Outside the box: open-air performance as a pandemic response

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Drama


COVID-19 has introduced enduring challenges to arts and culture organisations, demanding innovation in response to public health guidelines. Yet there has been little discussion of the range of practices and sites being used for performance beyond theatre buildings, and the practicability of socially-distanced, live, in-person assembly for outdoor arts, especially in public spaces. This inter-disciplinary project between drama and management studies comprises two strands. The project will work with civic partners to identify how public spaces may be used for performance, harnessing the revivified community engagement with green spaces beyond the home, brought about by the lockdown and aligned with the national aspiration for transformation, to Build Back Better from the pandemic. While open-air performance has been a first stage in cultural re-opening, merely replicating indoor models outside does not resolve key safety and management issues. Hence, the first strand aims to document the nature and extent of innovative outdoor practices across the UK, and understand the management challenges from the perspective of two sets of principal stakeholders: artists and local government. Drawing on models of site-specific, dispersed, threshold, and ecological performances, alongside practice-as-research with artists who have long-term experience and expertise in these genres, the second strand entails a season of commissioned practice-as-research work in 2021. The festival of work will make these innovative models more visible and contribute to the revival of live performance cultures UK-wide, providing exemplars of sustainable cultural practices and assisting local government to facilitate culture for quality of life in a physically-distanced world.


10 25 50
Title At the end of the day 
Description Performers: Dan Cray, Roz Harding, Ruth Molins, Hugh Nankivell Sarah Owen, Emma Welton, Tony Whitehead A small group of artists and musicians listen and make sounds at Exwick Mill Fields. We will attempt to become part of the flow of sound from daylight to dusk, blending with what we hear, and adding to it by making our own sounds, responding to what we hear and to each other. You don't need to be a musician to take part, and we will have a few simple sound-making things to borrow - although you can also bring your own things. We will have a simple set of instructions for you to follow - our "score" for the performance. And you can of course just come and listen if you'd like, and be part of the performance in that way. All ages welcome. Venue: around FLOW Orchard, Exwick Mill Field, (Access: north along path from Station Road, west of Exwick Flood Relief Channel). 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact Our evaluation found that for many who attending this piece there was a joy of the unexpected. Many audience members said that they did not know the area of Exwick Mill Field, but would return and think about what they had experienced at later times. Extending from this work, internal University of Exeter seed funding (2022) will enable A Quiet Night In to collaboration with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra's outreach arm, the Exeter Family Orchestra, on workshopping environmental aesthetics in orchestral music. Response from interview with a teenager four weeks after the event 'I loved this event. It was probably my favourite out of all the outdoor theatre events I attended'. She explained that she loved music and brought a keyboard with her to the event. ' It made me appreciate having to listen. Made me think about music differently, normally I play, this time I had to listen. A lovely experience. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to join in'. What was also interesting when I interviewed this young person was the obvious joy of the event which remained some time after. She explained that she did not always remember events well without prompting, but she did this one. Adult Respondent 'What is interesting with listening and responding, is that we so rarely do it. I loved the participation, making more music together. Different sounds. I am usually a storyteller so I enjoy ways of getting people together. It was a lovely environmental experience'. Adult Respondent 'Tonight, I experienced a different kind of Exeter. It was a place (Mill Fields) but it became different because of what we were doing in it. I felt very present. In the moment tonight'. 
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/at-the-end-of-the-day-registration-163178103099#
Title EXHIBITION Opening up: Threads and Beelines 
Description This exhibition features artefacts and images from Louise Ann Wilson's 'Tell it the Bees' and Lizzie Philps's 'GPS Embroidery: Acts of (In) visible Repair', showcasing elements of these performance works in key sites across Exeter. 'Tell it the Bees' traced honeybee/ life-event/Covid 19 interconnections across the city. 'Acts of (In) visible Repair used GPS technology to embroider environmental repair into landscapes affected by flooding. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact 43 respondents to the exhibition reported joy and pleasure at taking a moment away from the busy streets to enter the space and reflect on the events of the pandemic and how it made them encounter their local environments differently. 
URL https://www.maketank.org.uk/event-details/exhibition-opening-up-threads-and-beelines-2021-12-06-11-0...
Title Ears to the Ground by Onestep Theatre 
Description All places are full of stories, echoes of the past, becomings of the present and whispers of futures yet to be made. But who makes these stories and how can we learn to listen? Ears to the Ground will work with a group of young people to explore how stories entangle local and global experiences, weaving together social and ecological encounters into a tapestry of movement and audio performances inspired by the murmurings of place. One Step Theatre uses performance and participation to facilitate environmentally focussed creative encounters. Our performances offer a platform for young people to include their voices in the current environmental conversations within their local community. One Step Theatre's last project, If Not Now, explored the relationship local families in our coastal county have with the global plastic pollution crisis, touring schools, libraries and museums along the Devonshire coast. Follow us on Instagram @onesteptheatreco and Twitter @onesteptheatre Date: 15th August 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact Full evaluation available upon request. Reflecting on all three performances, they were organic in style and presentation. Although the audio and environmental space were consistent, the audience and the actors interaction with the audience, the pace, playfulness and intensity were different. It was clear that all of the actors grew in confidence as the performances progressed. From discussion with the young people over the week, at the end of the final performance and from talking to their families, the project has had a strong impact in developing their confidence, their resilience, their creative and performing skills and improved their social and emotional well-being. Being co-creators in the work, using their own ideas and being treated as adults were regularly mentioned positively by the participants. Being encouraged to participate in an activity which was outside their comfort zone by someone they trusted, a teacher, a family member or a friend, was also important. During the week trust between the group grew so they were more willing to take risks and explore performance strategies they had not encountered before. By the end of the week there was a strong sense of collaboration and understanding within the group of participants which was evident not only when speaking to them for feedback but also within the performance. This is surprising bearing in mind the age and backgrounds of the participants. Parents and family members also confirmed the young people's new found confidence in working with people they did not know, a developing resilience in completing a project and not giving up when things were not comfortable, and increased social confidence. All skills and attributes the young people can build upon in later life. The young people and audience members regularly spoke of seeing their environment in a new light; appreciating the ecology of a small space and examining how humans can impact on this environment. The project provided an opportunity for the participants to voice their ideas and opinions in a creative way and for the audience of mainly adults to listen to them. 
URL https://openairperformance.com/gallery/
Title Exeter at Sea 
Description By Sheila Ghelani and Sue Palmer The Exeter was an East India Company ship that made 8 voyages from the UK to Bengal and China via St Helena around southern Africa, and back. Join artists Sheila Ghelani and Sue Palmer as they map this route onto Exeter, triangulating the histories of elsewhere onto the contemporary places of the city - a local / international heritage tour. Sheila Ghelani and Sue Palmer both work individually as artists whose work spans performance, audio and moving image. Each artist's practice centres on using research to make artistic work with detail and resonance, for public places, made for the passerby or the guest. The pair were last in Exeter in 2019 when they shared Common Salt, their collaborative show and tell on nature, empire and memory at Southernhay House - presented by Scare the Horses. Date: 7-8th August 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact An online zoom sharing of the work was presented in August instead of the performance, due to NHS track and trace pings. The research for the piece, in the audience booklet, was made available to all who attended. 
URL https://www.sheilaghelani.co.uk/news/2021/8/1/exeter-at-sea-7th-and-8th-august
Title GPS Embroidery: Acts of (in)visible repair 
Description GPS technology functions through a web of invisible interconnections. The beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic made dependency on all such fragile systems more obvious. What are the unseen but essential networks within the urban environment of Exeter, and how can we care for them best? GPS Embroidery: Acts of (in)visible repair invites women and girls from three different parts of the city to help us create GPS embroideries around the concept of repair. Through community mapping and "walkshops" they share the small but important ways we can enable biodiversity to thrive. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact The GPS embroidery- act of (in) visible repair project took place in four locations across Exeter in the week of 19th to 24th July 2021. Each workshop was open to women and girls and used the technology of GPS trackers to (in) visibly 'embroider' on the landscape. Three extended 3-hour workshops took place in Northernhay Gardens with a group of Chhaya dancers; Higher Cemetery with a group from Mothers who Make; and St Thomas Pleasure Park with a more open mixed group from the local community. There were three further one-hour workshops which were open to women and girls on Saturday 24th July and took place in Riverside Valley Park. These audio workshops drew upon comments on the environment from participants who had taken part in the extended workshops. The week of events illustrated the many challenges of outdoor theatre - the extended workshops took place in bright, hot sunshine with participants experiencing some of the highest temperatures of this summer, whilst the weather for the workshops on Saturday was more varied and a complete contrast; ten degrees cooler, drizzly and at best cloudy with sunny intervals. As the additional sub-title of 'acts of (in) visible repair' suggests, the project was a post-pandemic response, providing a creative activity which encouraged participants to reflect on unseen environmental networks. Being participatory and immersive the project also enabled participants to engage physically, cognitively and emotionally. As a result, ten participants out of sixteen interviewed reported improved well-being and/ or personal repair. Overall, 23 women took part in either the St Thomas Pleasure Park workshop (10) or the Riverside workshops (13). Feedback was gathered from 16 participants; 10 from St Thomas and 6 from Riverside workshops. Comments from participants Immediately following the workshop, participants spoke about not being sure about what to expect and coming with few expectations. This was thought to be an important part of the experience by 'finding an openness to it'. One person also spoke about experiencing a nervousness about the event because they were not able to embroider or sew and wondering if this was going to expose her weaknesses. • 'It was a wonderful coming together. There was this wonderful sense of trust and I thought it was facilitated so well. We were held so well and warmly. That enabled us to have such a positive experience. I think it was a lot to do with the facilitation. There was a wonderful serenity to itThought provoking but also very calming. A very deep experience. I came away feeling really nourished and calm but also energised in a really positive way. Really wonderful Life affirming kind of way'. • 'It gave me a new way of thinking. I loved the way it made me think about how we use each other - connect with each other - how we can change small things and make a difference'. • 'It was a mindful walkIt was good to be peacefulmade me quieter it was so good to have time to be peaceful'. • 'I've come to the park every day since lockdown with O (baby) but I am usually walking, rushing not looking. This made me look and appreciate'. • K, was accompanied by her two-year old daughter: 'I wish there were more things like this - Doing things which are creative and being able to do it with A (daughter). It is good to have a connection with the wildlife of the park - I hadn't thought of that before. It didn't matter how much knowledge you had it was accepted by the group and X and X explain things well. I loved the way you could visualise everything, our ladybird and give it a character. During the lockdown we really appreciated the nearby - like noticing the birds in our garden. We found 21 different species come into our garden. We are trying to continue to create that experience post-pandemic, but it's hard not to go back to how you were'. • H, was accompanied by a young baby, 'It really helped me to connect with my old self. I was a Biologist, a Marine biologist and it reminded me of tracking. It was so different from what I do now. Great. So good to connect - thinking about migration, space - trying to make tracks between us and those who live in the park - Tracking using GPS was really interesting - Thinking about what else leaves tracks. I will continue to connect and think about what we have done today. I feel as if my brain has been switched onstimulated. It was special today - interacting with everyone. Being seen as H rather than others seeing the baby first and being seen as a mother. Being a scientist there are lots of parallels. I didn't know what to expect. It was an unexpected pleasure. It was more internalised, thought provoking and fed the mind. In the later discussion it made me think about the things we take for granted. I tend to do the same walk each day, around here (the park). Today, was nuanced, it will make me think differently when I walk here again I love living here in Exeter. The pandemic has made us explore where we live. Really thought provoking. So good'. • P, an older person who ran a community dance workshops: 'It wasn't what I expected. It was hot. I enjoyed thinking like an animal. The GPS, looking at the space and ways we can fill it with drawings was interesting. The best thing was meeting everyone else.' • S, who was a parent of a young child joined the workshop half-way through the session. S was not part of the Mothers Who Make group and had heard about the workshop from a local Social media group: 'It was really nice and helped you connect with nature'. • A, a member of Mothers Who Make but did not have her child with her, told me she enjoyed these times for herself when her daughter was at nursery: 'It was wonderful, soothing, meditative. Connecting and Reconnecting with nature. I learnt so many things about wildlife - thinking about how we are all connected. How we connect to different space, how we move in a space, how we walk Meandering. We usually walk from A to B, but this was a different way of walking. It really made me think about how we relate to the world around us - This tends to get lost in the digital world we live in. I loved the activity - to tune into something meaningful. Connect, Observe, Connect'. • B, a woman with additional mobility needs who came to the park regularly said, 'I really enjoyed it being only women. It's why I came. I knew I would feel safe to express myself without worry. It gave me a very different way of understanding space'. • J, 'I really enjoyed the kind of walking we did which was very unique, very conscious walking. It almost reminded me of Butoh Dance or something like that slow and consciouswalking with an awareness which was very 3-dimensional. We were walking and aware and thinking of what pattern we might be making on a bigger picture but also aware of all the minute detail around us'. Five hours after the session I also received a response from a participant via a text message: • 'Hi, even though I was late at the event I enjoyed the shade and sitting in a circle briefly with a diverse(ish) group of women talking about space, movement, walking. I thought the short exchanges in pairs were valuable. Lizzie created a thread across the generations in the space. I liked that a lot because often it's difficult to connect/ network between different age groups. If space can connect us, then it's so important for our sense of self, our diversity and also the tapestries we create collectively. I enjoyed the sharing that was guided through different activities. The performance made me feel, think, engage the whole of me. I'm sorry I can't attend on 24th [workshops in Riverside] but I'm certainly delighted I could make it briefly today. Thanks'. Several factors which added to the success of the workshop for participants which included: children being made welcome so the mothers could bring them to the workshop, the timing of the workshop providing something to do in the middle of the day and the outdoor environment within the local community. She felt the workshop enabled participants to being their own knowledge which was then developed by the artist: 'Lizzie, came with so much knowledge of science, geography and the area. I was surprised and so were others I spoke to about the depth of conversation which was generated in both workshops. You had to stop and pause from normal life. You had to take everything in and focus at a micro-level. Participants said how excited they were by the workshop, particularly having time to look at things in a different way. There's very rarely a time or opportunity where you can do something without a key purpose and enjoy it just for the joy of it. It combined Art, Science, Technology and the Environment and fed the brain. That's what people really enjoyed - they were challenged and had to use their brain - they were made to feel as if life was important beyond being a parent'. What is clear from the comments received, was the joy from participants of all ages who took part. Several recurring themes emerged, such as: seeing things differently which enabled participants to think, see and appreciate the space in a new way. Many participants spoke of experiencing the park in a utilitarian way during lockdown, particularly with young children as part of a daily pandemic routine. For many, the workshop improved their well-being due to the peaceful and calming experience created by the facilitators. There was also an enjoyment and re-invigoration which came from developing new knowledge and re-connecting with the Arts, Science and Technology at a deeper level. Audio workshops - Riverside Valley Park Three one-hour audio workshops took place within the Riverside Valley Park on Saturday 24th July involving between three to six participants each workshop. Like the extended workshops, these focussed on the interconnectedness between us and the natural environment and used GPS trackers to etch, repair and 'embroider'. Unlike the extended workshops participants eaves-dropped on snippets of conversation recorded at the previous workshops and followed audio instructions pre-recorded by Lizzie. The impact of this medium of delivery meant participants concentrated on the steps and movements to create an embroidery image, as one participant explained; 'You had to follow instructions, but this immersed you into the performance. Drawing patterns on the ground' (R). Observing the activity, for much of the first half of the workshop, participants tended to look down on the ground where they were walking: 'I enjoyed drawing with my feet. It made me deliberately look at the earth beneath me, seeing shapes. It was interesting seeing people visualise or drawing round a tree. I wouldn't usually feel comfortable doing an activity like this, but I felt reassured. It helped me reconnect to Riverside'(R). This sense of re-connection or seeing Riverside differently was regularly mentioned by participants from the workshop and was similar to previous feedback at the extended workshops. Some participants spoke about walking through Riverside Park as a regular exercise activity during lockdown, but as lockdown restrictions had been lifted they had visited less often. Other regular visitors also appreciated the opportunity to see a familiar space from a different perspective. The workshop had a performative element, as identified by R, above. Passer-byes, passing through the park often stopped to watch, either from the pathway which cut through the two groups of embroiderers, or from an elevated position on a nearby bridge. To an observer the movements were of a computer game, non-humans following a leader in synchronised format or a ritualistic ceremony with moments of stillness and silence. As the workshop progressed, there was increased interaction with the environment and more individual and expressive movements, such as a young girl playing with grasshoppers in the meadow, or concentrated individual 'stitching'. Many of the participants were from the University; some came to the workshop knowing Lizzie's work in general but not having experienced it first-hand. At the end of the performance many participants commented on the emotional connection and impact of the activity: • I've known about Lizzie's work for a long time but never had the opportunity to participate. It was really lovely. I found it really calmingthe voice was really calming. I don't always like audio tours but this one I found quite emotional - particularly when they were talking about repair. It made me reflect on my personal life (B). • I've known about Lizzie's work. I found about the workshop today through a University post. I was worried I may need to know about stitching. It made me look at the space. We know the park, but this time was different - walking in a different way - a solitary walk due to social distancing. This experience made me look at things in a different way. Look at the environment in a different way. I thought it was an interesting pace - Mindfulness Slow. I usually walk much faster than the audio. I felt a strong sense of connection with the space - It was a canvas we were marking (I). Two other participants had no connection or knowledge of Lizzie's work, one having seen the event on a local Facebook page and the other heard about the event from a friend. For this person, she was attracted because it was a woman only event. She said she felt safer in this female environment, although she did feel the workshop being described as embroidery was rather stereo-typical. Both women enjoyed the event due to its meditative quality, needing to focus on little things and the world beneath your feet - 'I saw a grasshopper and damsel fly. I found myself noticing the insects more because I was looking more'(An). The care the company had taken in compiling the audio and considering the technical aspects was also important but they both offered suggestions for future events: • 'I liked the interweaving of voices, hearing snippets of people's conversation. It made you stop and look. I thought all of the technical side - getting the email with an audio file worked fine. I would have liked a few more pauses so you could stop a bit longer to observe the environment and not only listen - that would have made it a more visual experience but then you would lose being able to listen to people talking. The earphones tended to exclude all other sensory elements' (Al). • 'I liked the voices, but I found them a bit quiet which could have been due to my headphones The event could have excluded people who don't have Smart phones as it didn't say in the instructions that you needed one' (An). When asked to reflect and summarise the experience in brief statements, participants from across the three workshops spoke of: • 'Re-connecting to physical space and area, reconnecting to the environment; Thinking outside the box; Time and Space'. • 'Calm. Sewing - yes, I feel like have been sewing. Repair definitely - drilling down beneath the surface. Lovely connection with people. Exploring together. • 'Peaceful. A group meditation on walking, space and repair'. • 'During the pandemic I have been used to being outdoors as a family. This involved walking in a larger group, but it was with people I know so it was different but very safe'. • 'I felt it was a bonus knowing each other. I enjoyed being outdoors. I was more aware of the distance between us. I felt more comfortable because we were outside. It felt as if we were alone in the field'. As this project provided an artistic response post-pandemic, the comments, above, illustrate how the 'walk-shop' contributed to the participants growing confidence of mixing with others outdoors in a safe, socially distanced way and instilled a sense of healing and repair. Longitudinal impact of the project a) Lizzy's story - working on the project 'It was fantastic, engaging, interesting Lizzie has a wonderful way of working with people. I found her inspiring. Being involved in the project has given me such confidence' (LH). It was clear from my discussion with Lizzy that the workshops and being involved as a producer for the extended events, had had a profound impact on her, giving her the confidence to be able to produce future events and take on new 
URL https://www.gps-embroidery.com/
Title Swan & the Same 
Description By Running Dog Theatre It's the annual get-together between the Exeter Canoe Club and the Exeter Cygnet Club. A chance for birds and boaters, humans and swans to come together, break bread and go forth along the canal. Join Running Dog Theatre on a canoe ride along Exeter Canal, as we tell stories, play games and celebrate the magic of being on and of the water. Expect swan songs, swan puns, swanny whistles and, swans. Venue: Exeter Canoe Club. Date: 7th-8th August - 9:30am on Saturday and 8:30am on Sunday (each performance lasts about 90 minutes). 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact Running Dog theatre company seek to develop this waterways based audience work into the future. 
URL https://openairperformance.com/gallery/
Title Tell it to the Bees by Louise Ann Wilson 
Description Tell it to the Bees is a walking-performance that starts on the roof garden of the Princesshay Shopping Centre in the heart of Exeter where four beehives are sited. Participants in small groups will be introduced to the honeybees by the beekeepers and then follow a map of a route around the city visiting a number of bee-stations along the way. As they move from station to station they will be drawn further into the world of the bee and discover the significance of the age old practice of sharing stories of important life-events or worries with the bees: it was thought these 'tellings' were important for the wellbeing of the hive and the beekeeper. Prompted by varied and original encounters, actions, sights and sounds this new work creates a space for participants to reflect upon life-events experienced during the COVID-19 Pandemic and recovery. Date: 13th and 14th August This walking performance explored the interrelationship between bees, humans and memories of the pandemic via a tour of six 'bee stations' situated within the vicinity of Exeter city centre. Stopping at the 'bee stations' provided an opportunity for narration and a time of reflection on the connection between the life of bees and humans. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact Full evaluation available upon request. Comments and Findings a) The Cathedral Statistical data from the question - Have you attended the Cathedral before? • For 13 audience members this was the first time they had visited the Cathedral. Many of these people lived outside of the Exeter area. One family commented, 'we visited Exeter last year and ate near the Cathedral but didn't go inside. Such a pity. It was beautiful. We will come again and visit it'. One person who lived in Exeter but had not been inside the Cathedral said 'I will go again. There is so much to see and many stories. It seems like a very good space to chillto be peaceful'. • 16 audience members had visited the Cathedral previously, but almost all commented that this had not been for a long-time, most at least 5-15 years previously. o Many spoke about attending for a concert previously o 3 people spoke about attending for a regular religious service (Evensong, Communion) o Many spoke about attending a Christmas Carol Service but not recently. Both new visitors and those who had attended previously, spoke positively about how differently the Cathedral felt- appreciating the openness due to the pews being removed, enjoying the art works throughout the Cathedral. Evaluation summary conclusions • Observations and analysis of the comments from audience members confirm the performance was enjoyed by the vast majority of participants. They fully engaged with the content and style of the performance at multiple levels - cognitively, personally and emotionally. Many audience members spoke of the connections they were able to draw between the past and the present -particularly in times of disease and concern, and the interconnectedness between humans and bees. • The production had been carefully constructed to ensure maximum safety from Covid infection, and from the emotional impact of the pandemic by sensitively inviting audience members to explore and record their own experiences. • Audience members appreciated being part of an outdoor experience. They also appreciated the creativity and theatrical elements, such as the design, film and live music. • The production enabled both those who live locally, and visitors new to the area, to gain a greater appreciation of the Cathedral and undiscovered areas within Exeter City centre. Many of those interviewed expressed wanting to re-visit the city and the Cathedral again. • The ending of the performance with the giving of gifts of honey and a candle and the sharing of mead and honey cake, was considered a very special ending and appreciated by all. • This production was an excellent example of bring together outdoor performance in public spaces as a post-pandemic response and act of recovery. 
URL https://www.louiseannwilson.com/news/tell-it
Description Key findings
From our research with theatre and performance artists (including survey, practice-research, interviews, audience research)
• Outdoor performances can cultivate new appreciations of local environments, emphasising the pleasures of sustainable living, supporting a sustainable recovery and 'building back better'.
• Innovative approaches to outdoor performance can enable live, dispersed, in-person audiences to gather in urban green spaces.
• Flexible and creative approaches from local authorities are key in supporting this work and increasing the range of outdoor spaces used for performance.
From an online questionnaire with theatre and performance artists:
• 80% had increased administrative burdens.
• 85% experimented with new forms of work.
• A shift to digital performance-making was mirrored by a smaller shift to working outdoors.
From an online questionnaire survey with local authority events officers:
• In 91% of cases, almost all events planned for summer 2021 were outdoors.
• There was unanimity that live outdoor events are vital to getting people back into towns and cities and 82% recorded strong demand from the public for live outdoor events during the pandemic.
• 72% reported that changing government guidance was their principal challenge during the pandemic.
Exploitation Route From our research with theatre and performance artists:
• The research corroborates existing evidence of the impacts of the pandemic on events workers.
Despite complaints of a late and insufficient response from government support structures, theatre and performance artists responded locally by innovating. This research points to the potential of the more expeditious introduction of support in enabling arts and culture to contribute to recovery.
• Outdoor and environmental performances have the potential to enable communal gathering and green recovery. However, increased administrative burdens were an impediment. The research questions the wisdom of 'one-size-fits-all' policy interventions, and points to the importance of bespoke guidance and regulation to enable smaller events and performances that pose less risk.
From our research with local authority events officers:
• Events play a key role in local recovery, but smaller, arts-related events in outdoor spaces are overlooked in policy and would benefit from more tailored support.
• There is a need to focus investment and support in recruiting, retaining, training and upskilling local authority events officers who play an important role in mediating events and in balancing multiple stakeholder interests that require an enhanced understanding of public health and safety.
Sectors Creative Economy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The impacts of the six performances upon audiences were recorded by an in-project evaluator, who communicated these to the practitioners involved. As a result, at least two of the artist-practitioners are extending their work on arts and sustainability. In early 2023, some of the commissioned artists from OTB are proposing a new festival of live performance in Exeter.
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Russell Group Deans of Arts & Hums / HEPI new report on the Humanities
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Contribution to a national consultation/review
Description Creative Peninsula
Amount £100,717 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/W009064/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2022 
End 01/2023
Title Outside the Box: Open Air Performance as a Pandemic Response - artists questionnaire 
Description Responses to artists questionnaire 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Supported the creation of the policy brief. Supporting research articles in progress. 
Description Department for Culture, Media and Sport policy briefing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A policy briefing event for DCMS, organised by the AHRC Pandemic and Beyond project. The PI presented the policy recommendations arising from the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://pandemicandbeyond.exeter.ac.uk/projects/bridging-distance-in-the-creative-industries/outside...
Description Exeter City Futures connect - Community, Culture, Creativity and Climate sharing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact On Wednesday 24 November 2021 seven presenters, and 40+ attendees, joined us for our Connect event on Community, Culture, Creativity and Climate, and shared details of creative initiatives around climate change. The presentation covered what creativity can achieve in the context of the climate crisis, and also considered the role art plays in our lives. Interesting and productive breakout room discussion followed, considering the question; "How can art, creativity and culture play a role in communicating, envisioning, and actioning a sustainable and net zero future within Exeter?".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.exetercityfutures.com/community-culture-creativity-and-climate-wrap-up/
Description Outside the Box website and blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The website and blog for the project attracted a range of enquiries from artists, members of the public and media. As a result, we have kept the site live beyond the project at the University's expense.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://openairperformance.com/
Description Small Scale Solutions: Re-Inventing the Live Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The PI contributed to the opening panel for this event for arts practitioners, audiences, stakeholders, funders and researchers discussing the OTB findings in relation to the below.

Has Covid-19 killed the live event? Many in the Creative Industries fear so (e.g. Biado: 2020), and there is evidence to suggest that audiences will only gradually return (e.g. Audience Agency 2021). The creative responses from arts practitioners during the Covid-19 lockdowns are therefore likely to be central to the revitalisation of public engagement with live arts events following the pandemic. Can we say with confidence: 'Long live the live event!'? Post-Covid, the live event will certainly be different. Our online conference aims to share ideas, experiences and findings around new kinds of art event. We are particularly interested in small scale events which are not mainly pursued online. Together we will explore the diverse creative responses which have emerged to meet the challenges presented by the pandemic in relation to live events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://research.bangor.ac.uk/portal/en/researchactivities/small-scale-solutions-reinventing-the-liv...