Promoting For Growth, Joy And Community Spirit

08 March 2024

I’m here with Mary who is our promoter in Roadwater, a beautiful village nestled in Exmoor in West Somerset.

How long have you been promoting with Take Art, Mary?

I think it started here in 1998. I wasn't doing the promoting myself so much.

And what do you enjoy most about being a Take Art promoter?

I think meeting the artists and the technicians, and having people come together. I know lots of the audience so it's nice to see them as I may not get to see them very often. If it’s a successful event, it’s good for the village, good for the people around here, and for me.

What kind of shows do you like promoting most?

I like to promote things that I think are going to be interesting to people. I like bands, I like the dance, I really have a very eclectic taste if that’s the right word! If I see something in the Rural Touring menu and I think oh, that's going to be good, I get feedback from the village hall committee and then book it. I do feel I push the push the limit of my audience sometimes! A few people say to me ‘we don’t get anything like this, apart from in Roadwater’.

And how does that make you feel?

So very pleased. Very pleased. I feel very warm inside and it makes the huge amount of work worth it!

What shows have been your highlights over the years, Mary?

I love the dance shows we can get, and that circus day we had outside on the field. That went very well. We had a big audience, everyone bringing picnics and with so much going on, such a community spirit!

In 2017 we had a lovely group bringing their show The Head Wrap Diaries.  This appealed to all audiences and we had 3 generations enjoying a wonderful evening with plenty of interaction.  

Hair Wrap Diaries

In 2019 we had Shane Shambhu with Confessions of a Cockney Temple Dancer – a very popular performance with Shane having to rush back to London afterwards because his baby was due to arrive the next day.

Shane Shambhu

I have to mention Joan Cleville’s Dance Group with Solene who entranced us a few times with their wonderful shows. They held a residency here in 2019 to create and rehearse Antigone followed up in 2021 with their performance at our Hall.

I could mention many more but unfortunately time goes so quickly and my memory isn’t as good as it used to be!

What benefits do you think there are to Take Art shows coming to Roadwater?

I think they just broaden all our minds a bit to the arts. The shows make us think, which is really good. And I think they just opens people's minds a bit to the issues in the shows; people can see how interesting other people's lives are through the performance.

We’d never be able to go to see anything like what we get from Take Art because we wouldn't go out and spend £20 or £25 on a ticket, where we’re not quite sure what we’re going to see. Whereas we can spend £10 on a ticket, not travel, and get something quality, which opens our minds.

There may be someone reading this interview and feeling putting on shows in their community is something they want to do. What wisdom would you pass on to those people?

Not everything is going to go right! Be ready for the unexpected and enjoy the performances that you have. The biggest thing is to try not to worry about getting a big enough audience. Definitely don't give up if things don't go according to plan, all kinds of things happen, the performance company might be held up in traffic or something but it all works out. Audiences keep growing so don’t give up if the first one has a small crowd, word gets round.

Most importantly, you do need a small band of dedicated, enthusiastic people who help on a regular basis.  I am exceedingly lucky with my group, I wouldn’t and I couldn’t do promoting without them.