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Archive - 07 2011

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08 July 2011


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Artichoke Hearts Newsletter: Summer 2011

Welcome to the second Artichoke Hearts newsletter of 2011.  When we launched the Hearts scheme, people told us they'd welcome news from 'behind the scenes': the inside track on what we do!  Do, please, feel free to ask if you have any burning questions, as well as letting me know what you think!

DINING WITH ALICE - Norfolk & Norwich Festival, May 2011

We were really pleased with how many Artichoke Hearts (and other followers) made the journey to Norfolk to see Dining with Alice in May, and I hope the event lived up to your expectations.   Alice was in some ways very different to the events usually produced by Artichoke, in that it was designed for a small-ish audience rather than huge numbers, and took place in a private garden rather than a public place.  But in other ways it was at the heart of what we try to do: hugely (some would say ridiculously) ambitious in scale and execution, by turns mad and magical, and living in the memory of the audience long after they’d returned to normal life. 

I do hope we achieved something special – certainly the feedback we received from press and public was, by and large, extremely positive.  We were extraordinarily lucky to have found such a beautiful location (and such willing and uncomplaining hosts) at Elsing Hall, and I’m sure everyone who visited shared our sense at having stumbled into a magical world.  But we were also very fortunate to have had so many collaborators who made the show possible: the show’s creator, Hilary Westlake, and the rest of her production team; the cast, musicians and crew; and of course Bompas & Parr, whose eccentric and delightful meal took us all straight to Wonderland.

Thank yous

Any Artichoke event is only possible thanks to the generosity of many donors, sponsors and funders who made the production a reality.  Alice was the last of our events to be sponsored by Sky Arts, who have partnered Artichoke for the last two years.  Their support has enabled us to mount some great projects, including Antony Gormley’s One & Other, and the three salons we produced last year in London, Liverpool and Cornwall.  The film they made about Dining with Alice can still be seen on the Sky Arts channels, or you can see a short version of it here.

Community involvement

Our shows usually have opportunities for volunteers and trainees to work alongside us.  These activities really help give people a unique perspective on our events from the inside.   Ever since The Sultan’s Elephant, when 50 volunteers were recruited to steward the giant elephant and little girl giant through the streets of London, we’ve been able to develop opportunities for people to work on these events.  Dining with Alice was no exception, and we were delighted to find a group of wonderful participants who became part of the show itself. These people – who came from all walks of life and ranged in age from 16 to 81 - played the waiters who guided members of the audience throughout the evening, committing to 8 shows, 1 preview and many hours of rehearsal in advance.   They appear to have enjoyed the experience by and large, with every single one of them rating the experience either excellent or very good.  We’re grateful to them all…

Gallery and press coverage

If you didn’t see the show (or even if you did), please do have a look at the photo gallery, press reviews etc on the Dining with Alice website.  We were really pleased to get 4* reviews in both The Guardian and The Times, and excellent reviews in The Observer and the Eastern Daily Press too.  There are also some clips from coverage on Radio 3’s Night Waves and Radio 4’s Front Row


LUMIERE TAKES SHAPE - Durham, 17-20 November 2011

We’ve been hard at work on the second Lumiere festival which will take place in Durham in November.  Helen Marriage has put together a fabulous wish-list of projects, and we’re in the process of finalising which of them will make it through to the final programme, whilst simultaneously trying to reach our fundraising target.   We'll be announcing the final programme in October, though I hope we'll be able to bring our Hearts a preview before then!  Artworks range from huge projections to tiny installations, and it looks likely that we’ll have around 30 or 35 different projects in all, transforming this most beautiful city into a winter wonderland. For the Tweeters amongst you, please join in the conversations on Lumiere via #lumieredurham.

Artichoke Hearts installation

We’ve committed to putting all the funds raised this year through the Artichoke Hearts scheme into one of the installations, so you will be the proud sponsors of one of the artworks…  Do make a date to come to Durham to see the fruits of your support!

European Commission

We have been lucky enough to secure funding from the European Commission’s Cultural Fund this year.  The funding will go towards a project in which three artists, Simeon Nelson from the UK, Dominik Lejman from Poland, and Leonardo Meigas from Estonia, each create a work for three light festivals in Durham, Torun (Poland) and Tallinn (Estonia). All three  share certain common attributes: all are beautiful, historic cities, and all are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Durham Hotel offers

We’ve been able to secure fantastic hotel deals at two four-star hotels, the Royal County Marriott and the Radisson Blu.  Both are situated in the heart of the city and either would make a fantastic base for exploring Lumiere.  We’re offering these rates to Artichoke Hearts in advance of anyone else, so if you’re contemplating a visit to Durham for Lumiere this autumn, do book now.  A double room at the Marriott is £xx - book by phoning the hotel on 0191 386 6821 and quoting the reference 'Artichoke Hearts'. At the Radisson the rate is £xx.  Book by calling xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

We'll have some deals at more reasonably priced hotels available soon.



You may be interested to know that Artichoke’s funding from Arts Council England is now secure for the next three years.  We, in common with almost every arts organisation in England, went through a rigorous and competitive process, and we’re most relieved to have had our core funding confirmed, despite the fact that our offer amounts to a 13% cut in real terms.   But of course we still have a huge fundraising target on every event - our funding doesn't contribute to the costs of producing the events. 

You may also be interested to hear about our next project: the London 2012 Festival has invited us to create a major new living artwork with artist Deborah Warner that will take place simultaneously at eleven sites around the UK. This coastal installation is a poignant exploration of love poetry in the English language and a celebration of the extraordinary variety and beauty of the British coastline. The project will be produced by Artichoke next summer and we're very much looking forward to being part of the Olympic celebrations.


That’s about all I have to report right now.   Do keep an eye on our website (where, incidentally, we’ve just posted a lovely 10 minute film of our very first project, The Sultan’s Elephant) and your inbox for new developments, and do join our facebook group or follow us on twitter @artichoketrust should you feel so inclined

Our grateful thanks for your support.  This week we were pleased to sign up our 60th Artichoke Heart – and we’re hoping to make it to 100 by Christmas!  So if you know anyone who likes our work and isn’t yet a member, please do suggest that they join.  

Best wishes


Nicky Webb


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