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Founder of Filotico Arts, Livia Filotico, talks to Rich Mix's Anna Woods about their new story telling event 'Magic and Power in Alf layla wa layla' - where Egyptian storyteller Chirine El Ansary, and mythographer and writer Marina Warner, invite you to listen to, engage with and discuss stories of magical transformations from The Thousand and One Nights. Storytelling is an age-old and universal art form, yet it’s not huge in the UK – not on the mainstream arts circuit, anyway. We have had an increasing number of storytelling nights (such as the fantastic Crick Crack Club events) here at Rich Mix and they are always popular – do you get the sense there’s a hunger for more dedicated storytelling events?Absolutely. To give you an example, Chirine and I are running a development scheme for emerging storytellers. I hoped it’d be popular of course but the number and variety of applications we received kind of shocked me. There definitely is a hunger for more events, more training opportunities, and for a much deeper integration between storytelling and other art forms. The number of gifted storytellers and emerging talent out there definitely begs for that.I think there are many reasons but one of them is that storytelling has a pretty unique ability to connect audiences and performers, and at times like the ones we’re living, human empathy and a sense of wonder are much needed. It’s something we as humans have always sought in one form or another, and it seems unlikely we’ll ever stop.Storytellers have always used their art to bring communities together and to put into words the deepest values of their communities. That’s why they’ve always been so valued in society and looked up to as guides.Mythographer Marina Warner makes some very interesting points about the significance of myths and fairytales. How did you come to hear about Marina’s work?   Marina’s work takes all my passions and bundles them into a gorgeous mix of inspiration. I stumbled upon her work thanks to Treadwell’s, London’s premier esoteric bookshop, where I worked for over three years. I found Phantasmagoria on one of the shop’s shelves, on a particularly quiet Sunday afternoon, took it home and read it in in one breath. I was fresh out of university, where I graduated in anthropology and media, and the book is all about exploring the cultural history of spirits, unpacking symbols and metaphors and arguing for a radical imagination. You can imagine how excited it made me. I actually cried as I read through it. The next book of hers I read was Stranger Magic, and it inspired this event. The book is about feminism, magic and how 17th century Europe objectified the East. And obviously I was in love.A lot of people will be familiar with at least some of the stories from the epic The Thousand and One Nights, do you think that people coming to your event will gain a new take on it?Absolutely. I think it’s fair to say The Nights have had an interesting and complicated history. Fetishised by the West for centuries, admired by some and dismissed by others, I think The Nights have so much to say that hasn’t been heard yet.For example, in this event we want to focus on how The Nights refuse to be pinned down to any one form, and how subversive that act actually is. Their shape shifts, flexes, adapts and mirrors a cosmology that is extremely open to The Other. This is in stark contrast with most post-enlightenment European cosmologies, where knowledge is fixed and narratives prescribed.So along with feminism, oral literature and magic as tools for political subversion and cultural re-appropriation, we will also be looking at The Nights in a colonial and post-colonial context.Part of the event will be a discussion of ‘the role stories can play in creating new futures’. I’ve heard this discussed in relation to science-fiction writing as well – it seems like right now we have a great need for stories that can imagine alternatives to broken systems. Can we expect an opportunity for the audience to join in with this imaginative act? I am certain there will be at least a few budding storytellers in attendance…Before I could read, my dad acted out bits of Azimov’s Foundation for me. My first crush, at the age of 4, was one of my sister’s classmates, as he would tell me stories from Aesop before bedtime. At the age of 14 I began tabletop role-playing and around the same time I was introduced to magic and paganism. I might not have realised it at the time but all these things fulfilled a very similar need: they allowed me to get lost in alternatives so that when I came back to the room, I always had a lingering feeling of enchantment and possibility. These stories and the tools and frameworks people around me used to recount them, allowed me to think in ‘perhaps’ rather than in absolutes. And that is the most valuable gift anyone can receive and give. It’s the kind of gift that prevents wars from breaking.We hope that everyone attending this event, whatever their views and their level of familiarity with the stories we’re presenting – which let’s not forget are all related to magic - might be inspired and comfortable enough to contribute their ideas. We are leaving a good 30 minutes for a Q&A session and another full hour after the formal part of the event is over for people to chat and discuss possible collaborations. My absolute dream is for a bard, a poet, a novelist and a ritualist to meet on the night and start some kind of artistic collaboration. Or rather, to think up an awesome solution to broken systems.Livia Filotico is an events organiser, arts marketing consultant and founder of Filotico Arts. She works with arts organisations, universities, cultural institutions and individuals to understand, nurture and promote ideas of enchantment, storytelling and myth making within the arts and cultural sector. @LiviaFilotico
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This weekend the 1Xtra and Mobo approved Silvastone is headlining the all-star A'friquency launch party, showcasing the finest contemporary music coming out of Africa and the Diaspora. We spoke to the DJ, producer and vocalist extraordinaire to find out what we can expect from his set and the future. Hi Silvastone, thanks for joining us. How’s your summer been so far? My summer has been blessed thanks. Mainly long studio hours finishing up my new forthcoming EP. You’ve also been travelling a fair bit. Where’s been your favourite place to play this year?Well, this year I'd say that the best place I've been to would be SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas USA. It was a crazy experience. Did 3 showcases out there amongst some of the biggest artists in the world. Felt like every big artist was out there and the crowd response to each of my performances was fantastic. The whole city was buzzing those 5 days the festival had taken over its streets. I've never experienced a place so vibrant like that. You’ve worked with an incredible number of esteemed artists in various capacities, but which has been your most interesting collaboration? Yeah they been quite alot but I would say working with Chaka Demus and Pliers on the "Skatta (Remix)" last year has been probably the most interesting. So many amusing stories about that whole hook up - from sending Chaka Demus the audio to them both flying in to film the music video. I grew up listening to his music as a child and played many of their tunes whilst DJing. To be working with one of your legends is a dream come true. What’s your view on the afrobeats scene right now?The Afrobeats scene is in a great place right now with so many artist doing amazing things. I feel that's it's only going to get better. Who are you feeling at the moment?I'd say right now. I'm feeling everyone who is pushing the scene, its sounds and opening new doors. Quite a few people doing that right now. Big up everyone.You’re bringing your amazing 5 piece band to A’friquency this Friday. What can we expect from the live show?This is gonna be such a dope show. I'll be performing alot of the new EP material I've been working on and bringing out some special guests that are on the project. Of course they will also be some songs from my first EP 'Transitions' in the set list too. Can't wait!What aspects of a live performance do you get most excited about?I'd say its the rehearsals I love, especially whilst trying out new ideas with the band. But, nothing and I mean nothing beats vibing with the audience directly and having the place liven up when you are on stage. That feeling of people reacting to your music creation like that is priceless.What’s on the horizon for you for the rest of 2016?Wow, 2016 is the entrance to my 2017. I'm getting ready to drop my second EP  "LEVELS" shortly and dropping more visuals and ofcourse more shows. Got some more travel lined up too - ofcourse. Look out for me at A3C Festival in Atlanta next month. And follow me on the socials to find out where you can also catch me live near you and news about the new music. SilvaSays!!!!Africori presents A’FRIQUENCY PRESENTS SILVASTONE (LIVE), DJ EDU, NEW AGE MUZIK, DJ NEPTIZZLE, BEATING HEART. FRIDAY 9 SEPTEMBER
Theatre Collective Acrylick came to Rich Mix earlier this year as part of our Radical Ideas season with their debut show Jagged Edge, an immersive and multi-media vision of future East London. Not only did they sell out their show (requiring three extra rows of seating to fit everyone) but they also sold loads of tickets well in advance, an impressive feat for any emerging theatre company. How did they manage to generate such interest in a new collective with a totally new show? We asked them. 1) BE SOCIAL“At the start of the project, before applying to Rich Mix’s Radical Ideas, we thought it important to form a cohesive look and identity for the show - so we created a Twitter account, Facebook page and website.”2) BE VISUAL“We designed a logo and some initial images to use whenever promoting the show, so we had a strong visual association. At the end of our show we handed out posters and flyers to audience members to keep this association going.”3) REACH OUT“We set about following and interacting with organisations in the theatre world (and outside of it) whose work connected with the themes of policing, xenophobia, gentrification and resistance that made our show.”4) OFFER PERKS“Our crowdfunder successfully raised £1500 and it also generated lots of interest. It helped us to involve interested people with the production from the start. We offered perks ranging from stickers for a £5 donation, to a stage combat workshop for a £50 donation. Everyone who donated got a personalised thank you email, a shout out on social media and updates as the show progressed along - so we gathered and maintained their interest as we put the show together.”5) WIDE APPEAL IS A STRENGTH“As a multimedia show, and one that engages with current political issues, Jagged Edge lends itself to connecting with different crowds - theatre, dance, film as well as activists, political commentators and academics. We used this as a strength, contacting many organisations - community campaigns, political groups, academic, performing arts, festivals, filmmakers, comedians and historic archives to invite them to see the show, to follow our work and to give their thoughts on the production before our premiere.”6) TARGET NICHE MEDIA“To generate further interest, we connected with independent publications, like Skin Deep magazine, submitting adverts and articles about the issues our show dealt with and how this connected with their readership. This helped get word out and share more of the story we were trying to tell.”7) DOCUMENTATION“We asked some artists to capture our premiere and rehearsals and produce a trailer with reviews, pictures and video. We’ll use this to secure future performances in more venues, building more of a name for ourselves on the success we have achieved already.”Becka Hudson, Acrylick. Acrylick are performing pieces from Jagged Edge as part of a festival about displacement and gentrification at the London School of Economics this September 28-30th. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and check their website for details. Get in touch
Amy Clare Tasker is the director of Home Is Where, a production which weaves headphone verbatim, music, movement and multimedia together. Amy kindly allowed us to reproduce part of her blog, where she writes about the challenges and excitement of bringing new work to the stage...Devising is done and we’re on to the next phase: shaping all these impulses, elements, and ideas into a coherent and cohesive script.Guleraana and I got together with a stack of sticky notes (one of my all-time favourite creative tools!) and made a list of the Things We Could Do: ideas of visual moments, technical possibilities, thematic concepts, character relationships… Those became magenta sticky notes: 'political context soundscape,' 'tweets from outside HQ,' 'headphone verbatim broadcast projection,' 'lighting actors with torches in blackout.'Some of those ideas have narratives intrinsically attached to them, so we started putting them together with plot points, things we knew we wanted to happen during the course of the play, and developments in character relationships.Before long, our sticky notes found their way into a rough 3-act structure, which Guleraana has sent off to the cast and creative team. Now she’s working on putting dialogue into the framework, I’m combing through our 30+ hours of verbatim interview material to choose sections to feature, Yaiza is starting to write music for the opening soundscape, and Paula is sketching out a choreography to teach the cast on our first day of rehearsal. Clarissa is creating beautiful flyers and getting the word out to audiences about the show (among about a thousand other things – producing is a hugely varied and demanding job!).In a perfect world, we’d have more time (read: funding) to develop the overall structure with the cast, layering in their impulses, new character discoveries, alternative narrative ideas, more complex technical designs, and working together to fill in the details of the big picture.  As it stands, we won’t know until we start our rehearsals at Rich Mix (in just two weeks’ time!) exactly how all the elements will all come together, and then we’ll have just 8 rehearsal days before Home Is Where takes the stage.But this is a surprising and fruitful way to make theatre, an exhilarating risk we take with our work, and I am so excited to share our hot-off-the-press play. It’s been years of development (we started interviewing Third Culture Kids in 2014) and yet it still feels 'soon' to be bringing Home Is Where to its first audience. And in some ways, this performance at Rich Mix is just the beginning: from here, we’re planning a longer run of performances in London (probably after further edits to the script, another rehearsal period, and an expansion of our design team), and eventually a tour around the UK.Book now to see Home is Where on Fri 2 Sep – and check out Guleraana’s free pre-show workshop, using performance games and inclusive discussion to delve into the themes of the play: home, culture, and belonging. The workshop is offered in partnership with HOPE not hate as part of their #MoreInCommon campaign. September 2-4 is a national Weekend of HOPE.To read the full-length version of this piece, please visit Amy's blog.
Mathieu Ajan was the winner of one of our Pitch to the Mix series. He also produced an event for our annual Rich Mix Youth Takeover Festival. We asked Mathieu to write a few words about his involvement with us over the last couple of years. Are you looking to get involved in the arts or live performance? Keep an eye on our Young Creatives page and follow @RMYAmbassadors for upcoming opportunities.Rich Mix has had a massive impact on me not only as an artist but also as a person. Trying to break into the creative industry can be a rather daunting experience, especially when you don’t know where to start.My journey with Rich Mix all started 2 years ago with me randomly scrolling through my twitter and seeing the opportunity to get involved through a scheme called Pitch to the Mix.From day one Rich Mix offered me unrivaled support. I remember first walking through the doors of Rich Mix in preparation for my presentation for Pitch to the Mix, instead of the dragons' den experience I expected, I was greeted by a room of people who genuinely wanted to help and was matched with a space within Rich Mix to bring my idea to life.This initial interaction with Rich Mix led to my first ever exhibition in an amazing venue, which I wouldn’t have traditionally been able to afford. After this experience Rich Mix offered me more support through mentorship and the chance to be a part of their Rich Mix Youth Takeover Festival where I was able to curate a second event in their Main Space.One of the biggest milestones in my career was this year where I was granted the opportunity to have a solo exhibition running for 30 days in Rich Mix’s upstairs gallery space. Rich Mix provided me with financial support and a dedicated team to help bring my solo exhibition to life and was always there when I needed a bit of advice or support which went a very long way.My experience with Rich Mix has had a huge impact and unlocked countless opportunities not only for myself but other emerging artists. Rich Mix to me is much more than just a building, for me it’s a place, which is defined by its people and their shared passion and commitment to supporting and celebrating emerging talent of all shapes and sizes.Mathieu Ajan, May 2016
Nov 25, 2015With the comprehensive spending review under way, we’re keeping a close eye on news sites (and twitter) to see how the arts have fared.At Rich Mix, we’ve been very well supported by Rushanara Ali, our local MP, who came in to meet us and a number of the other arts organisations who live in our building. She sent a powerful letter of advocacy to the Treasury last month in anticipation of the spending review  - have a read of it here. In it, she outlines the need for continued funding to protect 'one of the richest and most vibrant arts scenes in the world.'  We’ll be reading the small print of the Chancellor’s statement to see if he truly intends to heed the voices of those speaking on behalf of the arts. Look forward to seeing your responses once we see the statement in more detail.Jane Earl, Chief Executive
Dec 1, 2015London is full of artist success stories. But for every artist who does get to the point of performance or exhibition, there are many who are sadly forced to abandon their big idea.As an arts charity, it’s an honour to be able to support emerging artists by giving them something that can be scarce in London – space. We hope that by giving artists a space where they can grow their work and a stage on which to perform it, we also give them the confidence to keep going with their creative projects. Working with funding bodies such as Arts Council England and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to support artists’ development, we have been able to help a huge number of artists realise their aspirations. We are also supported by the generous donations of individuals, and the income from ticket sales which goes directly back into the arts programme. In the last year we gave away 4,521 hours of free rehearsal space, supporting over 140 emerging artists. We're also proud to give Londoners the chance to see work from all over the world, often for free. More than 35,000 people enjoyed free arts and culture events at Rich Mix in 2014/15. Our Youth Takeover in August saw young people taking over the building for free workshops, gigs, theatre shows, and masterclasses. It was fantastic to work with young artists and help them to turn ideas into reality. There’s no shortage of talent – so it’s the responsibility of organisations such as ours to ensure that upcoming artists are given the opportunities to grow. Having faced a period of uncertainty where the future of Rich Mix was being debated, we have certainly had cause to think on what kind of gap would be left in our absence. That’s a lot of works of theatre, dance, spoken word, or visual art that London audiences might otherwise not have been able to see. That’s a lot of opportunities to expand our minds, see the world from different perspectives, and connect with other people that we might have otherwise missed. That’s a lot of success stories which might never have been told. #GivingTuesday gives us a good reason to talk about why arts funding and artist development programmes remain essential – and to consider all that artists give us in return.Image: writer and performer Alice Malseed in Jellyfish, which was part of our 2015 season of new works.
Dec 7, 2015This morning Arts Council England have been discussing progress on the first year of their Diversity and the Creative Case strand of work. As part of this, they have published statistics showing the composition of workforce in a number of their most significant organisations. Full details of the statistics can be found here.For Rich Mix, as an organisation which has had a long-standing commitment to diversity as a core part of our mission it was a great joy to see that in terms of the diversity of our workforce, we are making good progress when compared to our peers.  The ACE figures show that the total number of BAME staff averages out at 13.7% for NPOS whereas Rich Mix figures show almost 42%.We are also delighted to see the increase in successful Grants for the Arts bids from artists from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Over half of our programming is by BAME artists and we know how much the support of ACE has meant in giving them access to tools and resources to develop their practice further.We are still very conscious of the need to do even more to attract people from diverse backgrounds to come to work in our organisation. And we are grateful that we have an extremely diverse Board. Their contribution has been invaluable in supporting our thinking about programming, employment and community outreach.And as an aside it’s also good to see that our partners in the Future Arts Centres network are also leading the way in the diversity discussions and practice.Jane Earl, Chief Executive
Dec 31, 2015Working at an arts venue, it sometimes feels like we’ve got gigs, films, theatre, and exhibitions coming out of our ears (now there’s a bizarre mental image). And yet the staff here at Rich Mix apparently can’t get enough. From backstreet pubs to the Royal Festival Hall, we get around. And (proving we’re not totally London-centric) this year’s ‘staff picks’ list even includes a couple from beyond Zone 5. Here’s what we loved, here and elsewhere, in 2015:‘I really loved 1927’s ‘Golem’. The use of flawless live choreography against a forever moving digital landscape was mesmerising and very different from any theatre I’ve ever seen before. 1927 are definitely a company to watch out for!’ Nikki Smith, Events Coordinator‘I can’t split the difference between Lapalux and DJ Yoda here at Rich Mix – two immersive musical experiences that kept me dancing for days.’ Ben Skelton, Marketing Officer (Film and Events)‘Remixed Fest here in Feb. It was great to see the building so full of life, with amazing music in every space (even the lift). Everyone was loving the vibe – punters, artists, staff – even a few tenants snuck in to join the party!’ Rhiannon Wilkins, Arts & Culture Producer ‘HMS Morris at Festival No 6 in North Wales. It was great because: 1. Their music is an absolutely brilliant psychedelic mix of electro, pop and rock with really beautiful harmonies and they are incredible live. 2. Because I got to perform as one of their backing dancers! I really enjoyed the Drama in the Mix showcase here back in March which saw local school pupils performing their self-penned radio plays on the main stage. They were incredibly funny and thought provoking.’ Lucy Knight, Executive Assistant‘Manu Delago was the best thing I saw this year.’ Eileen Tracey, Digital Marketing‘Starting my own business doing Henna for weddings was my art highlight.’ Rufshana Begum, Box Office Supervisor‘Sufjan Stevens at Royal Festival Hall in September, which was sublime, sad and spectacular. My Rich Mix highlight was probably the Sensory Score in July, which even though I had programmed it took me completely by surprise.’ Oliver Carruthers, Head of Programming ‘Fast and Furious 7 because it’s enjoyably nuts. Dumb Hollywood fun. Best superhero movie of the year.’ Suman Pal, Finance Manager‘Seeing Suffragette here when it was filmed so close to Rich Mix, and remembering the lengths women went to to get us all the right to vote. Elsewhere – Opera up Close new version of Carmen. Great singers and a really interesting take on the story.’ Jane Earle, Chief Executive‘Xiu Xiu’s Twin Peaks concert at St John’s church in Hackney.’ Margot Przymierska, Young People’s, Family & Community Producer‘Seeing Swindle twice this year! First time was at the Southport Weekender back in May and the second time was here in November. He’s like a young Prince, great musically, funky band behind him and also gets you jumping up and down! Jazz meets dubstep!’ Gemma Unwin, Events Manager‘Mashrou’ Leila at the Barbican – Hamid Sino’s voice is beautiful, the performance transported me to another world… Fantastic. Hassan Moyo and Flux at Rich Mix created an electric atmosphere for a Monday night! And Garden State by Corinne Silva (Mosaic Rooms) showed how public gardens are used for political means in Israel… who thought a flower bed could be political?’ Natasha Clarke, Arts Assistant‘For once I agree with the critics, who’ve all put Hangmen (formerly at the Royal Court, and now at the Wyndham’s) at the top of their lists this year. Dark, hilarious, and very, very wrong. I’ve never spent such a tense interval! Also, the Hamilton cast recording, which makes me really wish Broadway wasn’t such a schlep!’ Maxine Smiles, Marketing Officer (Arts and Culture)‘The Frantz Fanon exhibition at the ABP gallery because it gave a new, more personal way of looking at his ideas.’ Maisie Linford, Finance Administrator‘Ibeyi at Islington Town Hall in May was my stand-out gig. And Neverwhere Beckett (part of CASA festival) was so inventive and different to anything I’ve seen.’ Anna Woods, Marketing Assistant‘I know this is cheating and will seem terribly big headed but my favourite gig was one which I played with my band Cup. (Yup, just read that back and it does sound big headed but I’m going with it). We played at Wysing Arts Festival in Cambridgeshire in September this year and not only was it a really fun gig to play (our stage was in a makeshift shack in a field), but the festival was just excellent. Loads of people gathered to listen to electronic music and full bands, much of it broadly classed as ‘experimental music’. And all the acts I saw were really exciting. It’s not often you get that at a festival.’  Lucy Jamieson, Head of Marketing (and drummer)‘The sound art exhibition, Sonica, at the CCA in Glasgow was really good. And watching the film The Lobster here.’ Asher Levitas, Box Office‘I saw Lest We Forget at Sadlers Wells by English National Ballet.  It was a powerful and exciting mixed bill of three pieces created in response to World War 1. Seeing Tamara Rojo choreographed by Akram Khan in Dust was an experience which remains imprinted on my mind. I came away feeling grief and joy simultaneously.’ Monique Deletant Bell, Interim Chief Operating Officer