Author Archives: Mair George

  1. These Hills Are Ours

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    Friends and collaborators Daniel Bye and Boff Whalley

    Do you ever want to run away from it all?

    This week Devon is hosting the world première of These Hills Are Ours, written and performed by writer-performer Daniel Bye and singer-songwriter Boff Whalley (Chumbawamba), which explores their mutual love of running, celebrates the freedom to roam wild places – and asks what they are really running from.

    Originally set to open nearly one year ago before COVID-19 closed theatres, These Hills Are Ours will premiere in Devon from the 17-22 May. It is presented in partnership between Beaford Arts and Villages in Action and will visit small communities throughout Devon.

    For the last three years Dan and Boff have been running a series of routes, from the centre of the town in which they found themselves, to the top of the peak overlooking that town – culminating in one epic journey for Dan, more than twice as far as he is ever run before. But what were they running from?

    Dan and Boff’s “Wild Tour of Devon” will see them running from show to show, between performances in five rural locations across the whole county, and covering nearly 120 miles in the course of the week. Local runners are invited to join them along the way and their progress can be tracked live via OpenTracking.

    These Hills Are Ours is the most personal piece of work either Dan or Boff has made, the most heartfelt, and the most direct. It’s really funny and genuinely moving.

    Daniel Bye said: “Boff and I have worked together on lots of projects, from very small to large enough to warrant an AA road sign. And work conversations always had a habit of drifting into conversation about running. So we thought it was high time to make hay out of that and work together on a show with running as its starting point.

    As these things do, it is evolved into something about much more than that: non-runners will get just as much from this show as runners. Anyone who is ever enjoyed the countryside, celebrated freedom, done something really hard, or just wanted to run away from it all, will be at home in this show.

    For those who want it, though, there is a bonus for runners: in each venue we will invite the audience to join us for a run the following morning. The route will be an escape, a route to the nearest high, wild, or green place. Because that is what we have done together as part of working on the show and it’s great to be able to share that with the audience.”

    These Hills Are Ours is directed by Katharine Williams and produced by Daniel Bye, Boff Whalley and ARC Stockton. It was commissioned by North Devon’s pioneering rural arts organisation Beaford, Eden Project North, Lancaster Arts, Leeds Playhouse and Shoreditch Town Hall.

    For more information on These Hills Are Ours visit


    Sun 16th – Northam Burrows to Woolsery – 12 miles
    Mon 17th – in person rehearsal for the first time and open the show in Woolsery.
    Tue 18th – Woolsery to Dolton – 22 miles
    Wed 19th – Dolton to Bondleigh – 10 miles, with a show in the evening
    Thu 20th – Bondleigh to Chagford, via Taw Head and Dart Head – 25-26 miles, with a show in the evening
    Fri 21st – Chagford to Ashburton – 16 miles, with a show in the evening
    Sat 22nd – Ashburton to Blackadon Farm – 12 miles, with a show in the evening
    Sun 23rd – Blackadon Farm to Sugary Cove – 20 miles, final choir performance. If you are a singer and would like to join us to perform the final song please contact

    (Please note that these shows are all very-limited capacity but tickets are still available for the Friday night performance at the Tinners Moon Festival. Head to our Events page to find out more.)

  2. Job opportunities – Villages in Action is recruiting!

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    ViA is a charity that has been promoting the arts in southern Devon for over 25 years and offers a ‘menu’ of high-quality arts performances to a network of volunteer promoters who pick from the choice of events for their communities.

    We are looking for individuals to join the team at a key moment as we transition from an ACE-funded project led by Creative Kernow to a more autonomous organisation. We are interested in the distinctiveness of Devon and the opportunities for community-inspired activity to take ViA forward to the next stage of its development.

  3. A look back on Jaw Jaw

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    Jaw Jaw was a project conceived before the Covid-19 pandemic to address isolation and loneliness in our communities, and to offer creative and cultural activity to those who had previously been unable to access it.

    Villages in Action in partnership with Exhuberant Health & Wellbeing and Wellmoor, a part of the Moretonhampstead Development Trust, delivered a hybrid project which took on a new relevance and importance during the global events of 2020. The impact of the pandemic on the performing arts industry has been devastating and the touring sector, of which Villages in Action is a part and on which it relies for artistic programming, has been severely inhibited. Although these challenging circumstances were in place we were able to reimagine the project, and we delivered it in two parts:

    Phase 1 of the project ran from February until August 2020, focusing on remote online delivery of creative workshops as well as informal ‘club’ sessions managed and hosted through the communication system with additional features used to support participants outside of the creative workshop activity.

    Phase 2 focused on 3 elements of live activity during Autumn 2020:

    • Hybrid (online and in-person) movement workshop and performance sharing
    • She Who Dares: Off The Wall Aerial Dance Circus live rehearsal (live stream)
    • The Strongman by Bash Street Theatre (in-person public performance)

    If you would like to discuss the project please contact

  4. Villages in Action is Recruiting Trustees

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    About us

    Villages in Action (ViA) is a charity that has, for nearly 30 years, brought high quality professional performing arts events to communities in Devon, as part of a national rural arts touring network. We continue to work with many local volunteers to select and present theatre, music, dance and more, right in the heart of our communities.

    With community gatherings on hold, we are currently running a pilot digital programme with a social prescribing partner, to test the delivery of arts activity directly into people’s homes. Started before the Covid-19 pandemic, this is now attracting a good deal of interest and we hope to develop the work more widely.

    For the last 3 years the work of Villages in Action has been managed by Creative Kernow, the charity that runs Carn to Cove, our neighbouring rural touring scheme in Cornwall. We are now at a pivotal moment in our development, looking to the future to ensure the long-term sustainability of arts-led activities in rural communities in Devon, and we’re excited about the opportunities that a period of reflection and partnership working has provided.

    As part of that process of reflection and realignment for the future, we are now in a position to recruit some new board members to help us to develop and deliver an ambitious and relevant plan of activity.

    By empowering communities to develop, organise and sustain their own cultural activity we aim to:

    • act as an agency to enhance the quality of life of all members of those communities
    • reduce social isolation
    • build up a sense of enterprise and self-confidence
    • address other issues of relevance to our communities through specific, time-limited projects.

    Villages in Action is a registered charity and limited company, governed by a board of unpaid trustees, currently receiving funds from Arts Council England, East Devon District Council and Teignbridge District Council., with recent project funding from Devon County Council.

    Our work mostly takes place in the Council areas of Teignbridge, East, West and Mid Devon and South Hams.

    The role of Trustee

    The trustees are responsible for the overall control and direction of the organisation in two main areas: support and accountability. The role of the Board is to provide entrepreneurial and strategic leadership to steer a renewed way of working in pursuit of the organisation’s objectives, and prudent and effective control including the assessment and management of risk.

    There are some areas of specialist expertise that we are particularly keen to have represented on the board, in order to strengthen these aspects of Village in Action’s delivery, but we are much more interested in your experience, knowledge and commitment than your formal qualifications:

    • Access/Inclusion – personal/professional insight into how cultural organisations can address barriers to participation/engagement.
    • Arts in education and work with young people including skills training
    • Fundraising – a track record of income generation within the cultural/charity sector.
    • Health & Safety – the knowledge/confidence to advise the Board and support the Management Team as we develop this important area of our practice.
    • Legal – the professional knowledge to guide the Board in its legal responsibilities, with a specific focus on partnerships and employment.
    • Marketing – direct experience of developing brands and building audiences, particularly within the arts/ cultural/charity sector.
    • Theatre/Live Performance/Creative – professional experience of working across the UK Theatre industry, with artistic practice and/or producing an advantage.
    • Representation of potential partner organisations with a non-arts focus such as the environment, health, digital audience development. There will be others, they may have a Devon-based or a wider focus.

    The duties of a Trustee are:

    • To ensure that Villages in Action complies with its governing document (Memorandum and Articles of Association), charity law, company law and any other relevant legislation or regulations.
    • To contribute actively to the board of trustees by giving firm strategic direction to Villages in Action setting overall mission, vision and values, defining goals, setting targets and policies, and evaluating performance against agreed targets.
    • To ensure the financial stability of Villages in Action, maintain proper fiscal oversight and ensure sufficient resources are secured to fulfil the charity’s mission.
    • To ensure that controls and reporting systems are robust.
    • To review and monitor risks.
    • To safeguard and promote the values of Villages in Action enhancing its reputation, and ensuring transparency and accountability in the organisation’s activities.
    • To actively contribute to Board recruitment, development and review and succession planning.
    • To respect the role of staff.
    • To maintain confidentiality of Board business.
    • To declare any potential conflicts of interest at the earliest opportunity.
    • To attend all board meetings, except when absence is unavoidable.
    • To engage fully in the charity’s work, including attendance at performances/events and, on occasion, to formally represent the charity on behalf of board and staff.


    The roles are unpaid voluntary positions. Travel expenses to board meetings will be provided where appropriate. The position will normally be for a three-year term, ideally commencing from Summer/ Autumn 2020. Elections/re-elections take place annually at our December AGM.

    Board members are expected to attend a minimum of 4 board meetings per year and to participate in the work and promotion of the organisation between board meetings where possible, attending performances and events as well as being an ambassador for Villages in Action.

    Each trustee brings a unique range of skills and experience, and we encourage people from all backgrounds and with all levels of experience to apply.


    We are seeking people with a range of experience as well as the skills, knowledge and commitment to support our existing work and to ensure that our board represents the widely varied communities that we try to serve.  We think that the best organisations have a diversity of voices, so we’d like to hear from anyone regardless of their race, gender, disability, religion/belief, sexual orientation or age. 

    The organisation strongly supports continuing professional development for both staff and volunteers. Trustees may benefit from mentor support if it was mutually felt to be beneficial. In addition, Board members are expected to attend a Board Away day once each year, the content for which to be decided by the members in advance.

    How to Apply

    If you are interested in joining the board of Villages in Action, please download and tick the relevant boxes in Trustee Skills List, and send along with a cover letter/email outlining your interest and experience in no more than 2 sides of A4.

    We shall be looking for a range of different skills, and do not expect you to be able to tick all the boxes!

    Please send your completed application to:

    By 12 noon, Tuesday 23 June 2020, with interviews during the week commencing 29 June 2020.

    Please note that all our meetings are currently being held on line because of the Covid-19 situation.  We will be keeping this under review as lockdown regulations evolve over the next few weeks and interviews may also need to be done remotely. 

    For an informal conversation about the role, please contact the Chair of Villages in Action, Catherine Devenish, on 07977 502246.