As the year draws to a close, some of the XTRAX team share their favourite Outdoor Art highlights of 2019…
Spare Parts Festival
Matthew James Belfield | Communications Manager
It is surreal seeing outdoor shows you are familiar with in a place you know like the back of your hand. So a real moment for me was going to Crewe and seeing Without Walls work as part of a new festival – seeing Theatre Témoin, Helen Eastman Productions and Ramshacklicious and the reaction of friends and family to their work really demonstrated the power of outdoor arts.
Circostrada’s #3 Fresh Street Conference in Galway
Anais Biaux | Project Manager
I really enjoyed attending Circostrada’s #3 Fresh Street Conference in Galway earlier this year. Our colleagues at ISACS (Irish Street Arts, Circus & Spectacle Network) in partnership with Circostrada, Artcena and Galway 2020 drew up a brilliant programme exploring the role that Outdoor Arts plays in the formation of a place, of a community and of a people. The team took us on a memorable Field Trip to Inis Oírr on the Aran Islands – a small island off the west coast of Galway, with just about 280 inhabitants – where we were introduced to local outdoor artists and enjoyed a lively discussion around creating outdoor work in a rural environment.
As an active member of the Circostrada Network, XTRAX has hosted and taken part in many Circostrada events over the years. We very much look forward to working with them again in April 2020 where we will be hosting the next Circostrada CS LAB in Manchester, 3-day residential programme exploring the themes of Cultural Leadership, Inclusion, and Advocacy in the Outdoor Arts sector. Click here to find out more.
SIRF & Freedom Festival
Jack Bright | Admin and Marketing Assistant
My moment (or moments) of 2019 would be from supporting the Showcase activity at SIRF and Freedom Festival. It was a great chance to meet interesting and creative people from all over the world and see some fantastic shows!
XTRAX Showcase at the Stockton International Riverside Festival
Elena Cavallero | Project Manager, Digital Development
There is one event that, more than any others this year, reminded me of all the emotions one can experience when watching an outdoor arts show. During the XTRAX Showcase at the Stockton International Riverside Festival, and after an amazing 30 minutes watching a beautifully introspective show by South Korean company Elephants Laugh, I was invited to step into a water tank and become part of the show myself! I still get to meet people at events all over the country who remind me of that moment, when without words and a script, I volunteered to get absolutely drenched and dance in the water in front of an international audience of outdoor arts professionals!
Platform 4: UK
Hannah Hartley | Project Manager
Being new to the XTRAX team and the outdoor arts sector, 2019 offered many memorable experiences as I became acquainted with the diverse and brilliant selection of festivals, artists and producers both in the UK and internationally that XTRAX connects with daily. A particular highlight was contributing to the Platform 4:UK project and coordinating the Outdoors Arts in East Asia event as part of the professional programme at Stockton International Riverside Festival, which involved incredible organisation to bring over 140 delegates from 17 countries together in the unlikely destination of Stockton-on-Tees – forming relationships we hope to build on next year with further activity planned in China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. Also, a big shout out to the incredible Discover artists, with whom it was a pleasure to explore the Out There International Festival of Circus and Street Arts and Arts by the Sea Festival this September. It was hugely inspirational to support 18 artists and producers from diverse artforms and backgrounds to develop their understanding of the outdoor arts context and how this might influence their own practices.
Lastly thank you to the XTRAX team and Without Walls partners who have all been super welcoming and supportive as I’ve got to grips with all things ‘outdoor arts’!
Irene Segura | International Relations and Artist Development
Fira Tàrrega is one of the most established showcase festivals in Europe, attracting audiences in the thousands as well as industry professionals who gather to get to know great outdoor shows.
In its first year as Artistic Director, Anna Giribet (also the first female Artistic director that this festival has had since it was created in 1981) made a bold move in not presenting the traditional large-scale opening show, and instead hosting an open discussion around ‘Public Space’ in the main square of the town. At a time of social divide and demagogic populism, dialogue and reflection are welcome antidotes.