The Time-Traveller’s Theatre Trail (TT) is designed to reconnect ERT, its volunteers and its community by encouraging safe, free, outdoor engagement in the performance arts away from digital screens. Outside in the fresh air, participants will travel along an accessible, safe, outdoor walking trail experiencing an uplifting and joyous podcast-drama that transports them into Beverley’s less known theatrical past via ERT’s high-quality production.
Since opening in 2014, ERT has been successfully run by its Trustees, including Artistic Director (AD) Adrian Rawlins. Full-time volunteers Theatre Manager Sue Kirkman and Finance Director Tom Wilders, are supported by board members, 80 volunteers and equivalent to 3.5 full-time paid staff. ERT is a registered charity, an independent theatre and the only producing house in the East Riding of Yorkshire. ERT’s work provides local audiences and tourists access to high-quality plays, some of which were previously only produced in London, ensuring local people do not need to travel far to see shows relevant to local lives. In 2019, our last full financial year, ERT held 220 performances including in-house and visiting productions, music and comedy selling 21,021 tickets and employing +70 freelance practitioners; 75% of which were local practitioners. For a theatre our size and limited financial resources, the significance of this huge achievement is due to the loyal support and determined efforts by our volunteers. Their work contributes to the equivalent of £150,000 per year and without them the theatre could not be classed as the exemplary model of community engagement it is today.
80 loyal and competent volunteers, including Trustees, were involved in fundraising and the initial renovation of our Listed Building and we have continued to be the caretakers of an incredible organisation which has been created and supported by its community. Sunday Times 2019, Best Places to Live, talk of Beverley as 'No longer is this just a place to bask in a laid back sense of gentility and glance sympathetically at Hull... The town is casting off its reputation as a cultural backwater... it hosts winter music and chamber music festivals but the drastic catalyst was the launch of the East Riding Theatre'. We have excelled our expectations and, due to the financial reserves we built over 5 years of operation, we have managed to remain solvent with the help of the government's Cultural Recovery Funding which currently supports employment of our small team of staff who operate marketing, assist ERT's general manager with administrative work and maintain our technical and building maintenance. Our volunteer management team makes up 95% of ERT's staff ensuring our budgets and forecasts continue to secure our financial future stability in these difficult times. We are however hampered by lack of funds to create the work our mission sets out to achieve and bring to the region's community, which is why we have chosen to undertake the project subject to funding.
In 2019, Arts Council England project funded 2 new plays both set in East Yorkshire. One of these 'Chippy' helped to formalise an Artistic Exchange Programme with Lyttleton Arts Factory, New Zealand where its transferred later in 2019 and engaged 2000 international live audiences. The programme has led to 4 local actors performing in New Zealand and 3 New Zealand actors performing at ERT. 'Horseshoes for Handgrenades' was set in rural East Yorkshire and showcased northern voices, local identity and new writing attracting 68 new people from rural areas. Earlier in 2019, 100% sell out of 'Beryl' based on the story of Yorkshire cyclist Beryl Burton set out Northern voices attracting 374 new visitors and tourists from the cycling community. It transferred to Arcola Theatre London for a sell-out 4 weeks run which was extended by a further 4 weeks, resulting in 5269 people seeing our work and showcasing 2 local Beverley born and based actors.
ERT's Company in Residence all female She Productions and resident visual artist Emma Garness undertake our community outreach work. In 2019, they engaged 240 local primary school pupils in Arts Enrichment Days. 'Then & Now' intergenerational workshops were attended by 9 young ERVAS ‘volunteens’ and 14 ERT volunteers. She Productions 3rd ‘Finding Your Voice’ course partnered with ERYC to engage 7 unemployed adults, and ERT hosted the 1st parent & child show in region selling 26 tickets. National/international artists bring diverse work to our local audiences via 4 annual festivals. We are partners with John Godber Company whose following and premières at ERT build new and diverse audiences. As part of Small Venues Network, 6 YourPlaceComedy events have engaged local audiences via livestreamed shows from the homes of well known comedians. Partnerships with Paines Plough networks build young, diverse & new audiences. Since 2014 our Christmas shows have sold out boosting our income into the following year to support our artistic projects, new work and community engagement. Little Women, director Jake Smith, was awarded 4* in The Stage, attracted 102 new people and excerpts have featured twice on BBC 1. High-quality summer schools have filled the lack of professional training in the region. In 2019, due to bursary funding, we engaged 16 low-income and NEETS students. Our summers schools have resulted in 4 young people entering the film and TV industry as professionals and 5 students gaining places at prestigious drama schools.
Late last year we attempted an online play which had to be cancelled due to lockdown and we have since been restricted by activity that can only connect with people who have access to social media or our website. We considered how people were beginning to struggle with screen fatigue relating to working from home and digital engagement, concluding the need to get people out into the fresh air whilst reconnecting them with our artistic work. Results of a short survey consulting with audiences via social media and an e-newsletter showed 97.5% of responses as interested in participating in the project. As we prepare to reopen later in the summer, depending on the Public Health context, we are aware that audiences may struggle with anxieties and lack of confidence as they return to theatre buildings and that our volunteers will face both the nervousness of the public as well as dealing with their own concerns. By providing active involvement for our volunteers (as described in the application) the project will begin to remobilise them, build their confidence by engaging them in decision making, and prepare them for training prior to reopening. The project takes advantage of and encourages outdoor activity and rebuilds connectivity with audiences, Community Lift, Find Charity, Beverley Talking Newspaper, schools and youth groups through the heath and wellbeing benefits of participation in the arts and engagement in local history alleviating anxieties in people before their visit to the theatre. We have consulted with Head of Culture at ERYC, Ian Raynor, who has endorsed the significance of the project.
The Time-Traveller’s Theatre Trail (TT) is designed to encourage safe, outdoor engagement in the performance arts away from digital screens. Outside in the fresh air, participants will travel along accessible, safe, outdoor walking trail experiencing an uplifting and joyous podcast-drama that transports them into Beverley’s less known theatrical past via ERT’s high-quality production. The podcast drama will result in a complete, finished product and can continue to be accessed as a cost effective legacy to engage people from all income groups with ERT now and in the future, building audiences and enhancing lives through participation in the performing arts. We anticipate around 4000 downloads over a year equivalent to 20% of ticket sales in 2019. Whilst this is difficult to gauge, we still feel there is potential for increased figures.
Evaluating the project:
Volunteers will be testing ERT's trail prior to the rest of the community, and we will collect their feedback so the final version is accessible and safe for all participants. Evaluative feedback will be assessed on a regular basis from paid and unpaid social media post engagement, downloads collected by the app provider, additional surveys on social media, weekly newsletters and collated feedback from schools and local youth groups. ERT will gain internal feedback through evaluation meetings from volunteers who use the app, and individual feedback from the paid staff, volunteers, and creatives who contributed to developing the project. At grant evaluation stages, we will provide an evaluative pack and a link to the trail on our website .
Reg Number: 06455490 | Charity Number: 1125856