Accroche-Coeurs Festival is a yearly outdoor festival that has been programming high quality international and local work for 19 years. Over three days, the festival attracts more than 200,000 spectators, presenting around 50 shows as well as multiple audience development activities.
Following on from the Brexit referendum in the UK in 2016, as well as the geopolitical relationship between Anjou and Britain, the festival directors decided that the 2017 edition would have a clear UK focus. The So British edition not only covered the city of Angers with British symbols such as Union Jacks, teacups and double-decker buses, but it also featured works from some high-quality UK outdoor arts companies. XTRAX worked with Jacques Humbert, Artistic Director of the festival in 2017, to develop the programme since December 2016.
In order to shape up this programme, Jacques Humbert, Artistic Director of the Festival, contacted XTRAX in December 2016. The team introduced him to a variety of outdoor artists from the UK and advised him on the most suitable works for his festival. This collaboration helped shape the programme which featured four UK outdoor arts shows: Trolleys by C-12 Dance Theatre Company, Phone Box by Corey Baker Dance, several walkabouts shows from Natural Theatre Company, and As The World Tipped by Wired Aerial Theatre – the large-scale aerial show was set to be one of the headline performances at Accroche-Coeurs Festival, acting as a flagship for the standard of UK work.
Accroche-Coeurs and XTRAX also co-hosted a professional meeting focused on developing Franco-British relationships in the context of fostering the exchange of knowledge and expertise. This event was devised to give promoters the opportunity to learn more about the UK sector and discover exciting British UK work in development, all wrapped around the programme of one of France’s most influential outdoor arts festivals.
As an introduction to this professional event, XTRAX gave an overview of the UK outdoor arts sector, focusing on its key players (i.e. key festivals, support organisations, companies, creation centres, networks), and sharing relevant information for French and other international promoters.
This was followed by three pitches from some of the UK’s most innovative and creative companies, presenting works which are premiering in 2018 and beyond. These pitching sessions were designed to give a flavour of contemporary UK outdoor work and to create opportunities for international collaborations. Pitching companies included Mimbre (The Exploding Circus), Stopgap Dance Company (The Road) and Worldbeaters & Dundu (Sense of Unity – a British – German collaboration).