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We’re piloting a new Community Associates Programme with Cafe Theatre Company

We’ve created a Community Associates Programme to learn how we can support artists or companies who work with:

• Communities with limited access to arts opportunities.
• Communities whose stories and voices have low visibility.

We will first partner with Cafe Theatre, a local company that creates work involving participants over the age of 60 at our Barnfield Theatre.

Our aim for the Community Associates Programme is to provide comprehensive support to community-based artists, companies and /or groups, enabling them to continue operating and developing creative work with community groups during a period in which national, political and personal pressures may prevent them from doing so.

Cafe Theatre workshop. A white-walled dressing room, with sheets of green and yellow paper attached to the rear wall. (Left to right) A man wearing a blue T-shirt plays guitar; A man wearing a denim shirt and light blu trousers raises their arms outstretched in the air; two women curl their arms in triumph.
Photo by Ralph Whitehead

We are so delighted to be supported by Northcott Theatre as their first Community Associate. Like so many small community organisations we have strived to keep going during the pandemic and without the support of the Northcott and the dedicated community we have created, we wouldn’t be here now. Cafe Theatre provides an essential creative outlet for older people to tell their stories and reach out to isolated older people across the city to access fun performances in a social environment. As this year’s inaugural Community Associates, we hope to broaden our reach, taking performances to community venues across the city and work on our structure and governance to make sure we remain resilient for the future.

Estelle Buckridge, founder and facilitator of Cafe Theatre

Cafe Theatre workshop. Estelle Buckridge, wearing a purple top, points their left arm off camera as they direct a Cafe Theatre participant, wearing an orange dress, whose eye line follows Estelle's arm. They are both in white-walled dressing room.
Photo by Ralph Whitehead

The programme will eventually offer a year-long package of support, including access to performance space and technical assistance, marketing guidance, as well as regular mentoring opportunities from our Community Engagement Producer. By providing this support, we aim to help the Community Associate Company expand their reach to audiences and participants, enhance their production and creative values, and ensure sustainability for their future activities.

Café Theatre have a long track record of making funny, truthful, hearty and powerful work with, for and by people over the age of 60. We are delighted to be supporting them to grow their creative ambitions through this pilot scheme, and look forward to seeing the work the group create, under the leadership of community artist and facilitator Estelle Buckridge.

Nicole Redfern, Community Engagement Producer at Exeter Northcott Theatre

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