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Outer-London venues form consortium to tour outdoor shows in the suburbs

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A new performing arts consortium formed from six outer-London venues has been launched to tour large-scale outdoor productions within the venues’ resident boroughs.

The Albany theatre in Deptford, Artsdepot in Barnet and Millfield Arts Centre in Enfield have joined forces with Watermans in Hounslow, Harrow Arts Centre and Tara Arts in Wandsworth to create Circulate, the new consortium.

Arts Council England has provided the group with a three-year grant of around £500,000 from its strategic touring programme, which aims to bring more shows to areas in the UK with limited access to the arts.

The group plans to take one major show annually to six high street locations close to each venue, which will be free for audiences to attend.

For its first year, Circulate has commissioned London-based Emergency Exit Arts, which specialises in site-specific work, to create a new production. Called Spin Cycle, the promenade piece – described as a “musical on the move” – will include circus aerialists, dance, comedy and audience participation.

Five core performers will lead the show, while up to 40 young people trained by EEA will help to guide audience members. The piece, which is inspired by game shows, will also feature a 10-metre moving tower.

EEA will also run a three-year programme with Circulate members, which will help 13 to 21 year olds create performances in public spaces.

Circulate’s aim is to engage wider groups of people with the arts in their local area by developing the venue’s outdoor programmes.

Audience development organisation the Audience Agency, which is supporting the consortium along with the Greater London Authority, will provide tools for the venues to analyse the impact of the tour.

Dani Marshall, producer of Circulate, said: “Most people are willing to travel into central London for the arts, whereas with the outer-London areas, especially following on from last year when there were lots of outdoor performances, we are keen to continue these shows where people don’t experience the arts as often.”

She added: “There are also so many spaces that are underused and can be brilliant for staging spectacular performances that give people a sense of pride when they come to town.”

Circulate is an offshoot of Showtime, a free outdoor family programme that was part of the London 2012 Festival.

Spin Cycle begins at a location near the Albany theatre (south-east London) from September 7 and tours until November 2, when it ends at a space close to Artsdepot.

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