ARC announces five artists to Make New Work in collaboration with the local community 

A collage of five artists and companies selected for the Make New Work programme

Following an open call out to artists for our Make New Work programme in autumn 2023, five exciting new pieces of work responding to what’s on the mind of our local communities in Stockton will appear on ARC’s stage this spring and summer. Tommy The Queer Historian, I.Nahkla, Joe-Kent Walters, Saya Naruse and Feat Theatre will create work in forms ranging from new theatre and experimental sound based performance, to comedy and puppetry.

ARC received 120 applications in response to the call out and a panel made up of community members and ARC staff made five awards, two worth £10,000 and another three worth £2,000. All of the chosen artists will also receive rehearsal space, marketing, technical, producing and community engagement support from ARC as part of the package.

Over the next three years, ARC is seeking to achieve a shift in our programme to a more community-led/influenced way of working, and the Make New Work opportunities represent the beginning of this programme.

Tommy The Queer Historian will be creating a piece of new work responding to the theme of Money. Tommy is a multi-award winning, queer, working class, disabled writer and artist that makes work that sits somewhere in the realm of theatre. The Queen of the North, being performed at ARC in July 2024, is a project that looks at the oral histories of Stockton’s market and the intersection between money and class.

I. Nakhla is an artist working on the fringes of music, computational arts, and sculpture. Nakhla works electronic compositions, field recordings and voices into sonic worlds, working with sound and music to magnify the multiple voice as a site of knowledge, protest and play. Their project WASTE, responding to the theme of Climate, will result in an experimental gig encompassing music, words, field recording and catchy melodies.

Joe Kent-Walters is an award-winning comedian and artist from Huddersfield who makes live comedy work described by The Scotsman as having ‘shades of Vic Reeves’. Joe’s piece at ARC will explore the decline of the Working Men’s Club and the Northern Variety circuit.

Saya Naruse is a puppet-maker, puppeteer and filmmaker based in the North East. Saya will be creating a non-verbal puppetry piece at ARC with the local community on the themes of overwhelm, being stuck and a yearning for escape.

Feat Theatre (co-founded by Josie Lena Davies and Stella Marie Sophie) have collaborated on their shows Say it Loud! and The Welcome Revolution developed in 2018 before performing at Edinburgh Fringe and touring the UK to wide acclaim. Their show will be an intergenerational piece responding to the lack of cross-generational conversations regarding gender and sexuality. The project will culminate in a live performance with projections and video in collaboration with filmmaker Oliver Cooper.

Chloe Lawrence, Programmes Manager at ARC said: ‘We have been delighted to be able to offer so many opportunities through our Make New Work programme this year. All the artists who will be supported through this scheme have been selected by members of our communities. We can’t wait to get to know these artists and see the amazing work our brilliant communities have selected!’

These artists are making new and exciting work that will be going live from April 2024 onwards, with tickets to see selected performances priced on a Pay What You Decide basis. Watch this space for more information coming soon!

And in the meantime, the call out is open for the second round of opportunities in the Make New Work programme, for ideas that can be delivered before the end of November 2024. Find out more here (closing date Tues 13 Feb 2024).