Sunday, 20 March 2011

Firebird HQ

Over time, we are going to use this blog to tell you what we're up to and to tell you what our artists are up to.  We'll keep you up to date with performances, exhibitions, links, adventures and ideas that are happening in the Firebird world. 

We're also going to use this space as an opportunity to bring some wider debates into play.  We'll be asking questions about the role of music and art in social cohesion, about the role of arts organisations in general, about art as development and the fundamental right of expression that many of our artists are so passionate about.   We'll be talking to artists that are using their work to promote hope and social change, and to people who have had their lives changed through music, dance, visual art and film.  Please let us know if you'd like to contribute - we'd love to hear from you!  

But for now, we just wanted to show you where we live - Welcome to Firebird HQ...

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Introducing Firebird Promotions - Part Two: The "How"

Why Firebird?  Because it's about beauty and hope coming from places of darkness or difficulty, taking flight and soaring.  It's about regeneration and about the future.  

(And someone else had already done a Phoenix festival.  I actually spent months trying to find an alternative firebird based myth to name it after, until a close friend said "I don't see what's wrong with Firebird". Oh yeah. )

So after lots of thinking and planning, and a huge amount of advice from some amazing people, the plan became something like this...
1. Start finding groups that are doing this kind of work, and doing it well, to a standard that will work at festivals and events
2. Partner with these groups, and get their acts out at events
3. Build a network of people and organisations that work in this sector, and create opportunities for them to learn from each other, share experiences and move forward, both in person and online
4. Put on events that showcase the Firebird artists, and that celebrate this kind of work, starting with small events and working towards a festival.

We're starting small and growing gradually, but I was under no illusion that this was something I could or should attempt to achieve single handedly.  So I got a bit excited when I was in Cambodia having a skype chat with a good friend of mine from the festival world, and discovered that she had found herself immersed in this work as well, using theatre in some amazing work with refugees in Leeds.  To make a long story short, when I got home I asked her if she would think about taking on the challenge with me and luckily for me, after lots of talking and thinking, she decided to go for it, and so Sophia and I became Firebird Promotions.  

So with very humble beginnings (our first official meeting was in a tent at a festival), we are now an established Community Interest Company, with offices in the inspiring Co-Exist world of Hamilton House in Bristol, and on the verge of signing our first partnership agreement with some INCREDIBLE artists from Manchester, and looking to get them on stage this summer.  

It's really happening, and whilst we have days where it's terrifying and still a huge amount to learn, I have absolute faith that we are doing something that needs to be done, and that it will work.  So we'll keep you up to date with our news here, and will be posting videos and photos for your enjoyment on here too.  And if anyone wants to get in touch for whatever reason, we'd love to hear from you - our emails are on our website

And we'll start doing shorter blog posts now, promise!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Introducing Firebird Promotions - Part One: The "Why"

This is the official entry of Firebird Promotions into the blogosphere. Hi there - we're pleased to meet you.

Firebird Promotions is a new Community Interest Company based in Bristol, and it seems to make sense to start at the beginning, and explain why we have embarked upon this adventure.

I'm Jess, one of the Directors of Firebird, and I first had the idea of this project right back in 2005.  Between 2005 and 2009 and it was just a thought in my brain that I was too frightened to share, then in 2009 it was known as The Masterplan, and in 2010 I decided it was time to make it a reality.

My background has been in two distinct worlds; the land of festivals, events and parties, and the land of what can broadly be termed as 'arts for development' projects.  Arts for development refers to any project using the arts in one way or another to bring about positive change, whether for one person or for a whole society, and it is something that has happened throughout the whole of human history.  

The project that first inspired me to get involved in this slightly obscure line of work was called Adugna. Based in Ethiopa, 18 street children were trained to be professional dancers over a period of 5 years.  Many of the Adugna dancers are now internationally renowned in their art, respected as artists, and they have helped to change the view that people have of Addis Ababa's street children.  It still blows me away.

I have been lucky enough to learn about this not just by reading about the amazing work that has gone on in this sector across the world, but also by actually getting to participate in some of these inspirational projects - for this I am immensely grateful.  I have been part of a project that uses mobile phones to give young people a voice through film and another that uses dance to raise the profile of disabled people in Cambodia, and been involved in countless others.  

Throughout this journey I have seen incredible art that has changed my perceptions and my preconceptions and that has moved me in a very real way.  From beautiful dance performed by a group of profoundly deaf individuals to powerful music written by prison inmates and films from refugee camps that have shaken the foundations of my views: This work is as good as anything I've seen in the 'mainstream' but for some reason, it lives in the margins.

And so our mission at Firebird is to bring this work to the centre, for audiences at festivals, events and online to benefit from being able to access these artists and witness their talents.  

I'll talk you through The "How" tomorrow, but I hope that explains The "Why".