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Changing perceptions: What it takes to produce the Deloitte Ignite festival at the Royal Opera House

Laurie Miller-Zutshi from SeaChange Arts on why festivals are important for the arts scene in Britain.

By Hayley Bartley (Former Content Producer (Learning))

1 September 2015 at 10.50am | Comment on this article

'The thing I enjoy most about producing festivals is engaging with the local community,' says Laurie Miller-Zutshi, Creative Producer at SeaChange Arts. 'This is especially true in Great Yarmouth where our festival really transforms the space and people see the town in a completely different way. It's great to think that the work you're doing has that kind of effect.'

SeaChange Arts is an independent arts development charity dedicated to promoting street arts and circus skills. The organization has its own creation centre in an old military drill house in Great Yarmouth where artists can come from all over the world to create new shows.

'Great Yarmouth is an area of low engagement in the arts, so our work is very much about bringing high quality arts to the local people who live there,' says Laurie.
As Creative Producer, Laurie is responsible for all the events and festivals that SeaChange Arts runs. Her job is highly varied, working both locally in Norfolk and visiting other countries to attend festivals and meet with performers.

'You do find yourself doing quite random things where you think “Wow, is this really my job?”. Some days I might be talking on the phone to artists in France or Belgium about their show and then another day I could be in a different country attending festivals and looking at potential acts to come and perform with us. Sometimes I’m required to talk to local businesses about a festival and potentially seek permissions for artists to perform. With Deloitte Ignite 15, for example, I have been visiting all the local restaurants asking permission for one of our acts to climb on their buildings! So no day is ever the same.'

This year, Laurie is bringing her festival expertise to Covent Garden as Producer of Deloitte Ignite 15. Running throughout the month of September, Deloitte Ignite is the Royal Opera House's annual arts festival, showcasing singers, musicians, dancers, costume and prop makers, and street performers.

‘The Deloitte Ignite festival opens the Royal Opera House up to a whole group of people who haven’t previously engaged with opera or ballet. It helps to transform the place and will hopefully make people look at the ROH in a completely different light.’

The Piazza Arts part of the festival will take place on the 5, 6 and 27 September and all events are free to attend. Highlights from the programme include street art company Transe Express, who will take over Covent Garden Piazza with their three giant opera-singing dolls and 20 soldier drummers, as well as free climber Antoine Le Menestrel, who will scale the walls of the Royal Opera House as Romeo, searching for Juliet.

'Having free events, especially with an outdoor aspect makes, the arts much more accessible and helps to break down barriers that people may experience, such as the cost of a ticket or apprehension about coming into a “traditional” venue. I hope the festival will change people’s perceptions about this building.’

Deloitte Ignite runs 3–27 September 2015 and includes a wide range of free and ticketed events.

By Hayley Bartley (Former Content Producer (Learning))

1 September 2015 at 10.50am

This article has been categorised Off stage and tagged Circus, Deloitte Ignite, festival, producing, SeaChange Arts, Street Arts, Transe Express

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