Plugged In Phase 1 Comes to a Sparkly End…

Last month the first phase of our strategic touring project, Plugged In, came to an end. While we wait to hear about funding for the next phase we’ve been looking back at everything the project achieved over the year and a half (ish) that we were working. We’ve put together a sparkly document celebrating all our successes, which you can see on the Plugged In website, but here are some of our highlights

Some key facts and figures:

  • worked with 82 community programmers  and 187 youth programmers
  • attracted 3563 audience members
  • programmed 55 events  covering music, dance, puppetry, spoken word and theatre
  • spent 6 days driving around Pennine Lancashire with a group ofinternational dancers
  • spent 76 hours running free workshops in libraries, markets and cafes
  • employed over 100 artists
  • made our venues more accessible to new audiences – by having friendly staff and welcoming volunteers  and encouraging people in, and talking to people
  • built a more diverse audience for all of our venues –  by putting stuff on they want to see, and working with the groups without making assumptions
  • worked with other arts organisations in the North West to  strengthen the links  between projects and the awareness of the work they are doing

Programming Great Art

We, along with our Community Promoters have programmed some great work over the past 3 and a bit seasons. Puppetry from Horse + Bamboo, physical theatre from Theatre AdInfinitum, magic from Morgan & West and drama from Peter Macqueen, there’s been something for everyone in our programme, proving that theatre isn’t an elite club.

“96% of our audiences rated the show they had seen as either excellent or very good in our audience feedback form”


Young Plugged In Promoter Josh, with his prized possesion, a tour poster from LIGHT which he helped to promote at King Georges Hall in February 2015

Back of the Bus – June 2015

It’s not even a year since we brough ‘Back of the Bus’ to Pennine Lancashire but in some ways, it feels like a life time ago! When we got together as team in the office, we all agreed this was one of our highlights, not only because it was a great show, but because it was a great challenge, one that Culturapedia had never taken on before!


‘Been a little low recently, lifted my mood’

‘We didn’t know what to expect and were not disappointed! Loved it! I will never get on or off a bus without thinking of this performance!’

‘Performances like this are a little holiday in everyday life

‘I think you have given us something to treasure and inspire us’

Just a handful of comments made on our feedback form from audiences,

Back of the Bus, June 2015

Creating New Audiences and Bringing Back Old Ones…

We never ruled out a new idea for bringing back audiences to our venues and attracting new ones, and that’s led to us doing some pretty interesting marketing stunts and hosting some great events in unusual places! Whether that was Fireman Dave the juggler in Darwen town centre, free craft workshops in libraries or jazz markets in bands, one of our biggest achievements is having created an atmosphere that something exciting was happening in Pennine Lancashire. Our audiences have continued to grow, not only in numbers but in diversity too!

44% of our audiences said they had not been to the theatre in the past 12 months


‘It’s great to have something finally happening in Darwen’

A passerby, who after enjoying seeing circus skills in the town centre bought a ticket to  ‘Circus Geeks’ at Darwen Library Theatre, March 2015

Working with our Community Promoters

We couldn’t have made any of the Plugged In work work with out our dedicated volunteer Community Promoters. We worked with 180 year 5 pupils, youth groups, horticulturists, hospices and people passionate about the arts to put together groups of arts ambassadors. Choosing the shows which came to their venues and making sure every body found out about it. We proved that handing over the programming keys to the community works!

Community Promoters etting together to discuss issues they face

“We have a vision to widen our audience base to encompass more people who ‘think theatre is not for ordinary folk’ and to people who find it hard to get to performances for lack of a companion.  We want to make Darwen Library Theatre accessible to a community of all ages and provide varied experiences. The Arts have so much to give in enhancing our lives as individuals and as a community. We want this to happen through Darwen Library Theatre and Plugged-in.”

Quote from Dorothy Shepherd, one of the lead members of the Darwen Library Theatre Community Promoters Group.

Working with our Venues

Just like our community promoters, our project couldn’t have happened without the co operation of our venues and the wonderful work the staff have done with us! They’ve let us change opening times, decorate foyers, take audiences back stage, and completely rearrange their auditoriums! Proving that these venues, can be just as versatille as the most modern purpose built arts centres in the bigger cities.

Audiences enjoying extra activities before and after The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark

“Plugged In is a fantastic programme which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with at the ACE Centre. Seeing the diverse crowds it’s brought in, brilliant theatre/shows and overall positivity from the Plugged In team has been excellent to see and much needed for a town like Nelson”

Quote from Christopher Storey, Head Technician at The ACE Centre

A message from Stephie…

I can’t believe we’ve submitted our final report to the Arts Council for the first phase of Plugged In! In some ways it feels like I’ve been working on this project forever, and in others it doesn’t seem like 2 minutes since I was terrified of the idea of just picking one show to programme! I’ve got LITERALLY EVERYTHING crossed in the hope that we get the funding for Phase 2, not just because, I’m personally not ready to finish the project, but because all our audience feedback and results so far show that what we are doing is working, and this is only just the beginning!

If you want to read more about the work Plugged In has done, see more photos and find out why we started the project, then head over to the Plugged In website.