BARN is a collective theatre initiative, facilitated by Take Art, that supports Somerset’s emerging theatre-making sector to develop, test and showcase new work in a predominantly rural context.
Supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, it was inspired by the North American rural tradition of barn-raising: in our case, the collective action of an emerging theatre-making sector to build and sustain Somerset’s theatre infrastructure.
BARN Phase 1 (2017-19)
Phase 1 started a long-term development process to address grassroots issues arising from an historical lack of critical mass and investment. The programme featured several activity strands that included an Ideas Fund; access and business support; work in progress events; showcase platforms; and an annual BARNfest.
Three years on, based on evidence reported by theatre-makers, companies and feedback from events such as BARNfest, Somerset’s theatre infrastructure feels healthier, more connected and better supported.
BARN Interim Year (2020)
In the midst of the pandemic, we were delighted to receive an offer of emergency funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation in relation to BARN. This, in turn, enabled us to create our own modest emergency fund for Somerset’s theatre-making community (now allocated). In partnership with Theatre Orchard, we were able to support individuals who weren’t eligible and/or hadn’t received funding from other emergency funds.
The fund has also enabled us to sponsor Emma Bettridge to become a member of the National Freelance Task Force, a collective to help ensure that the 70% of the theatre/performance workforce who are self-employed or freelance can be better represented in vital conversations about the sector’s response to the current crisis.
We are now developing activity for the early autumn that will complement our rural outdoors programme and will enable theatre-makers to present work for small audiences in a safe, creative and social-distanced way.
In the meantime, do check out the One Minute Theatre Festival, a commission of 35 short films produced by Somerset theatre-makers over lockdown.
BARN Phase 2 (2021)
Thanks to the ongoing support from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, we are now planning a BARN programme for next year that will build on the outcomes of Phase 1. Since we submitted our application, of course, we are now all managing the ongoing impact of Covid-19. We’re taking time to consider, in consultation with our colleagues, the best, and most appropriate, way forward.
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