5 July 2011

NI Connections Programe for Legacy Trust UK

Beat’s Life Is A Carnival programme and event on 24 July 2011 is funded by Legacy Trust UK’s Connections programme, managed by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

We now have Liftoff. Life Is A Carnival is the closing event of the Beat’s Liftoff to 2012 project for the Connections programme. Liftoff opened in 2009 with the Fly Butterfly spectacle on Belfast City Hall.

About Connections and the Legacy Trust

The Legacy Trust UK is an independent charity set up to create a lasting cultural and sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games across the UK. The Trust is a Principal Funder of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival, part of the cultural celebrations for London 2012. For further information, please visit Legacy Trust UK.

Connections is Legacy Trust UK’s programme in Northern Ireland. The programme aspires to reach out to and connect with disparate cultural elements, connecting cultures and inspiring excellence across and between art and sport, prioritising engagement and forming new partnerships with all communities in Northern Ireland. The Connections programme is managed by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

London 2012 Open Weekend, 22–24 July

Life is a Carnival is part of the London 2012 Open Weekend, marking a year to the London Olympic Games. Between now and 2012, Games-inspired events will be taking place right around the UK. This year’s London 2012 Open Weekend, supported by BP, takes place this weekend. The nationwide programme features art, dance, film, sport events and more. There’s something for everyone!

Legacy Trust UK Connections – Connecting Cultures: Inspiring Excellence

Beat Carnival’s Liftoff programme and partners

Beat’s initial project plan started by declaring the intention: ‘Leading physical theatre, circus and gymnastics partners will research, devise and provide collaborative training for a wide range of diverse participants – creating public showcase performances in 2009, 2010 and 2011.’ During the programme we have brought leading artistic practitioners from Ireland, the UK, Europe and Brazil to be Artists In Residence at The Beat Carnival Centre in Belfast, inspiring and training our own artists and community participants to do great things. We have produced large-scale events during the programme, with unique new performance that audience feedback said, ‘has raised the bar in Belfast!’ And, new groups. specialising in new areas of work, have been formed through the collaborations in the Liftoff project.

Beat created its Liftoff project for the LTUK Connections programme to work with a number of strategic partner organisations and support them to deliver new developmental ventures.

The Strategic Arts Partners and new ‘legacy’ groups formed

Bruiser Theatre Company

BTC produces touring physical theatre productions and education and training projects of the highest quality. Its work is accessible to all with performances and workshops carried out in both mainstream and community venues. Its work aims to open up theatre and drama to as wide an audience and participant base as possible, allowing participants to express themselves creatively, build confidence and develop their career potential. The new ‘legacy’ Bruiser Beat Carnival Group was formed in 2009, the first year of the Liftoff project. The group is made up of between 15 and 20 young people aged between 14 and 19, with around a dozen young people from the group taking part in each Liftoff project. In Year One the group took part in both the Look Up and Fly Butterfly events, as well as participating in a ‘training for excellence’ programme through Bruiser’s Summer Schools supported by Beat/Liftoff. In Fly Butterfly they had responsibility for a large, multi-person puppet that led a parade towards City Hall and then performed on stage.

This link between Carnival Arts and Physical Theatre through Puppetry has continued to be their focus within the Liftoff programme. In 2010 the group worked with four 4m tall marionettes, in groups of three learning to manipulate and control these puppets during street performance. Beat again supported The Bruiser Summer Schools through the Liftoff project, to run a training for excellence programme in 2010 that involved high quality physical theatre plus sessions with an experienced puppeteer.

Circus Bone Idle

Circus Bone Idle is the first professionally constituted circus performance and street arts company based in Belfast, established by four highly trained circus performers and artists. A constant strive to investigate and improve their own practice and push the boundaries of their art form led to the formation of Circus Bone Idle, whose aim it is to advance circus by incorporating other art forms like music, theatre, carnival arts and performance, whilst maintaining the highest possible level of skill and creating visually stimulating spectacles. Circus Bone Idle’s particular role in the Liftoff project has been developing the new Vertical Dance Group’s skills and performances and also working with Rathgael Gymnastics to add new physical theatre elements to the gymnastic skills. The vertical dance performance is a showcase highlight of Life Is A Carnival.

Streetwise Community Circus

Streetwise Community Circus Workshops offers workshops throughout Northern Ireland, where participants learn a wide range of circus skills. The Liftoff project has supported a high level of specialist circus training, particularly with disabled participants. Again, the best practitioners have been brought to Belfast for training residencies, whether from the UK or from the USA. This has resulted in regular specialist workshops programmes in Belfast and the formation of a new Streetwise Community Circus Disability Performance Group. This group has enabled talented disabled artists to develop performance pieces to be showcased in the Liftoff events, including Life Is A Carnival. A legacy aim is to establish this group as a permanent part of Belfast’s cultural life and another long-term aim is to create a touring show performed by artists living with learning disabilities.

Strategic Sports Partner

Rathgael Gymnastics & Trampolining Club

RGTC is an award winning sports club of the highest standard. Their purpose-built gymnasium includes apparatus required for Artistic Gymnastics and the long-term plan is to provide a centre of excellence for the North Down area. Their gymnasts have represented Ireland and Northern Ireland in Acrobatic Gymnastics, Women’s Artistic Gymnastics and Tumbling: all at National and International competitions such as Junior Commonwealth Games, UK School Games, Northern Europeans, IFSA Cup and All Ireland Championships. The young people of Rathgael Gymnastics have brought a tremendous new element of physical spectacle and skill to Beat’s outdoor parades and performances. There is an interesting ‘legacy’ connection: Arlene who is the Club Manager and Senior Coach, was one of the young gymnasts in the core of 240 young people that Beat worked intensively with throughout 2000, to create a week of spectacular performance representing Northern Ireland at the London Millennium Dome over 10 years ago.