Today we are so pleased to present this article (the first of two) on the Library Takeover program, organized by Apples and Snakes, a performance poetry group based in the UK (check out their awesome library-based SPINE Festival work in our previous series). This program pairs youth who are interested in producing events at libraries with creative professional mentors who work in arts administration and production to organize large-scale cultural programs in libraries. Enjoy! ~Laura

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WHAT IS A LIBRARY FOR?

‘To study, to learn, to be safe, to be part of a community’ – participant

‘Introducing people to fun art/culture things you might miss’ – participant

Apples and Snakes along with Half Moon Theatre have teamed up with Library services across the London boroughs of Waltham Forest and Croydon to produce Library Takeover, a brand new creative initiative focussed on bringing more cultural events into libraries. We’ve brought together three young people aged 11-18 years and three members of library staff in each borough, all of whom are passionate to learn about events production and participation.

‘It was quite tough recruiting the staff and young people in both boroughs, Waltham Forest and Croydon, but we got there in the end and have a great mix of staff and young people’  – Nicky Crabb, Apples and Snakes

A library is… ‘a place to work, and to read (for fun)’ – participant

The young people and library staff are all receiving professional training and mentoring from experienced arts producer Maeve O’Neill and Half Moon Associate, Lucy Foster. Maeve and the director of Half Moon Theatre, Chris Elwell, have created a bespoke Library Takeover training programme, segmenting the different skillsets required of a producer into individual toolkits, with each toolkit covering a different area, such as communications, finance, and production. Throughout the project, the group are working together under the guidance of Lucy and Maeve to plan and devise an exciting new programme of library events, which will go live to the public in the Autumn this year.

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We’ve had a great planning phase with Chris Elwell and Maeve O’Neill designing the bespoke training programme which is made up of 12 sessions’  – Nicky Crabb

The delivery of the Library Takeover training programme is already in full swing, with sessions taking place at Thornton Heath Library in Croydon borough and Leyton Library in the borough of Waltham Forest. After some initial icebreakers and team building, the group of trainee producers got stuck in to some blue sky thinking and began to push the potential of their creative events programmes. They are now pinning down the final plans for their events, with talk of a potential literary fashion show and an urban open mic style event.

A library is… ‘a place where I can isolate myself to study without being disturbed’ – participant

Meet the Library Takeover Team

Creative Consultant and Facilitator Chris Elwell, Director CEO Half Moon Theatre 

Chris will be delivering workshops and leading his staff from Half Moon Theatre in the realisation of this project. Trainer, facilitator and theatre producer with wide experience, he specialises in professional theatre for and with young people, with a strong track record in participatory work.

Theatre director, facilitator, and producer Lucy Foster
As a director, Lucy has created several of her own shows including Epic, The Pirate Project and Oh My Green Soap Box, all of which have toured across the UK. As an Associate Director with the theatre company Improbable, she has worked on several of the company’s shows as Participation Director, including The Wolves In The Walls, Panic, and Theatre of Blood. As a facilitator, Lucy works for a number of organisations, to deliver a diverse range of projects. She has been an Associate Artist for Half Moon Theatre for over ten years.

Independent Arts Producer and Facilitator Maeve O’Neill

Maeve has worked as a freelance Arts Producer in the fields of theatre and spoken word for many years and draws on her depth of experience gained there, including work with NIE Theatre, Novus Theatre and Jacksons Lane Theatre. Maeve has also worked as a performer, facilitator and director before finding her niche as a producer.

Programme Manager Nicky Crabb, Apples and Snakes

Creative consultant, arts producer and facilitator, Nicky’s recent work with libraries culminated in a 10 day festival of creative events across 11 London boroughs. During this time Nicky conceived the idea for Library Takeover, recognising and wanting to bridge gaps in the skills of library staff that she was working with.

A library is… ‘a place to discover and learn’ – participant

Library Takeover is presented in partnership with Apples and Snakes, Half Moon Theatre, Waltham Forest Libraries and Croydon Libraries. It is funded by the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) For more information about Library Takeover, visit the Apples and Snakes project page

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