In 2011, and working in collaboration with The Botswana Society of the Arts, Botswanan Dance Company Mophato and UK based musicians Korasong Radio, Developing Artists helped facilitate a series of workshops in preparation for a new song/kora/dance/massed choir spectacular, "Goalmouth," celebrating the arrival of the World Cup on African soil for the first time.
The Botswana Society for the Arts: Was registered as a non-profit society in 1996 in response to the need for a coordinated approach to the development of the arts in Botswana.
Korasong Radio: lead by Jeremy Avis and Rebecca Askew combine 3 voices, 2 guitars, djembe, bass and drums and crucially the ancient sounds of the West African kora to create a sound both funky and sublime.
Mophato: Five Botswana dancers steeped in the traditional dances of the Tswana, San and Kalanga peoples but each with skills and training in ballet and contemporary dance.
CAPE VERDE ISLANDS
Since 2007 Developing Artists began forging strong links with a number of arts institutions across the archipelago of Cape Verde. Primary among these is the Raiz di Polon (Roots of the Cotton Tree) dance school founded by Mano Preto which trains children and young adults from a wide mix of social and economic backgrounds in the skills and discipline necessary to perform as professional dancers. They work in both traditional and contemporary styles. Meeting five nights a week for three hours each evening dancers from 6 – 40 years old work together as equals producing vibrant and genuinely collaborative work.
As part of its commitment to running social and educational programmes alongside creative projects Developing Artists introduced a new initiative whereby dance teachers from the Raiz di Polon school worked with young people at residential centres for abused and abandoned children run by The Capeverdean Institute of Children and Adolescents and its director in Mindelo, Jandir Olivera. ICCA was founded in 1982 to provide support and residential care for child victims of abandonment, family breakdown, sexual abuse and drug related problems. This project was facilitated by The Cultural Centre of Mindelo and its director Josina Freitas.
In 2009 as part of Developing Artists Apprenticeships programme Mano Preto and Josina Freitas Fortes took up observerships for a month at Northern Stage Theatre in Vermont, USA.
With a prolific background in choreography, Preto, a co-founder of internationally celebrated dance group Raiz di Polon, enjoyed integrating rehearsal and production techniques from Northern Stage into elements of his own work. "The way that departments are organised to help the director and create the best possible conditions for the actors is so interesting" says Preto.
Fortes, director of the Cultural Center of Mindelo, agreed – "For us it's very important to observe all the different ways to produce professional work. Cape Verde has always been known for its cultural activities, but only now we are starting to create the necessary conditions for reliable professionalism, and this experience at Northern Stage will be incredibly helpful."
In 2010 Developing Artists worked on the CulturArte programme sponsored by The Cape Verdean government. The project has brought together some 65 young people aged between 16 and 20 from each of the inhabited islands that make up the archipelago of Cape Verde.
Giles ran the Drama programme and Mano Preto ran the Dance programme. There were also programmes run in Music, Singing and Art. Each group worked separately for the first week and then gradually began to join forces as a unified show began to emerge. Thus the skills of the islands were combined to create a, literally, all singing – all dancing, piece of theatre which was then performed to a massive crowd of people from the island of Fogo.
Apprentices Mano Preto and Josina Fortes with Northern Stage's Artistic Director Brooke Ciardelli
In September 2010 Developing Artists teamed up with a group of young creatives from the UK to co-produce the charity's first project in the country. This was conducted with the support of our partner institutions on the ground: Storymoja, Sarakasi, S.A.F.E., The British Council and TAPWAK.
Six volunteers from Durham University, together with a professional director from the USA, collaborated with a large group of Kenyan actors and artists to create a hybrid theatre project. A month-long workshopping and devising process, centring on the theme 'The Spirit of the Kenyan Nation' and focusing on key issues including HIV/AIDS, culminated in a performance on the 29th September at Nairobi's Sarakasi Dome. The production then headlined the Storymoja Hay Festival at the start of October. The team also conducted a series of educationalworkshops in and around Nairobi.
The team worked with actors, directors, producers, singers, storytellers, poets and painters. Joshua Buto, one Kenyan actor who took part, will be taking the devised production that came out of the workshops on a national tour before he comes to the UK to perform in Hay Festival in July.
Without funding or a base level of disposable income among the population, there can be very little or no internal support to back creative initiatives in Kenya. Developing Artists hopes to bring a new project to the country in the near future.
Whilst The National Theatre in Pristina is developing apace there is no similar counterpart for the Serb communities within Kosovo. The Serbian youth (16-25's), particularly in enclaves such as Gracanica and Caglavica, have very few positive activities to occupy their time and to develop their creative skills. Developing Artists sought a solution by advising on the development of a small drama group within the Serb enclaves through a series of educational and practical workshops with the aim of improving their understanding of all aspects of theatre production and company management. The project was conducted on the ground in collaboration with the UN Development Programme in 2009 and 2010.
This project, begun by Giles Ramsay in 2004, resulted in participation with a series of cultural festivals highlighting the depth and variety of Mexican artistic talent, encompassing music, dance, film and theatre. In 2005 the festival played at The Riverside Studios and Artsdepot in London and at The Roxy Art House and The Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh where it was awarded a prestigious Fringe First.
2007 saw British director Cal McCrystal working alongside three of Mexico's leading clown actors Adriana Duch, Darina Robles and Adrian Vazquez. Together they created a new show Cállate! which played in Mexico City before transferring to The Assembly Rooms as part of The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The production then toured to Zimbabwe where it was performed at HIFA 2008.
July 2007 also saw two Mexican actors, Emilio Savinni and Arturo Tovar being awarded Developing Artists Scholarships, along with Zimbabwean actor Blessing Hungwe, to take part in a professional production of Tales From Ovid which was presented at Dartmouth College in the USA as part of their Summer Arts Festival.
In 2008 and 2009 a number of Mexican writers presented their work at The Edinburgh Book Festival and some 20 Mexican students performed Shakespeare on the Edinburgh Fringe.
In 2010 the project culminated with the performance of the opera Montezuma at The Edinburgh International Festival.
Through Developing Artists over 100 Mexican artists have had the chance of working on the international stage.
"I appreciate a lot all the support Developing Artists gave to Cállate in order to act in Edinburgh and be part of HIFA 2008. The experiences I had there are a very important part of my professional and personal life."
"So many opportunities opened up for me after my Apprenticeship."