The outside of the building is virtually finished and the new entrance in now in use. The downstairs areas are complete and the lift is in place - stairs have yet to be built to the upper level. The new theatre space only needs some minor details finishing and was in full use with the new seating rake for our Christmas production.
Douglas Fir window frames which we have made on-site ourselves to save money are now being fitted.. Downstairs underfloor heating and radiators are due to be connected by the end of the week. Last lot of blown paper insulation for upstairs is being done during the week and painting of the theatre should also be finished. The building will finally be weather proof by the end of the week. Seating rake and lift ordered, ready to be installed in early December. WE HAVE TO RAISE £20,000 OF SPONSOR MONEY TO COMPLETE THE BUILD. A SEAT CAN BE SPONSORED FOR £150 AND A PLANK CAN BE SPONSORED FOR £50. SO FAR WE HAVE RAISED£6,000. We hope to achieve charitable status very soon which will mean all sponsor money can be gift aided. A sponsor form and information will be available to download from the "News" section of the website in a few days.
Despite the wet weather, the roof is almost finished. Internal walls are going in, wiring has begun, first load of larch has arrived for the external cladding and the concrete floors will be going down in the next couple of weeks.
The steel posts are in place and the framework is almost complete. We even managed to re-cycle the steel from the old building to be used as part of the new structure. Roof next.....
The puppeteers pit is dug and cast in concrete - no more crawling on knees to work rod puppets!!! Steel corner posts due to be put in place next week, ready for the steel structure of the building to be erected in mid May.
Our funding bid to R.D.P.E. (Rural Development Programme for England) and to the Arts Council have both been successful and building work has begun. Completion is scheduled for August/September. The old milking parlour which we originally converted ourselves into additional exhibition space/puppet theatre is almost demolished and we are clearing the site for building work to begin. The project has been planned with minimal disruption to the Gallery & Coffee Shop, which will remain open at all times. The Easter puppet show will be held at Skelton Village Hall (details under current puppet show). The summer puppet show will be held in the new building although the upstairs internal fixtures will not be finished. An official opening will take place later in the year with a new production in celebration. We need to find match funding towards the cost of the new seating rake, so we are asking people to sponsor a seat for £150. A small name plaque will be attached to the seat and a particular row or seat number can be chosen. Anyone who is interested, please contact us.
Upfront Arts Ltd. was established in 2003 as a without profit company, to promote the arts of puppetry, mask and mime, and the performing arts.
The work of Upfront Arts has been nurtured with the support of workshop space and office space provided by Upfront Gallery.
Upfront Puppet Theatre has been creating performances for the last seven years in it’s own intimate 80- seat venue. Details of these shows are archived under the puppet theatre section of this web site under “past productions”
The company was formed by John Parkinson who initially trained as a theatre designer with the English National Opera design School London, now the Motley Design School in Drury Lane. John is passionate about the art form and history of puppets of all types and included puppets in many of his mainstream theatre productions.
Upfront Arts provide workshops in schools throughout Cumbria and beyond. Annual Christmas shows are well supported by schools. The after show “meet the puppet and puppeteers” sessions are very successful. For many of the young audience members it has become one of their first experiences of a live theatre show. Schools interested in booking workshops are invited to apply for further details in the contact area of the general website.
Upfront Arts also have become the owners of a historically important collection of trick marionette puppets, made by Stan Parker of Carlisle. (www.stanparkerpuppets.co.uk) A Heritage Lottery grant was given to purchase the puppets and a yellow and white framed “circus” tent. The company have re-staged Stanelli’s Super Circus in a new setting and it appears in festivals throughout the year.
In 2008 the circus was invited to perform at an international puppet festival in Slupske in Poland and the company have been invited to return to the festival in 2012. During 2009 the company performed in Barrow at “Zircus Festival” for Kendal Arts International, Dent Folk Festival and at Skipton International Puppet Festival. In 2010 the company were invited to Mistlebach International Puppet Festival as well as doing puppet making workshops for Kendal Arts International in Penrith and performing at Carlisle Fire Show. Upfront Arts commissioned Stephen Mottram to perform his show, "The Seed Carriers" in Penrith along with a workshop exploring puppet manipulation aimed at puppeers in the north of England.
For the 2011 Skipton International Puppet Festival, the company were invited to take four days of community and school workshops in carnival puppet making for the parade, followed by two days of children's puppet making workshops during the festival.
A new independent website for Upfront Arts is under construction. This will promote all of the work and activities of the company in it's own theatre, the community and in schools.
The designs for a new puppet theatre building, puppet museum and workshop areas have been approved and the company are in the process of fund raising to achieve the dream of building a specially resourced centre for puppetry. It is planned that the building will provide facilities that match puppet theatres on the continent. This will enhance the company’s own productions and enable visiting companies to visit, bringing less equipment with them. The museum will house and exhibit Upfront’s growing collection of puppets from around the world and will also host exhibitions from other puppet collections in Great Britain. The building will have front of house resources and also storage and construction workshops for the company. There will be a dedicated separate education/ performance/workshop area for practical exploration of the art and history of puppetry.
To date the company have raised £187,000 towards the project from the Rural Development programme for England and they awaite the outcome of a bit to the Arts Council of Great Britain for £90,000. If the Arts Council agree to fund the project then building can begin in March 2012. The building would be the first purpose built theatre and arts centre in Eden and the first purpose built puppet theatre in England.