XTRAX / SIRF 2021 Outdoor Arts Showcase

A unique programme of online professional events for the international outdoor arts sector.

You can now watch our showcase sessions back! Scroll down to see panel discussions and artists pitching sessions from the programme.

If you attended the showcase, please take a moment to complete our feedback survey – it only takes a few minutes and helps us to make the case for future events.

Building on the success of last year’s online showcase, XTRAX joined with Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF) in July 2021 to deliver a unique programme of online professional events for the international Outdoor Arts sector.

Whilst SIRF, due to take place in Stockton from July 29 to August 1, was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19, we were happy to be able to proceed with our online showcase events 28-29 July.

The 2021 XTRAX/SIRF Outdoor Arts Showcase was an opportunity for delegates to network with UK and international colleagues, discover fantastic outdoor artists and contribute to discussions about the future of the sector.

Our showcasing and sector networking events are a gateway into the UK sector, offering artists and promoters an opportunity to develop their networks and understanding of Outdoor Arts.

Over the course of 2 days, we hosted 22 international speakers and presented work from 20 outdoor artists from the UK, Portugal and Germany. More than 130 delegates joined us for the showcase, with more than 500 connections made on our virtual platform and over 1,000 private messages exchanged.

Our programme included:

  • Panel discussions on sustainability, keeping our programmes international and a chance to meet festival directors and programmers, with speakers from around the world
  • Artists pitching sessions from 20 artists from the UK, Portugal and Germany
  • Networking sessions including a chance to meet the pitching artists and connect with other delegates

See the professional programme here


Online Programme Sessions

XTRAX Shorts – Part 1

Watch our first artists pitching session at the XTRAX/SIRF 2021 Outdoor Arts Showcase below, featuring presentations from artists from the UK and Portugal.

Artists pitching shows in this session:
Vanessa Grasse (UK) – Woven Land
Avant Garde (UK) – Scrum – Illegal Dance
Francesca Baglione / Miss High Leg Kick (UK) – Bird Rave
Whispered Tales (UK) – Distant Drums
Crying Out Loud (UK) – Blame Game
Rinkoo Barpaga (UK) – Chocolat
Air Giants (UK) – Unfurl
Nikki Charlesworth (UK) – What Happened to You?
Rui Paixão & Cristovão Neto (PT) – Holy Clowns
Coração nas Mãos (PT) – Rizoma


Sustainable touring – Who pays for it? (Panel discussion)

The climate emergency and the pandemic have highlighted a need to accelerate change in the Outdoor Arts sector and to understand our carbon footprint and develop environmentally sustainable practices. While a lot of thought has gone into examining and questioning existing models, it is crucial to understand the financial implications that come with these key commitments.

Who pays for what when it comes to making touring more sustainable? Where do the financial responsibilities sit when looking at becoming greener? What choices do we have? And what are the implications?

This panel discussion brought together presenters and artists to discuss these questions and share examples, practices and potential ways forward.


Chair: Feimatta Conteh, Environmental Sustainability Manager at Manchester International Festival (MIF) – Manchester, UK
Reuben Kench, Director of the Environment, Culture, Leisure & Events – Stockton Borough Council, UK
Markus Wörl, organiser and promoter of international festivals across Europe and expert on sustainability in culture – Munich, Germany
P Burton-Morgan & William Reynolds, Co-Artistic Directors of Metta Theatre


Meet the festivals (Panel discussion)

This session was an opportunity for artists, producers and other industry professionals to catch several festival programmers in one (virtual) room and hear from representatives of some of the leading outdoor arts festivals in the UK and further afield about their events and programmes.

Andrew Loretto, Hat Fair, UK
Bill Gee, International Festival Milton Keynes, UK
Bruno Costa, Bussola, Portugal
Eddy Zee, Tai Kwun, Hong Kong
Gemma Thomas, Appetite, UK
Gert Nulens, Theater op de Markt, Belgium
Jan Victoor, City of Wings, Belgium
Jeremy Shine, Manchester International Arts/Stockton International Riverside Festival
Joe Mackintosh, Out There Festival, UK
Kate Wood, Activate/Inside Out Dorset, UK
Sarah Bird, Wild Rumpus, UK

The session was facilitated by Anais Biaux, Creative Development & Partnerships Manager at XTRAX (UK).


XTRAX Shorts – Part 2

Watch our first artists pitching session at the XTRAX/SIRF 2021 Outdoor Arts Showcase below, featuring presentations from artists from the UK and Germany.

Artists pitching in this session:
The Gramophones Theatre Company (UK) – Tarzanna
National Dance Company Wales & Fay Tan (UK) – Why Are People Clapping? / Moving is everywhere, forever 
Bash Street Theatre (UK) – The Cameraman
Company Oliveira & Bachtler (UK) – OTUS
Etta Ermini Dance Theatre (UK) – Oqda
Autin Dance Theatre (UK) – Out of the Deep Blue
Eric MacLennan (UK) – The Open Air Drawing Room
Movema (UK) – Taking Flight
Theater Fragile (DE) – Are You Ready?
Theater Titanick (DE) – TRIP OVER


Keeping our programmes international – why and how? (Panel discussion)

In 2021, a debilitated post-pandemic arts scene, as well as limitations imposed by Brexit Britain, have had a considerable impact on UK festival programmes, which are, inevitably, not able to present the same number of international artists.

With the challenges of presenting international programmes becoming apparent, now is a time to reflect on the reasons for continuing to do so, as well as to look at strategies for the near future. This panel discussion brought together experienced speakers to discuss the value that internationalisation brings to the outdoor arts sector, as well as to find tools for navigating the current challenges.

Kate Wood, Executive and Artistic Director, Activate – Dorset, UK
Dom Kippin, Outdoor Arts producer, Activate – Dorset, UK
Marie Fol, President of On the Move – France
Vicki Amedume, Artistic Director of Upswing – London, UK



XTRAX is recognised as one of the UK’s leading specialists in international outdoor arts development. With a multi-lingual team and a vast network of industry contacts across the UK and internationally (including festival directors, event promoters, professional institutes and artists), XTRAX has vast experience in the strategic development and distribution of outdoor arts internationally.

Over the past 20 years, we have delivered over 35 international showcase events, in partnership with UK and international outdoor festivals, as well as extensive experience of consultancy, festival and event management, programming, producer support to artists, international tour management and strategic support to arts organisations.

XTRAX is also the manager of Without Walls; a network of 35 festivals dedicated to raising the profile of the UK outdoors sector.

Find out more about XTRAX here: www.xtrax.org.uk


About SIRF

SIRF is a free annual Outdoor Arts and street theatre festival in Stockton-on-Tees and one of the world’s oldest and best international outdoor arts festivals.

Taking place over four days, the event attracts thousands of spectators and showcases the best in street theatre, dance, circus and music acts in a packed programme of shows for all the family.

See the festival’s full statement about 2021’s cancellation here: www.sirf.co.uk


The XTRAX / SIRF 2021 Showcase is supported by Platform 4:UK, XTRAX’s Arts Council of England funded project for International collaboration in outdoor arts.

Image: Black Victorians by Jeanefer Jean Charles at City Encounters in Wiltshire 2021 (c) Ash Mills

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To find out more about the showcase, please contact: Irene Segura at info@xtrax.org.uk