Hello, everyone! Dane here (your friendly arts centre social media manager), and today I’m bringing you our second ever monthly update. September’s been a strange month, as you’ll soon see as you continue reading. We’ve dealt with tragedy, tightened up our COVID-19 protocols in line with the latest government guidance and witnessed the relaunch of several of our regular events. Read on to find out what’s new…
Music in the Garden
Music in the Garden took place on Sunday 20th September from 12pm – 6pm. Building on from the success of the live music on the Saturdays of our Lockdown Art Exhibition, our goal was to provide a safe outdoor space for groups of up to six to listen to some live music and to enjoy drinks and snacks via table service.
We had some fantastic performers throughout the day, ranging from our scheduled acts to the performers during the Open Micsolate showcase and the open mic at the end. Acts included:
The Ilk: Possibly the best band in the world, although I’m a little bit biased because I’m in it. Consisting of Twangling Jack Ford, Dane Cobain and whoever else shows up, The Ilk took the opening spot to demo a few new tunes and get the ball rolling.
Esther Hayes: Singer-songwriter Esther Hayes paid us a visit during our Lockdown Art Exhibition and so we leapt at the chance to invite her back to share a few tunes with us. She played a cracking set that was perfect for the sunshine, and particularly impressive because she’d only just got back from Berlin!
Jordanna Blake: Jordanna is something of a favourite amongst our regulars, and with good reason. Her dreamy, folk-poppy sound is inspired by everyone from The Brian Jonestown Massacre to Little Eva, and as always she delivered a fantastic blend of originals and cover material.
Splash the Cash: This local Johnny Cash tribute group has been a favourite of mine for some time, and so it was great to invite them along and to see them perform post-lockdown. They delivered a stripped down acoustic set of Johnny Cash classics that got everyone in the mood for a little socially-distanced dancing.
Bob Newell: Bob has been a friend of the arts centre for many years now and is a familiar face at our open mic nights and Sunday jams. An entertainer through and through, he treated us to a cracking set of covers that put a smile on our faces and led us perfectly into the early evening.
Open Micsolate Showcase: Hosted by Paul Cooper, the Open Micsolate showcase was dedicated to showcasing some of the talent in the highly popular Open Micsolate Facebook group that emerged online during lockdown. Paul hand-picked a few different acts to perform including Kit Goff, Nick Atkinson and more!
Open Mic: To round the day off, we also hosted an open mic, although unfortunately as demand was high, we weren’t able to squeeze everyone in. Still, we saw some great performers here including guitar and vocal duo HartLang and the enigmatic and hilariously entertaining Marionio Pionio.
At present, due to the weather getting colder and COVID restrictions getting tighter, we have no immediate plans to host another Music in the Garden event. We’d love to bring them back in the spring though, so watch this space!
Film Crews and Other News
With COVID restrictions tightening, we’ve been fortunate to have a number of other bookings to keep us going, including a team from Channel Five who filmed in our Old Church space for an upcoming TV programme.
Not to be outdone, Paul Mason and his team (including resident lighting specialists Gideon Rainey and Pete Sutton and mixing and camera guru Mark Williams) filmed their Jimi Hendrix 50th anniversary commemorative show, which was aired on TV on London Live. Don’t worry if you missed it, though. You can rent it here using the code WAC2020 for a 30% discount. Half of all proceeds will go towards our upkeep.
Speaking of Gideon and Pete, they also lit the arts centre up in red as part of the third instalment of #LightItInRed, a campaign to highlight the challenges that the events industry is facing during the current crisis. You can view photos of that further down this post.
In other news, we’ve updated our TripAdvisor page, along with our new branding and a few more recent photos. We’d hugely appreciate it if you could take a moment to head over there and post a short review so that more people can discover (and support) Wycombe Arts Centre.
Finally, we’ve created a short feedback survey to learn more about how you want to hear from us and what you want to hear about. If you have a couple of minutes going spare, we’d hugely appreciate it if you could fill it out so we can better service our community.
September has also been a tough month as we lost not one but two people who were near and dear to the arts centre. Lionel M. Macauley and Dr. Frances Alexander impacted the lives of many of our staff and volunteers, and we’d like to take a moment here to acknowledge their passing.
Lionel M Macauley
Lionel Macauley was a key member of our company-in-residence, Signdance Collective, as well as a talented actor and poet and a good friend to many of us on the arts centre team. His contribution to The Time Project was the soundtrack of the Lockdown Arts Exhibition, and he was due to be heading to Croatia with the Signdance team before his life was tragically and needlessly taken.
We’ve all been dealing with Lionel’s passing in our own ways, and it’s been particularly difficult for Isolte and David from Signdance. Dane produced a memorial episode for The Arts Show on Wycombe Sound where he played some of Lionel’s work, and Tabitha wrote a short poem in Lionel’s memory. We also played his contribution to The Time Project at Music in the Garden and asked attendees for a round of applause at the end in Lionel’s memory.
Dr. Frances Alexander
We also had to say goodbye to Dr. Frances Alexander, a familiar face to many in and around Wycombe as well as an inspiration to all of us here at the arts centre. Frances acted as a mentor to Dr. Caroline Eliot from our volunteer team and has been a long-term supporter of the arts centre, even donating the chairs that we were sitting on when we heard the news.
Dr. Frances was such an important figure to the town that we’d be surprised if a number of tributes didn’t come out in the coming months. It was Frances’ idea to create the Litter Lion that was displayed in town as an attempt to clean up our streets, and she was also the person who suggested the name of the Swan theatre. She did so much for the town, including for the arts, that it’s impossible to put into words. Everyone remembers her for her involvement in politics and the environment, but we remember her for her many talents, including her ability to carry a tune.
Honestly, we’re still in shock and dealing with our grief, and so we haven’t had time to fully process these losses. However, the hope is that in the coming months, we can further honour their memories through art installations, fundraising events and more.
- The Rock Project is back at the arts centre, running inclusive music learning and performance events for all ages on Thursday nights.
- We’re working in partnership with Wycombe Youth Action, Chiltern Rangers CIC, Flux Photographic and more to bring you FREE creative workshops for young people in and around Wycombe as part of #BreakingBarriers 3.
- Humming Bee Yoga will be running sessions every Tuesday evening starting Tuesday 3rd November.
- Juliet of The Tired Dressmaker is gearing up for her free Bucks Sewing Bee taster session on Saturday November 21st.
- Resident curator Tabitha Gunstone-Pollock is hatching plans to turn our Cafe Space into an ongoing gallery/cafe with prints, paintings and more available for purchase (or you can just pop in for a coffee).
- Artists Rupert (AKA Kalkalata) and Ruth October are working on setting up some screenprinting workshops, starting with a taster session where you can design your own unique Christmas cards. This will take place on the afternoon and evening of Friday 27th November, with more details to follow.
- We’re having a new boiler and heating system installed in the Old Church space. It’s currently all running on schedule and work is set to be completed by the end of October. This is a very exciting development which will enable us to heat the large space much more economically and to run more events over the winter months.
- We’ve saved the best for last. We’ll be hosting a Christmas Art and Craft Fair on the 14th and 15th November. Taking place from 10am – 5pm, over 27 artists and makers will be showing and selling their work. We’ve planned the event in line with the latest COVID-19 guidance and will be ensuring that it’s safe for all, so do come along. Interested in exhibiting? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and say that you read about the fair on our website!
We’re always looking for people who are interested in volunteering or helping out, whether you’re interested in hosting events or whether you’re just looking to get more involved in the local artistic community. We also want to hear your feedback about our lockdown exhibition, so please do get in touch if you have anything to share! In the meantime, you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for further updates. We look forward to seeing you again soon!