At a time of isolation, the national network of rural touring schemes have worked creatively to continue their connection with rural communities. The enforced pause in holding live events in villages up and down the country gave the schemes the opportunity to collaborate on a project designed to explore new ways of enjoying and taking part in artistic practice.
Armed with their own cameras and smartphones, volunteer promoters who are active as organisers of theatre, concerts and live performances in rural spaces captured sound and video content from their communities during lockdown. These were stitched together by filmmaker Gemma Wearing to create a visual landscape overlaid with music and poetry from artists in each of the participating regions. “Symphony of the Countryside has been a real journey and the whole process has been very different to how I normally work. It was a bit daunting not being able to storyboard the footage and just having to wait and see what arrived, but I was completely blown away with the quality and diversity of footage that we received. It”s just so amazing to have a piece of work that has so many contributors from across the whole country and that really resonates with how the majority of us have connected with nature during these difficult times” she said.
The idea behind The Symphony of the Countryside was to give participating rural communities the chance to share their ideas online and understand each other better as a result. The connection with professional artists drew these ideas and thoughts into a coherent artistic product.
Holly Lombardo, Director of National Rural Touring Forum, who provided funding to help make the project happen. “We wanted to support initiatives that reached communities in lockdown, in meaningful and creative ways. We were looking for projects that captured the process of delivering art and culture, while supporting artists and those in isolation”, she said.