For the last week of February the Spark Conference took place and I really enjoyed it and actually love that it is online. Last year it was one of the last events I went to before Covid-19 became a thing, the speakers were great, the company brilliant (I spent a lot of the day with Dionne from Live & Local) and the lunch was fantastic. This year it’s been online everyday and I’ve been enjoying it from the sofa and loving that you can watch the talks back at anytime. I’ve taken part in The Pandemic & Brexit, Outdoor Arts and Place Making. I might go back and watch some of the digital talks next week.

I really enjoyed the Outdoor Arts talk. It reflected on how different arts organisations have overcome the challenges of the pandemic and had brilliant outdoor arts in 2020. Angus from Outdoor Arts UK began the session, he reflected on his visit to Greenwich & Docklands International Festival in summer which he visited by bike. It happen later in the year than usual and was ticketed (for free). Slits was a great way to have performance happen, the performers were 2m from the audience as they were 2m in the air! Chorus by Ray Lee was an installation that took place which is made up of tall light sculptures that support spinning arms that have red LED lights that orbit and deliver a sonic spectacle. I’ve never seen Ray Lee’s work but I would love to. For the installation simply less people were able to see it at one time. I think the towering scale of each sculpture would make people stand apart to be able to view them and take in their magnitude. Angus also spoke about a document that Outdoor Arts have put together about the road map out of lockdown, I will be giving this a good read later on.

Hannah Moore at the RSC spoke about the creation of and running their 2020 summer programme. They created a stage in the gardens close to the theatre and safe spaces for the audience that they created by spray painting hearts onto the ground for people to sit within. The hearts were inviting, pretty and self explanatory. Some were big and some were small to allow for different sized households and bubbles. They created a great atmosphere, as Hannah quite simply put it; celebrity – easy to access – entertaining. Her top tips are:

-Make it site specific and really know your space,
-Manage expectations of everyone involved including the audience,
-Set your sights and be realistic,
-Be honest with the audience,
-Create something joyful and bold,
-Let the audience know how to stay safe,
-Create a detailed risk assessments and share it with everyone.