maths and schedules. 

Our BAR opening times will be 

Tues - Sat / 12pm-11pm
Sun / 12pm-8pm
Mon / Close

This made the most of Max and Amy's (our other bar manager) time behind the bar.

The building can be used inside and outside of those times for rehearsals, meetings, RnD, general work etc. That is absolutely fine. We will need someone in the space to make sure everything is okay until the bar opens. If anyone thinks they will regularly work there one or two mornings a week, then let us know. All bookings are done through a very simple diary in the space.

Lots of people are interested in putting work on with The Fleeting Arms. This is brilliant. We will keep trying to find a good way of talking about it and keeping everything up to date. Please keep spreading the word and, now, direct folks to for regular info, and to to get in touch.

We would like to keep being transparent about money, time and programming etc. We would like to offer all spaces for free - performance, rehearsal, exhibitions, performance etc - that's important to us.

We need to clear £1,500 per week over the bar. At 50% gross profit on each drink, that covers our running costs of approx £750 pw. So, we need a good night like Friday night every week to help hit this target - one or two events a week which will pull folks in and have a good night at the bar. This weekend we banked £1,080 of which £700 came from the opening night.  

Today we ordered £1,900s of booze, so we will be improving our bar offer - looking at more craft / interesting bottled beers, nice wines and some tasty cocktails. We are required to pay for the drinks orders upfront, so we will be considering cash flow in that respect.

Brian will be setting up car parking charges for the car park behind the pub straight away. These will be rented out and will help to cover our costs on rates.

There are new things that we need to look at - online listings and listings of what's coming up in the The Fleeting Arms, blackboards outside the pub with upcoming events etc. So if you'd like to help and / or be a part of this bit, then please do.

Finally, a huge and very heartfelt thank you for coming on this journey so far. The hard bit is, in many ways done, and the fun is all to come. Hopefully see you there soon.

Much love and here's to a glorious 6 months or so ahead!

Tuesday 3 March 2015

A Fleeting Invite - A Little Drink & A Shindig

So we asked if we should open a pop up arts space and a whole host of folks said yes. They not only said yes, they have rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in up to their wonderful-arty-community-helpful-imaginative necks. 

And after gallons of paint, a few skips, a lot of white spirit, trips in vans and a lot of good fun, the time has come for us to open our temporary doors. 

Our little venue will throw its arms wide on Friday 6th March from 7pm. There will be a working bar, there will be music, some art, some poetry, a few little nibbles and a whole lot of wonderful folks. We'd love you to come and join us. There is no charge, no levy, nothing for you to do other than to come and enjoy yourself - a little or a lot. 

So come one, come all. Feel free to bring your dancing shoes. 

The Fleeting Arms is about to set sail!