Introducing the ‘LIVEwire x Lockdown’ project

As you all know, our most recent project was a series of eight ‘LIVEwire’ events. It was our biggest and most ambitious series of live events to date. And as with most things that we know and love, it unexpectedly ground to a halt and fell of the edge of the cliff when COVID-19 embarked on its world tour.

The fourth and final Leeds residency event and also the Colchester event took place online. We also hosted our fifth birthday party celebrations online, which saw all six Nymphs & Thugs artists on the same bill for the first time. And off the back of that, we started hosting weekly Insta sessions at the beginning of May, which we’re still doing.

But with physical events nowhere to be seen on the horizon, I had a think about how Nymphs & Thugs could respond to the pandemic in our own way. So, I took an idea for a project which I’d been working on since February, adapted it for COVID-19, submitted an application to Arts Council England crossed my fingers.

Towards the end of September, we received our National Lottery Project Grant funding and all systems were go. And today, finally, we’re announcing the culmination of our ‘LIVEwire x Lockdown’ project. I speak in more detail about the project in December’s column for The State of the Arts here.

The key headlines are that Nymphs & Thugs has signed four new artists: Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, Saili Katebe, Kirsty Taylor and Sean Mahoney. These four artists delivered free poetry workshops to underrepresented communities of their choice. We then commissioned them to create a piece in response, which saw them collaborating with an artist from a different discipline.

Suhaiymah delivered workshops for refugees and asylum seekers. Her poem is accompanied with a time-lapsed illustrated video by artist Alaa Alsaraji. Saili delivered workshops for young black writers and has devised a piece in response with movement practitioner Deepraj Singh.

Kirsty delivered workshops for care experienced young people in Bradford and has teamed up with music producer SOULS. And Sean delivered workshops for boxers and boxing enthusiasts. His poem is accompanied by a soundscape and also photographs illustrated by Sadie St. Hilaire.

All four of the singles were released on Friday 11 December and are available to buy here. They’ll remain exclusively on our Bandcamp site until the new year, after which they’ll be available in all of the major digital stores and streaming platforms.

The online première took place on Thursday 10 December and is available to watch back our Facebook page, YouTube channel and IGTV channel. I interviewed each of the artists before giving each of their commissioned pieces a world exclusive share.

So…bloody exciting times for Nymphs & Thugs. I can’t wait for the commissioned pieces to be out there and also to develop a working relationship with four new artists. See you next week…