Byker has the best seat in the house

Image: North News 

As we know, Northern Stage is still closed but fear not as the theatre is going pop up and taking a music programme on the road to  Byker estate in Newcastle. 

This has been made possible by funding from by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness and Well Newcastle Gateshead.

 Musicians will play live while residents are encouraged to come out onto their doorsteps to listen and sing along, in line with social distancing rules. 

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, who part-funded the programme, said:

“As soon as I heard about this idea it excited me. It’s a really open, accessible project designed for the good of the community, bringing everyone together. It‘s about building a sense of pride for local people within their neighbourhood, helping everyone feel safer.” 

Northern Stage is committed to being open and accessible to all communities, in particular seeking to identify and work with those that are currently underserved by creative and cultural activity.  

Northern Stage Associate Director, Mark Calvert said

“It’s been incredibly strange for me for all us during the last 4 months and this project couldn’t have come along soon enough for both the Byker community and our freelance community. It’s so important for our industry and our region that we find ways to unite by creating things together. This project is hopefully the first in a series of projects that supports our independent artists and makers in the North East while also bringing some happiness to this brilliant Byker community.”

The company’s main rehearsal space is next to Byker Primary School and Northern Stage plays a lead role in the Byker Children and Young People’s Partnership (BCYPP), a pioneering initiative comprised of almost 50 organisations working together to raise aspirations, enrich lives and achieve social change.

During the lockdown, the team quickly adapted and supported the changing needs of the community.  Northern Stage Associate Director Louie Ingham explains,

“We’ve been working in Byker for two and a half years now, making great creative things happen with our community”. We’ve also talked to residents and the Byker Community Trust about how we can make the show accessible, where to set up in different locations around the Estate to make sure everyone can see and hear from their own homes.”

Northern Stage believes in the social, emotional and political power of theatre to challenge the status quo. A spirit of rebellion runs through all our work and we champion boldness and accessibility. 

Louie and the team have been taking song requests on their delivery rounds to compile a ‘people’s playlist’ so residents can enjoy some of their favourite tunes from their gardens, doorsteps and balconies. 

Well Newcastle Gateshead is one of the pathfinders of Well North, a Public Health England funded iniQaQve across 10 areas in the North of England to improve the health of the poorest people fastest. 

Well Newcastle Gateshead Programme Director, Mark Mulqueen said, 

“We are using the Well Newcastle Gateshead Arts Fund to support community-focused projects that celebrate their place and their culture, with the aim of improving the health and wellbeing of our communities. The Doorstep Music project is just one of them!” 

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