As we come to the close of 2021 and reflect back on another year that has been significantly affected by the pandemic, we have so much to be proud of. The year has thrown up challenges we had not experienced in the 30 years that the organisation has been running and we rose to them well. Here are just a few of the highlights:
- Inside Out Dorset 2021 – with strong themes of sustainability, land use and lifecycles, humans and the environment, we attracted around 27,500 visitors. Across two weeks in September, we staged 104 live performances featuring 24 UK and international artists alongside opportunities for 1,280 participants to join in. Total Theatre reviewed the festival and said: “For many artists with an interest in true environmentalism, decisions were made (even before Covid forced their hand) to … make work that was not ‘about’ environmentalism, but was truly environmentally conscious in its approach.”
- Commissioning artists – we commissioned local and regional artists including Angel Exit Theatre, Isabel Jobbins, Bersey & Wimhurst and The Working Boys Club. Sophie Fretwell’s set and costume design in one of the world premieres with The Shouting Mute and the world premiere of Geophonic by Lorna Rees received notable critical feedback from The Guardian. We enjoyed a UK premiere by Devon-based Red Herring as part of the final leg of their European tour. And designer/maker Emma Dumeresque repurposed wardrobes as hand sanitiser stations.
- Increasing digital output – Dorset Youth Dance and The Remix created new films, linked to their performances at Inside Out Dorset festival and Street in the Park. We live streamed Gaia to Facebook, reaching almost 7,000 people, and featured blogs and animations online as part of the festival programme. DYD’s Tess film and The Remix Christmas celebration were extremely well made and received great feedback.
- Working with communities – throughout the year and associated to the festival, we worked with different communities in ways that were really well received. Holly Miller made wonderful puppets with different groups in Weymouth and our own Michaela’s choreography with groups for Street in the Park were just two lovely examples of this, alongside all the great work of The Remix and Dorset Youth Dance and the schools programme for the festival.
- Adoption of the Art in the Landscape – a strategy for Connecting People to Nature was rolled out to all 46 Areas of Outstanding National Beauty across England and Wales.
- Industry advice and support for local artists – we retained our support for artists by offering mentoring, advice, training outdoors, guidance on a range of subjects, including fund-raising, company development, artistic creation and brokering relationships.
- Internationalism – we registered as a sponsor to bring across European companies and managed to present the Germany company Dundu twice: at Inside Out Dorset festival and in Milton Keynes. We sustained our two European partnerships (Green Carpet and LAND) and secured Erasmus + funding to start Working LANDscapes with new partners in LAND from Slovakia, France and Norway.
- Implementing a new brand – we successfully rolled out new branding and a new website, in the most comprehensive re-brand we have undertaken since changing from Dorset Dance to Activate.
We wish our audiences and participants, our supporters, our partners and our artists a very safe and, of course, a creative Christmas 2021.