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You might have heard of Tramshed Theatre an inclusive theatre company working across Fylde and Wyre. If you haven’t Tramshed welcome individuals from all over the northwest and pride themselves in ensuring that no member at TramShed is excluded, only celebrated.

In this regular new column we will be joined by guest TramShed Theatre practitioners as they share their experiences, thoughts, feelings and achievements during a time of online delivery. 

Director Zac Hackett tells us more. As we cast our memory back to this time last year. In March 2020, we were faced with the devastating reality of COVID-19 and the impact this had on our organisation. Being labeled as ‘non-essential’ was hard for the team to accept, given we know the value of our work here at TramShed. But the safety of our members, volunteers and staff is of paramount importance, so that was our priority. All programmes were postponed, meaning workshops, performances and events were cancelled. Members were isolated, staff without work and I knew I had to take drastic action to ensure TramShed’s survival. With the support of the team, we submitted a funding application to Arts Council England for Emergency COVID-19 funding. Given the hundreds who apply to this respected organisation every month, we were beyond delighted and relieved to be successful and backed by this vital lifeline. 

Somewhere Over the Rainbow was very much seen as a pilot. This new voyage of digital discovery meant that staff went through extensive training to ensure our online programme was accessible. The organisation also developed with branding updates, new equipment and a website overhaul. Throughout the project we delivered 119 inclusive performing arts workshops over Zoom, reached 76% of our membership base and performed LIVE via Facebook to 156 households across the country. We were even shortlisted by Curious Minds for the North West Cultural Education Award as Finalists for the Lockdown Inclusion award.

Fast forward 12 months on from the start of the pandemic and I would not have thought for a second we would still not be offering face to face workshops! Yet in true TramShed style, we are fighting on and doing our absolute best to keep providing a creative, inclusive and safe environment to engage our members. Following a recent application to the Arts Council England Project grants in November 2020, we are now exceptionally fortunate to be funded once again. 

We launched our exciting new project on Monday 22nd February and the team were keen to get started. Learning from our tried and tested approach in Somewhere Over the Rainbow, this project will be all about the lockdown experiences of our membership. As always, the content will come directly from them, giving each member a voice within our community. We will stage several weeks of devised workshops to create project content and then the team will begin writing scripts. The project will run in three separate strands:

1. To create devised short stories about our members lockdown experiences, turned into podcasts, include bespoke doorstep photography and a montage performance to showcase content.

2. To create a summer show performance, devised in house and written by the team. This could be anything from Shakespeare to a Jumanji remake! 

3. A bespoke inclusive training package for our volunteer team and staff, reaching out to external organisations such as Chickenshed. Performances will be a real highlight within the project and staged in July 2021 via Facebook Live. These will be ticketed events and details on how to attend as an audience member will be released in the next few months. 

The past year has been a challenging journey for TramShed, we have turned that into a positive and not only created a more inclusive theatre within our community but developed as individuals and an organisation as a direct result. It is so very important to stay connected and we know at TramShed, the show WILL go on! Make sure you check back in every week and follow the project progress!

#apartofbeingapart Find out more about TramShed Theatre

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