Open Sessions #8
Open Sessions #8

Rituals – Ways of Working: reflecting on the past 12 months

22 February 2019

It’s been an incredible year at Lighthouse, a real joy to watch our projects develop, participants grow and perfect ideas, our brilliant team flourishing with all that’s thrown at them while meeting new friends to hatch new plans.

Looking back at the year, we explored the renewed interest in ritual and transcendental experience. The projects — both new and existing — examined the ceremonial tendencies of humankind, as a resource to outline how our cultural landscape may be interpreted through different creative disciplines. Lighthouse’s current residency and mentorship schemes such as Reframed and Guiding Lights established lived rituals for our participants, through regular collaborative sessions, targeting a shared responsibility for enhancing and promoting new work. We also contributed to building sustainable skills for future generations of creatives through our pilot project Viral. In turn, the Lighthouse team’s talents and skills have increased the impact of our work, extending our reach and diversifying our audiences.

We continued to embrace the themes of Rituals — Ways of Working through our Alternate Realities exhibition which took place at the end of September. The selected works pushed the possibilities of immersive and interactive technologies, how they enable us to engage with socio-political infrastructures, storytelling and the interface of physical and digital worlds through the voices of artists from all over the globe.

We are already gearing up for next year’s focus: Next Generation.

Going forward, we are planning to use the learning and experience we gained working with Elijah and Arts Council England’s Change Makers programme this year to continue to make a positive impact on cultural leadership. We are working hard to find a way to finance bringing individuals or collectives to contribute to the Lighthouse programme in new ways, providing a platform for emerging talent and diverse voices, and supporting new thinking and working by collaborating with those that are under-represented and often marginalised within the arts.
Thanks to everyone that has contributed to the Lighthouse projects so far, it’s been a kaleidoscope of creative activity and I’m looking forward to the next few years immensely. Onwards and upwards!

Alli Beddoes, CEO and Artistic Director

We asked the team to share their highlights from the past 12 months at Lighthouse.

Big Little Multiverse
Big Little Multiverse was a highlight for me this year. Having a mixture of workshops, screenings and art on display worked beautifully, bringing elements for all ages to engage with. This was part of the Brighton Science Festival that happens every February across the city. This year we focused on the universe, through film screenings we ventured into its vastness and marvelled at its scale, then examining the minute in workshops where we extracted DNA from a kiwi, handcrafted human cells and experimented with slime mould.

It was really enjoyable seeing a younger audience at Lighthouse engaging with a combination of science and art and the interplay between them. We have now begun planning for next year’s science festival exploring the theme of energy, expect wind turbines, electric power and eco building.

Re-Imagined Futures
Re-Imagined Futures was another programme I was really excited to be part of. During May we held ten free events ranging from DJ workshops, talks, performances and live radio broadcasts. It was a chance for us to invite organisations and individuals we’d been working with over the past year to programme an event. It brought new audiences into Lighthouse and showed them what we’re all about. It also felt like a nice celebration of people we’ve worked with and our continued commitment to collaborating, which I feel is essential to progressing and developing as an arts organisation.

We had a open call for proposals to take part in Re-Imagined Futures. The commissions were part of Re-Imagine Europe, a four-year programme with nine international partners, funded by Creative Europe. We were excited to be able to commission Gaia Fugazza and The Surround. This was the first time I’ve been involved with an open call out and I got a lot of joy from seeing someone’s proposal turn into an event, and being part of making that happen.

Kizzie Furini, Assistant Producer

Last Dance films
Dipping my toe back into production for the Last Dance films has been peppered with the usual highs and lows of filmmaking. We set out earlier this year to make a film that reflects on the cultural and socio-economic impact of club closures around the UK. Working with Associate Artistic Director Elijah, and director Luke Carlisle, we developed a documentary and a dance piece, to explore some of these themes, and began filming in April this year.

It was a fun shoot, spending 3 days in a nightclub can’t be bad, if a little disorientating! Our locations, Five Miles and Corsica Studios, are institutions in their own right. Corsica’s location under the arches at Elephant and Castle is instantly recognisable, and their work goes far beyond hosting some of the best techno nights in London. From that start they welcomed us and our project, as a socially minded arts venues, their team was supportive of Last Dance and it’s clear they’re driven by a desire to support creativity in their community.

The crew for the dance piece came together for an epic 13 hour shoot day, with Choreographer/Dancer Odilia Egyiawan braving arctic temperatures and delivering a kinetic, mesmerising performance as our clubber.

The whole project has been possible thanks to some serious generosity and goodwill from the likes of Aimee Cliff and madison moore, Deano Jo (of Five Miles club), Julia Bell (whose beautiful piece Really Techno, published in The White Review, opens and closes the piece), Object Blue and DJ Boring (whose music score the films).

As we enter post production, we’re finally seeing this complicated project become something more than the sum of its parts, and it’s both exciting and terrifying as we approach sharing it with the wider world. We’re hoping to be able to share the films with you in the coming weeks — watch this space!

Sian Habell-Aili, Senior Producer

Guiding Lights 9
I feel really close to the Guiding Lights 9 mentees, as this has been the first time I’ve been involved with the scheme from beginning to end. Our trip to the Galway Film Fleadh was a great bonding experience for us all, as well as being really useful in terms of meetings with industry — one such meeting led to the financing of Loran Dunn’s film! In fact, our mentees seemed to have success after success as GL9 continued, with multiple projects either moving forward or being released. Having got to know the group so well, these successes feel even more meaningful. Some great matches came out of the scheme, and the group seemed to bond very well too. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some collaborations between mentees down the line. As always, it’s sad for a round of the scheme to end, but I’ve met some really lovely people who I know will make plenty more great films.

David Richards

Last Dance Open Sessions
Through Last Dance Open Sessions we established a format which has been carried over into the wider Lighthouse programme. We curated bi-monthly talks with creatives across multiple disciplines, inviting our audience to take an in-depth look at their career trajectories, practice and approach. By selecting speakers who had built their careers independently, or who were still in the early stages (despite some of them already being critically acclaimed) we could bridge a gap between our speakers and audience members. Open Sessions indicated that a creative career is not out of anyone’s grasp. Over the course of seven months, some of our audience members even became speakers and panel leaders themselves. Ultimately, Open Sessions acted as a breeding ground for ideas, a safe space to ask questions and learn more, and often the starting point or stepping stone in the development of a creative practice.

Jamila Prowse, Associate Project Manager

The Wave Epoch
The Wave Epoch has been a highlight for me — I was fascinated by the premise: “Imagine what culture will be like 2000 years in the future”.
The Wave Epoch focused on the human perception of history and our understanding and use of ritual. Ideas that I found really interesting. During an artist talk prior to the performance, Haroon Mirza mentioned that “when historians and archaeologists unearth something that they cannot understand or contextualise they put it down to being part of a ritual”. I think it’s quite funny to think of an archaeologist in 2000 years coming across CERN and thinking ‘yeah, probably a weird 2000AD ritual thing’. It is also fascinating to think that a lot of our history today is attributed to being ritualistic, and what may have been the CERN equivalent 2000 years ago has been misrepresented because of a lack of understanding.

When arriving at Lighthouse on performance day there was one phrase that I kept hearing around the office: “We get to find out what it is!” — The mysticism that surrounds a historical artefact when unearthed by an archaeologist was mirrored in the experience of The Wave Epoch — it was so engaging, you felt like you could learn from it, and that it was telling us something about our past and future.

Ben Richards, Operations and Communications Assistant

The building and connecting with community
This year we have welcomed new voices, provided a platform for people to be heard, and opened up our space to be led by the passions of our community. It’s a great feeling knowing our building has been used and valued by so many.

It all began with the launch of Last Dance Open Sessions — Elijah was investigating club closures and what that meant for young people who needed space to experiment, play, be discovered and make a living. The sessions struck a chord right away and we quickly became a place where young artists could meet like-minded people, discuss their creative needs, struggles and plans for the future and learn from artists who had been along a similar path and were eager to share knowledge and help.

During Re-imagined Futures in May we handed over our space to people we’d met through the Open Sessions — local young talent were invited to showcase their work, under the theme of ritual, ceremony and the future of culture. It was the first time that many of them had run an event, spoken on a panel or exhibited work — we are very proud to have been able to support these first steps into their creative futures. This vibe continues now with Viral.

We love having a building and the opportunities it brings. We want our space to be used and valued, to improve lives and to share art for positive change. We know creative spaces are in short supply and we are always thinking about how we can use the space better and make it more useful to more people. If you have any thoughts it would be great to hear from you. It’s been a pleasure having everyone here, don’t be a stranger, there’s so much more to come.

Emma Wickham, Head of Operations

It has been super interesting working on Viral this year. The young people are incredibly inspiring — a diverse group aged between 16 and 24 who have loads of talent and personality that they bring to the sessions. The group are full of ideas and a resilience to see things through even when life sometimes gets a bit complicated.

Viral is bespoke and we are eager to learn from the young people involved, being flexible and responding to their needs and interests along the way. Many of the members find mainstream education isn’t necessarily for them, or that they are at a point in their lives where they have great ideas but perhaps aren’t sure how to push them forward, or are eager to add more creative disciplines to their expanding portfolio. We have created an informal learning programme, collaborating with experienced artists at The Rose Hill, and working with industry professionals from Brilliant Noise and Brandwatch. The idea is to tap into DIY culture, to experiment, to make mistakes, to try new things, to be open and support each other along the way. Everyone has developed their own project within the program and we hope that by the end, the members feel they have developed skills in myriad ways that will help them be self sufficient as young, emerging artists; creative skills, personal and business skills, skills in branding and marketing and also skills in collaboration and building a network. Our showcase event last week was a fantastic opportunity to share the brilliant art and performance created by the group with Brighton’s creative community!
Bex Fidler, Associate Project Manager

A programme highlight in 2017, and valuable learning experience all round, was Reframed, which looked at immersive and interactive storytelling across VR, augmented reality, mixed reality and games. Kicking off with a publicly accessible series of talks and workshops led by industry guests from across film, gaming, theatre, design, art and technology, the second stage supported seven project teams through an intensive development process over five months to transform a kernel of an idea to pitch-ready proposals. Contributors and speakers included experts from a number of world-class companies, including Punchdrunk, Marshmallow Laser Feast, Unity Technologies, Make Real and Rewind.

Since completing the programme, it’s been wonderful to see the projects going from strength to strength. Pilot Theatre’s Traitor, an interactive thriller that combines VR with live action, has been commissioned through Arts Council England and Digital Catapult’s Creative XR initiative. Ghost Hunt, an immersive storytelling experience that provides coding education through Augmented Reality and live performance has received further R&D funding from the AHRC through their Next Generation of Immersive Experiences programme.
Emily Kyriakides, Executive Director

Last Dance and Viral Open Sessions
The Open Sessions events are always super inspiring — both because of the fantastic speakers, and the audience. Without exception the speakers have been hugely honest and generous with their experience and the audiences have reacted by really engaging with the topics and asking brilliant questions. It’s so important to demystify the career paths of people in the creative industries and these events are a huge step towards that for young people in Brighton.

It’s also hugely important that we hold these regular events that open up the space at Lighthouse, bring it alive with ideas and allow people to make new connections.

Ruth Oliver, Communications and Development Manager

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