In March, Beyond the Border made the difficult decision to postpone this year’s scheduled festival until July 2021 due to the impact of COVID 19. The organisation immediately initiated a programme of online story sharing and support, with engagement projects continuing in new ways. Now, thanks to crucial additional support from Arts Council Wales’ Resilience Fund, five new projects will be launched over the next six months, laying foundations for a growing programme to nurture and develop storytelling for the longer term.
Artistic Director, Naomi Wilds said, “These new projects will form foundations of work which can expand across timescale or geographical scope in the future. Storytelling is magnificently versatile, and we’ll be exploring ways to keep bringing audiences and artists together, through digital, then rural and outdoor spaces when we can, creating stronger touring networks ready for when main venues open again. We will be working with storytellers to develop new skills and resources and crucially looking for new voices and communities to create new stories with long into the future.”
These projects employ storytellers, creative practitioners and creative experts from a range of art forms . The programme begins with Casglu a series of gathering, listening and collecting spaces in which Beyond the Border will listen to storytellers, creative practitioners, collaborators, freelancers, audiences and experts to identify and explore subjects including accessibility to outdoor storytelling, navigating stereotypes, telling stories in the Welsh language.
These spaces will also consider the use of technology to create immersive, interactive, intimate storytelling experiences across digital platforms whilst considering how these technologies can be used to move forward into live storytelling experiences such as storywalks. The programme will also identify training, development and creative needs and work that can be delivered across a series of explorative creative labs, called Speculative Spaces. It will use the stories of Beyond the Border’s new home, National Trust Dinefwr and the legends, stories and history of Dinefwr to weave myth and personal story together.
Beyond the Border will be working with its partners at National Trust Dinefwr, the Wildlife Trust rangers, freelancers and artists to track the changing story of nature, at Dinefwr and beyond. One project will explore nature’s contribution to well-being and outdoor arts in a socially distanced world, looking towards a future where audiences can gather again and share stories. An integral part of this project will be development of accessible outdoor storytelling experiences and how digital technology could be used to make storywalks accessible for people with physical, visual and hearing disabilities.
Beyond the Border’s first call out is for New Voices, a pilot Mentoring Programme to support new and emerging storytellers in Wales, prioritising bilingual, Welsh language, BAME and disabled artists. Its ambition is to grow artist development strands not only through Beyond the Border festival programme but across all of the charity’s work. Participants will be invited to shape a programme of support, tailored to their own needs, with wider consultation to develop a more extensive, long term programme.
Beyond the Border is committed to developing this work through new partnerships and networks, working with a range of communities surrounding Dinefwr and throughout Wales. This provides BtB with opportunities to explore new ways to tour storytelling, support freelance storytellers and work to create collaborations with other artforms, and work together to create a more robust future for storytelling in Wales.
“We’re enormously grateful to Arts Council Wales for their support of this programme, which offers crucial support to artists whose work has been massively impacted by Covid-19. These projects draw on themes which will keep developing and evolving over the next few festival cycles in response to all the input we receive over this next six months. We’re starting with online Casglu artist chats every Friday for the next few weeks and are keen to hear from any organisations interested in connecting with storytelling as we move ahead.” Said Artistic Director, Naomi Wilds.
Over the coming weeks, Beyond the Border will be announce further details about each of the five projects. Beyond the Border will also be marking the postponed 2020 festival date with a special one-day online event, Reimagine: Beyond the Border Online on 4 July.
Beyond the Border International Storytelling Festival is supported by Arts Council of Wales, The Major Events Unit, Creative Europe and the Federation of European Storytelling.