Public Art Commission

Artist Commission Brief

Background

The Gordon Craig Theatre, originally opened in 1975, is the only major theatre in Stevenage. The theatre is housed in the Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre, which is situated opposite Stevenage Train Station and just over the bridge from Stevenage Leisure Park. The theatre consists of two halls: one a 501 seat venue with a tradition of musicals, opera, dance and orchestral concerts, family shows, and one of the longest running Pantomimes in the country; and the second hall, a 1,200 person Concert Hall that shows live music and comedy.

We think a theatre is a very important building to have in a town: a place for enjoyment, edification and inspiration for all of the community.

The Project

Stories from The Gordon Craig is a project started in January 2019 led by Stevenage Arts Guild, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and delivered in partnership with The Gordon Craig Theatre and Stevenage Museum.

The Gordon Craig Theatre has kept an archive of posters, programmes, photographs and all sorts of interesting things since the building opened in 1975. Locked away in a cupboard, it’s been almost entirely unexplored… until now!

Throughout 2019, we’re working with a team of volunteers to catalogue all these bits of theatrical history and to build a full record of performances that have ever taken place at The Gordon Craig. We’re digitising as much of the material as we can and we’ve made an online searchable database to allow the public to delve into the archive and explore the Theatre’s past.

The project’s also planning an exciting new exhibition focusing on the social history of The Gordon Craig Theatre at Stevenage Museum from 16 Nov 2019 as well as collection of oral and video-documented histories.

Finally, there is also budget for a creative response, timed for launch/unveiling/premiere early in 2020, dedicated as Hertfordshire Year of Culture, which is what this commission is for.

There is currently an Arts Council project being delivered that will engage communities with the heritage of Stevenage’s cycle network and the wider New Town story/development, with creative responses installed on the cycleways. There is additional synergy for further artwork and heritage content to highlight and enhance the cycle network for increased use. It has therefore been decided to align with this ambition through an artwork commission, situated on the cycleways, that responds to the Stories from the Gordon Craig project.

The aims of this commission are:
• Provide a creative response to the Gordon Craig Theatre’s heritage highlighted through the Heritage Fund project
• Provide an opportunity for community volunteers to further illuminate valued heritage
• Draw attention to this heritage through increased community engagement along the cycleways
• Contribute toward the project’s legacy through a permanent installation
• Further amplification of the contribution of The Gordon Craig Theatre to the cultural health of Stevenage through connection with 2020 Hertfordshire County of Culture
• Enhance the cycleways more generally to encourage increased use (also corresponding with other related initiatives)

The final commission can take any art form. There are underpasses and green spaces to the sides of cycleways that can be utilised.

Proposals should demonstrate how they will seek to engage with members of the local community. We are open to innovative or unique ideas which encourage us to think in new ways about heritage and the idea of place.

Location

The designated location for this art commission is the cycleway junction within the Fairlands Way and Lytton Way junction to the NW of the Tesco Extra in Stevenage. Consideration for creative proposals can include the south-west underpass if proposing to create an installation that uses an underpass; otherwise, proposals are free to utilise the green space along the cycleway approach and within the surrounding roundabout. Please see photos here for clarification

Duration

The development of the project will take place in autumn and early winter 2019 into early 2020.

Budget

A project budget of £2,500 inclusive of VAT will be managed by the project partners, primarily for artist fees. There is an additional allocation of up to £500 inc VAT for materials and/or related site costs.

Expression of Interest

Proposals should provide:
• A one-page statement, explaining initial proposal thoughts, the community groups you might wish to engage with, why you would like to be considered for this commission, and how your experience is appropriate for a project of this type
• Your CV (max 2 pages)
• A portfolio of relevant previous work (up to 10 images/videos and/or one pdf up to 5 pages)

Please email to andy@storiesfromthegordoncraig.org.uk

NB. For inspiration, it will likely be necessary that you visit: www.thegordoncraigtheatrearchive.org.uk

The deadline for expression of interest is 23rd September 2019

Next Steps

Following expression of interests, Stevenage Arts Guild, Stevenage Museum, and the Arts & Heritage Forum will evaluate the proposals to select the preferred candidate and negotiate agreements by early Oct 2019.

The Project Partners

Stevenage Arts Guild

The Stevenage Arts Guild was founded in the 1950’s to encourage, to sustain and to co-ordinate the artistic endeavours of the people of Stevenage. The Arts Guild has a wide range of members – from the performing arts, choirs and orchestras to floral arts, photographic societies and locomotive societies. www.stevenageartsguild.org.uk

Stevenage Museum

The story of the Stevenage from the Stone Age, its development as the first New Town and to the present day, holding a wide range of events throughout the year for families, children and adults. Stevenage Museum is funded by Stevenage Borough Council. www.stevenage.gov.uk/about-stevenage/museum

The Gordon Craig Theatre

The Gordon Craig Theatre has been entertaining audiences from across the home counties since it first opened its doors in 1975. This 501-seat theatre boasts a varied programme of live entertainment and maintains a proud tradition of presenting first rate opera, dance and orchestral concerts. The Gordon Craig Theatre is operated by a charitable trust, Stevenage Leisure Limited, in partnership with Stevenage Borough Council. www.gordon-craig.co.uk

The Arts & Heritage Forum

The Arts & Heritage Forum is a collection of community partner individuals and organisations, including SBC, Stevenage Arts Guild, and Stevenage Museum, that take part in ownership and action to achieve the aims set out in the Arts & Heritage Strategy, Stevenage Re-imagined. This project will especially work with the Forum subgroup that formed to deliver Stevenage Re-imagined’s public art aims.

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