In March of last year we sat in a rehearsal room with a newly assembled team ready to get to work on R&D for Football Freddie. We realised that it was the two year anniversary of the first lockdown ‘and we’re still here, working in the arts!’ We applauded ourselves, then laughed. But reflecting on the past three years I’m so proud of us, all of us. When Covid hit we were not a large organisation making plans for furlough. We were two freelancers, suddenly having to home school our kids with no real idea when we’d get to be theatre makers again.
It’s been a bumpy few years, during 2020 we had an emergency grant, employed some brilliant people and made some digital work for the first time. But then 2021 was dominated by funding dis-appointments. Over a decade of Tory governments squeezing the arts, the escalating feeling of being pitted against other arts organisations, it gets tough. Repeatedly making the case that Fidget Theatre’s small scale work for family audiences is both credible and deserving, is tough.
But arriving in that room last March was a gear change, and at the end of 2022 I am reflecting on a year of growth for our little company. We have developed ideas for three new shows, worked with some amazing new actors and practitioners, and created a board of trustees. Every person who has joined us has brought energy and creative thinking that has fuelled us. New creative perspectives on access, inspiring design conversations, passion for the beautiful game, den building skills, the right to protest, elves on a mission, mince pies and lots and lots of post it notes, have brought renewed direction and momentum to our work.
We are not just two freelancers, in fact I feel more connected to a bigger eco system of creative people than I ever did. This year Fidget will be touring again, starting with Pirate Bonnie: inspired by Leeds Libraries archives, interrupted by lockdown, R&D via zoom, and finally welcoming live audiences of children and families aboard this spring. I can’t wait.