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Shift: NTS working on major new arts project for North Lanarkshire

Published: 04 Oct 2017


The National Theatre of Scotland is delighted to be working with CultureNL Ltd and North Lanarkshire Council on a large scale participatory arts project, Shift, bringing their unique model of artistic engagement and high impact theatre-making to the people and locations of North Lanarkshire in 2017 and 2018.

Taking place over six months, Shift will engage with communities across the local authority area, through a number of creative projects.  Public performances will include six free pop-up trailblazer events, taking place in various locations in December 2017 and a series of large site-specific participatory finale performances, involving a community and professional cast which will take place in a surprise location in March 2018. Full details to be announced in early 2018.

North Lanarkshire is known throughout the world for its rich industrial heritage. Once the home of iron and steel production, local employment has now shifted away from heavy manufacturing. Throughout the project hundreds of residents , workers, leaders, labourers, the unemployed, students, youth and  OAP’s will be asked to reflect on how successfully this shift has been managed and what opportunities and threats still exist in their worlds of work, in times of dramatic global change.

A National Theatre of Scotland team of leading artists will work with CultureNL arts, venues and heritage teams, museums and libraries to reach into the heart of local communities to collect stories and insights which will be transformed throughout the project into art works.

Shift will reach out into all parts of the local community, and create new and exciting opportunities to access world-class cultural activity across North Lanarkshire- Laura Mackenzie-Stuart, Creative Scotland

Talent from across North Lanarkshire  will be creatively harnessed to contribute to the project , including local choirs, writing, video and arts groups, and youth theatres, all of whom will be  involved in  creating stories, songs, artworks and exhibitions as part of the project and the final performances.

There will also be a number of pop-up creative opportunities in interesting locations, including a travelling Howff which will visit local businesses, with an invitation to staff to have a ten-minute skive, a cup of tea and a chance to tell stories about their working lives. The Howff is scheduled to visit Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life, Motherwell Concert Hall and BioCity, with other sites to be confirmed.

Laura Mackenzie-Stuart, Head of Theatre, Creative Scotland, said: “Based on local stories and experience and rooted in the geographic, industrial and social history of North Lanarkshire, SHIFT will reach out into all parts of the local community, and create new and exciting opportunities to access world-class cultural activity across North Lanarkshire."

National Theatre of Scotland Associate Director Simon Sharkey (Granite, The Tin Forest, Submarine Time Machine) will lead the project. The National Theatre of Scotland has established an international reputation for its participatory theatre projects, with recent successes including Granite in Aberdeen (winner of the Arts & Business Scotland The People award which recognises partnerships that use the power of culture to engage with people in Scotland’s communities); To Begin… in Forres and Wigtown and Jump in Fife, East Glasgow and Kingston, Jamaica. In October 2016 the Company hosted its first international participatory theatre festival and also took part in the multiple award-winning we’re here because we’re here, a UK-wide participatory arts event marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, conceived and created by Jeremy Deller in collaboration with 26 UK arts organisations.

Simon Sharkey, Associate Director, National Theatre of Scotland said: “North Lanarkshire has an extraordinary industrial and social heritage and the people across the local authority have unique stories to tell about the worlds of work, past, present and future. CultureNL and North Lanarkshire Council are the perfect partners to embark on this journey which will lead to exciting creative encounters over the next six months and a spectacular production, in 2018”.

Cllr Heather McVey, Chair of CultureNL said: “We are excited that a National Theatre of Scotland team of artists will work with CultureNL arts, venues and heritage teams, museums and libraries, to go to the heart of communities throughout North Lanarkshire”

Cllr Paul Kelly, Depute Leader of North Lanarkshire Council, added: “This is an exciting and ambitious project which will reflect on the changing nature of the economic landscape in North Lanarkshire and the impact which this has had on the communities and people who live here.”

Lucy Casot, Head of HLF Scotland, said:  “Thanks to National Lottery players, HLF is able to help communities learn about and take pride in their local heritage as well as training in new skills.  The SHIFT project will be no exception and will enable participants to learn about the fascinating industrial and social heritage of North Lanarkshire.  Learning about history can be rewarding, fascinating and fun!