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The Albany receives Arts Council National Portfolio funding

Today we are pleased to announce that our funding as part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio will continue from 2015 -2018 at current levels, as is the case for 75% of National Portfolio Organisations. We will also receive £437,175 funding towards refurbishing our main theatre space. 

Congratulations are also in order for Albany resident companies. Entelechy Arts have received a funding uplift this year from £60,000 to £80,000 – one of less than 10% of National Portfolios to receive an uplift.  A five further resident companies will also be part of the National Portfolio: Apples & Snakes, Heart n Soul, Kali Theatre, Poetry London and Spread the Word.

‘We are delighted that, at a time of huge pressure on arts and culture funding, the Albany has been recognised by Arts Council England as part of the National Portfolio.

The Albany is a model for the arts centre of tomorrow: a social enterprise with community at its heart, delivering transformational artistic experiences for all. This award will allow us to continue offering creative spaces and experiences that speak to, and reflect, the lives of the diverse communities of South East London.’

Gavin Barlow, CEO, the Albany

For the full story, click here.

 

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Bringing People Together through Opera

James Redwood (centre, in orange) leading the sharing event

Award-winning composer James Redwood (centre, in orange) leading The Albany Street Opera sharing event, 21 June

After a successful sharing event on Saturday 21 June, The Albany Street Opera is progressing well. The day offered the chance for all of the participants, from Meet Me at the Albany, Uncover Theatre Company and Lewisham A Capella Singing Group, to meet for the first time with composer James Redwood and devise a new opera, to be performed Saturday 19 July, 5pm.

Participants of the project range in age from 6 – 90 and come from a variety of backgrounds, many facing access challenges such as disability or language barriers. The sharing session saw twenty-five people come together to solidify their vision for the opera. Participants spent time getting to know one another, sang some simple rounds and worked in groups to make up song lyrics.They then shared the progress they had made on the opera itself since the project started in May.

The opera is inspired by John Bird’s book ‘The Necessity of Poverty’, which explores how the rich exploit poverty. Dramaturg Hazel Gould has been working with the groups on the development of the story around this theme and its ideas of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. The resulting plot is a dystopian future where the environment is so ruined that the most precious thing in the world is a spring of fresh water, protected fiercely by guards for the benefit of the ‘haves’. The Meet Me at the Albany participants have created the central character, Jean, who is on the run and  has her own theme song, created by the young singers of Lewisham Music Hub.

Clearly, the day was immensely valuable to the development of this new opera, and enabled a diverse group of people to meet, socialise and devise new music, irrespective of musical background, and sometimes with little to no music education. The project is in its first stage of development, with hopes to develop the work further into a full-scale opera production by the autumn of 2015/2016.

The Albany Street Opera has its first public performance Saturday 19 July, 5pm. For more information and to book tickets, click here.

Have a look at some more pictures from the day (by photographer Charlotte E. Groves) below:

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This project is proudly supported by the Merry Trust, Arts Council England and the PRS for Music Foundation.

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Allison Gold, Marketing Assistant, The Albany

 

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Deptford meets opera in The Albany Street Opera

James Redwood - Photo by Robert Day Work is underway on The Albany Street Opera, a music project that is engaging a diverse group of Deptford locals and will culminate in the unveiling of a brand new opera created by the participants with the help of award-winning composers and musicians. Creative Producer Rachel Nelken tells us more about this ambitious project.

I’ve been involved with the Albany for some years. I was lucky enough to spend some time on the Board of Trustees from 2010-2012, and have been working in the community as an arts and music producer for many years in this part of South-East and Outer London. I’d always been intrigued by the unusual model of the Albany with its resident community and arts organisations – all living and working alongside each other but not necessarily with each other – or even ever meeting. So, about a year ago I had a crazy idea of seeing if we could bring some of the different groups together to make some new music and theatre. I went to talk to Gavin Barlow, the Albany’s CEO, about the idea, and the Albany community opera project was born!

Further discussion with Gavin and Raidene Carter, Head of Creative Programmes, led to us identifying key organisations who could take part in the project. We wanted a real range of ages and backgrounds and chose organisations Entelechy Arts, Heart n Soul, Lewisham Music Education Hub, Deptford Green School, Uncover Theatre Company, the Central Afghanistan and Asian Association and local primary schools.

Our next job was to find the right musical director for the project. It had to be someone who was not only a great composer but who had the energy and enthusiasm for working with a real range of people, and getting them to collaborate together to create their own music and story – especially as we knew some participants would be completely new to the experience. After much searching and some great recommendations we chose award-winning composer James Redwood, who was awarded the prestigious RPS British Composer Award for his community and education work in 2013. When it came to a ‘dramaturg’ – to work with the groups to create the story – we then chose Hazel Gould following many recommendations – whose opera ‘We are Shadows’ had won that same award the year before.

Singing and performance will be a big part of this project and we have two fantastic vocal leaders as part of the creative team – Abimaro Gunnell who already works regularly with the Albany, and Freya Wynn-Jones who has an extensive background in this work and is a theatre Director herself.

The project came to the attention of anti-poverty campaigner and Big Issue Founder John Bird. His book ‘The Necessity of Poverty’ written in 2012, with its themes of collective transformation and ‘people power’ will help to inspire the creative team and they devise some story lines with the participants.

This first year is the ‘research and development’ phase of a longer-term project, and we hope to work towards a fully staged opera production featuring local performers alongside professionals in the next couple of years. Participants for this stage in the project will range in age from 5 to 90 and will be given the chance to contribute musical or narrative ideas through a series of workshops taking place in and around the Albany throughout June and July 2014.

Key events include a ‘Sharing session’ on 21 June for all participants to meet, share their work and learn a song together, and a ‘work-in-progress’ public performance of all the work created by participants will take place on Saturday 19 July at 5pm. Come and join us and see what we’ve been up to – we’d love to see you there and you too will play a part in this exciting project!

We are really grateful that this project has been supported by the Merry Trust, Arts Council England and the PRS for Music Foundation.

Rachel Nelken, Creative Producer, The Albany Street Opera project

For more information about The Albany Street Opera and to book tickets to the performance on 19 July, click here.

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Welcome to our Blog

The Albany is a different kind of arts organisation. Like many arts venues, we have a cracking programme of live events to sink your teeth into: from the best spoken word artists appearing at regular nights, a diverse theatre programme of work from some of Britain’s best theatre companies, regular events for families and kids, music, comedy and club nights – the building is never quiet for very long!

But that’s only a small part of what we do. We are truly, and quite radically, driven by the idea of being a community arts centre, and that means so many of the activities that go on within the walls of the Albany, at our sister venues Canada Water Culture Space and Deptford Lounge, and indeed out and about in Deptford and further afield, are rather more ‘below the radar’. But we think they are an extremely important part of who we are and what we do, and we think it’s vital that they make up a part of the picture of what the Albany is all about.

Many won’t know, for example, about the rich array of resident companies that we have within the Albany building- like performance poetry maestros Apples and Snakes, Heart ‘n’ Soul, an arts organisation with learning disability culture at its heart, and the Independent Theatre Council. Or that we have a (semi) regular market stall in Deptford Market, the incredibly bustling, diverse market that pops up on our doorstep every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (where shoes are ‘three pound each; two for a fiver’). Or that we have chickens in residence in our beautiful garden (OK, we’re pretty obsessive about telling people about those already…).

The blog will play a part in building this richer picture of what we do. We’ll peek behind the scenes, and chat to actors, artists and other company members about what they’re working on. We’ll share videos and photographs of what we’re getting up to. Most importantly we’ll give a voice to the people that engage with our work – like the participant in Meet me at the Albanyour day club for over 60s, who wrote a wonderful poem about her experiences here, or our Uncover Youth Theatre’s hilarious video spoofs of cookery shows.

We also plan to use the blog to share some of the expertise and experiences of those working in the Albany building, and to comment on wider issues relevant to the arts and to the local community.

Most importantly, though, we want our blog to be a forum for discussion, to help us learn more about our audiences and communities. Please do leave your comments and questions, and let us know what the Albany means to you.

And remember you can tweet us or connect with us on Facebook.

Gavin Barlow, CEO, The Albany

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