Arts that matter in places that matter

Category Archive: Uncategorized

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. Jaw Jaw needs you!

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    Do you want to get involved in a singing or movement (dance) project with a difference?

    Do you live in East/ West/ Mid Devon, Teignbridge or South Hams?

    We are looking for people who don’t tend to go out much to join us for a series of online creative workshops, and meet-ups where you can have fun getting involved in group activities such as singing or well as virtual book clubs and journaling for wellbeing. The Jaw Jaw project connects you with a range of weekly workshops led by creative artists and meet-ups with leaders from Devon, all without having to leave home!

    How it works

    We’ll deliver a video communication device to your door, with instructions on how to set it up (we’ll keep it simple). All you need is a good internet connection in your house, and we’ll be able to set you up for video and chat communications. Every week for 6 weeks you’ll be able to access live workshops delivered by Wren Music and Jane Mason. Both are well known Devon based performing arts organisations. Wren Music is a leader in choral  singing and the folk music of Devon with many years of experience in exciting community based activity,  Jane Mason is a contemporary dance choreographer who will lead dance and movement workshops in this project.  No previous skills in either art form is required from the participants. The content of the workshops will be adapted to whoever is in the group, and our experienced leaders will work with you to get the most out of the sessions.

    What do we need from you?

    Jaw Jaw is a pilot project- we’re hoping to understand more about the possibilities of digital connection for people who are isolated by geographical, mobility or other health issues, yet who still want to engage in creative activity. We will ask you to complete a (fairly simple) questionnaire (either online or via a phone call) at the start, middle and end of the project, and all equipment will be provided for the duration of the pilot project (6 weeks). There is no charge, and we will arrange for the delivery and pick up of the equipment.

    Interested in finding out more?

    Contact Mair on

  4. Villages in Action statement on Coronavirus

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    In the light of the latest government announcement regarding the ban on travel and theatre visits, as well as a rising number of concerns raised by our promoters, we have taken the difficult decision to cancel all the remaining Villages in Action events for the spring 2020 season. We hope to reschedule as many events as possible for the future and will update our website as soon as we are able to confirm.

    All audiences who bought tickets in advance for Villages in Action events are in the process of being refunded by Ticketsource, and customers will receive an email about this. Anybody who has paid for tickets locally should contact the local promoter for a refund.

    Whilst we are unable to deliver our live events this season, we are committed to supporting our artists as much as we can. To assist in meeting some part of the performing artists’ costs, we ask that, if you can, audiences might consider donating the cost of their ticket to Villages in Action. Any amount donated would make a huge difference to our organisation – if you would like to donate, you can do so here.

    We aim to keep the office open but are following government advice on home working and so some members of the team may not be available to answer calls and receive visits. Please email with any queries and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

    We thank you for your patience and understanding at this time.

    Claire, Tim, Mair & Imogen
    The Villages in Action Team
    (updated 19th March 2020)

  5. Jaw Jaw comes to Devon

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    Jaw Jaw is a new Villages in Action project to extend the reach of our performance events into the homes and lives of those most isolated and lonely – both young and old –  in our rural communities. The project is designed to test new online methods of supporting these groups and bringing some of the joy and fun that rural touring provides in our area by working with health and social care partners active in our communities.  Performing groups including Devon-based Jane Mason Dance and Wren Music will support a programme of online interactive taster programmes to draw these audiences into our fold.

    We are using Voice Activated Devices which will allow members of the community with little or no keyboard skills to access online workshops, drop-in sessions and cafe-style events from their own homes. The devices have been purchased with support from Smartline’s Idea Generation Grant was which has allowed us to develop the initial equipment infrastructure, research and development costs to allow creative practitioners to target specific audiences.

    Apart from involuntary isolation because of geographic location, many isolated and lonely people are so because they believe they have nobody to talk to or meet with, and, worse still, don’t have much reason to do so. Therefore, simply giving them easier access to online services and communication systems achieves little. However, despite offering captivating reasons to connect and an easy way of doing so, there is still the task of persuading individuals to take the first steps toward engagement with Jaw-Jaw and to continue to do so. Using the Alexa platform helps overcome this, not only by giving those with little or no computer skills an easy way to connect to Jaw Jaw (and other online services) but also by facilitating the delivery of proactive ‘push’ notifications, reminders, automated alarms and schedules. In this way, individuals can be actively encouraged to engage in activities rather than passively relying on them to remember or care to connect.

    We have just taken receipt of the devices and our community leaders and artists are now becoming familiar with them and we will be rolling them out to participants who will be referred to us by GP practices and social prescribers in the next few weeks.

  6. Celebrating Village Halls Week 2020

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    Village Halls Week is an annual and national celebration of rural community spaces and the people whose time and dedication keep them going.

    Organised by the ACRE Network, the campaign runs from Monday 20th January – Sunday 26th January 2020 and sees a huge variety of events happening across England.

    We’d like to put the spotlight on Devon’s village halls and community spaces, so here’s how you can get involved:

    Celebrate your hall

    If you would like to put the spotlight on your hall there are a number of opportunities throughout the week. We would love to hear about how you’re using your village hall, what events you’re attending or hosting, and see pictures and videos of your local hall. Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter!

    Share your history on 23rd January

    Thursday 23 January will see halls celebrating ‘Throwback Thursday’, an online trend that looks into the past. To share your hall’s history, simply use your social media account (Twitter or Facebook) and use the hashtags ‘#tbt’ and ‘#villagehallsweek’. You could put up old pictures, old flyers, remember significant guests, share an old film or write an article on your hall’s history.

  7. Our Spring 2020 performance programme has sprung!

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    We are very excited to present our spring 2020 programme of theatre, dance, music, and more in villages across Devon.

    As our spring season begins, we are delighted to present a new programme of theatre, music, dance and family shows from across the world in Devon’s wonderful and varied village halls, churches, pubs and community spaces.

    All of our shows can be found on our events page, but here are a few season highlights…


    Our season starts with award-winning folk duo Ninebarrow, who combining breath-taking vocal harmonies and melodies to deliver songs and stories inspired by the landscape and history of the British Isles. An evening with the duo isn’t just a concert with superb music – it’s also a night of folklore and storytelling at its very best.

    Don’t miss them on:
    Saturday 11th January at Mary Tavy Coronation Hall
    Friday 15th May at St Michael’s Church in Shute.

    Flats and Sharps

    The season continues with Flats and Sharps, a four-piece Bluegrass outfit originally from Penzance, Cornwall. Delivering energetic, enthusiastic and spirited performances, their shows are a fresh and modern outlook on foot-stomping Bluegrass with powerful and well-crafted original songs. Their music blends strong harmonies and stonking solos, and their incredible stage presence and energy will have you dancing, laughing and singing along in no time!

    You can catch them on Friday 21st February at Buckland in the Moor Community Hall.

    The Neil Maya Quartet – 1959: The Golden Year of Jazz

    More great music comes from The Neil Maya Quartet, who present 1959: The Golden Year of Jazz. 1959 is often considered an extremely influential year in the development of modern jazz with a number of new sub-genres within jazz coming to the fore in this year. This special year spawned some of jazz’s finest albums of all times, including Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and Dave Brubeck’s Time Out. Neil has been developing the concept of creating a performance focusing on the music of this seminal year for two years, following the band’s very successful Brubeck Project. These performances are ones not to miss!

    See The Neil Maya Quartet on:
    Friday 28th Februay at St Michaels Church in Shute
    Friday 6th March at Mary Tavy Coronation Hall
    Friday 27th March at Talaton Parish Hall

    Scratchworks Theatre – The Great Train Robbery

    In the early hours of Thursday 8 August 1963, the heist of the century is underway. Signals are scrambled, phone lines cut and millions of pounds of cash stolen. Five days later the first clues are found, the gang is busted and the rest is history. But what about the ones that got away? Using a raucous combination of physical theatre, live music and clowning, Scratchworks Theatre will unfold the untold tale of the four feisty forgotten females from The Great Train Robbery, as they leave behind their kitchen-sink lives and embark on a madcap adventure of mischief and mayhem.

    Don’t miss them on Friday 6th March at Crediton Arts Centre.

    Wassail Theatre: HORSES! HORSES!

    Johnny’s putting on a Big Fun fundraiser tonight at the Nags Head, though he’s not in the mood for fun… HORSES! HORSES! is the darkly comical tale of a stolen horse, wild west-country soul and the mess we make of relationships. Landlord Johnny is desperately trying to save his pub, while his wife Susie is hiding out on Ted’s farm. A show performed in the midst of the local boozer with pub games, pints, crisps, heartbreak and laughter, country music, lots of karaoke and a few surprises.

    See HORSES! HORSES! on:
    Thursday 12th March at The King’s Arms in Stockland
    Friday 13th March at The Tradesman’s Arms in Scoriton.
    Both performances are free for a donation!

    Jane Mason – Night Flying

    Drawing on ideas related to deep time, the night sky and landscapes of being, Night Flying is a dance duet with long-time collaborator David Williams. Together they explore a constellation of associations related to memory, change and wonder.

    See Night Flying on Friday 13th March at Ashburton Arts Centre.

    Mr & Mrs Clark – Louder Is Not Always Clearer

    Jonny is a teacher, a workshop leader and an avid football fan. He’s an artist, a campaigner, he’s just become a father, and he is deaf. He loves to dance, but he can’t hear the music unless the bass is turned right up. Jonny was born deaf and grew up with a hearing family and friends who did not use the word deaf.

    This one-man show is an honest portrayal of a man perceived to be full of confidence and who is outwardly social but is inwardly vulnerable and at times isolated. In a hearing world, Jonny is different and Louder Is Not Always Clearer highlights those differences in a warm and humorous way.

    The show is accessible to D/deaf, hard of hearing and hearing audiences through the use of spoken English, British Sign Language and creative captions.

    See Louder Is Not Always Clearer on Thursday 19th March at The Beehive, Honiton.

    David Mynne – The Canterbury Tales

    This is Chaucer… but not as you’ve ever seen it. From the company that brought you A Christmas Carol, Dracula and The Odyssey comes a one-man performance of The Canterbury Tales. Revered as one of the most important works in English literature, The Canterbury Tales paints an ironic and critical portrait of English society in the middle-ages. All of life is here in these few bawdy, funny, serious and sometimes shocking, short stories. Experience a journey down the foul and fetid footpaths of fourteenth-century England, told with the usual irreverence, wit and silliness!

    See The Canterbury Tales on:
    Saturday 4th April at Fursdon Coach Hall
    Sunday 5th April at Awliscombe Parish Hall
    Friday 17th April at Black Dog Village Hall
    Sunday 19th April at Clearbrook Village Hall
    Friday 24th April at Clayhidon Parish Hall

    Not Now Collective – Pepper & Honey

    There are two types of people: the ones who move away, and the ones who stay and wait…

    Pepper and Honey is a new play about two women questioning the meaning of home. The play is timed to perfection in order to deliver a perfect Croatian pepper biscuit, baked in front of, and with the help of, a live audience.

    The baking process is intertwined with a story of what it is like to settle in a different country, leaving and returning and making and breaking family traditions.

    See Pepper & Honey on:
    Thursday 23rd April at Cadeleigh Parish Hall
    Friday 24th April at Milton Combe Village Hall

    Living Spit – Virgin on the Ridiculous

    Howard Coggins and Stuart Mcloughlin can no longer rely on apparent physical resemblances to Tudor monarchs. They’ve done Henry VIII, and the truth is neither of them looks like anyone else. But they won’t be deterred. They’re just going to have to dig a little deeper. Act a little better. Live a little dangerous-er, as they attempt to tell the story of the greatest Monarch that ever lived – Elizabeth: The Virgin Queen.

    See Virgin on the Ridiculous on:
    Tuesday 12th May at Black Dog Village Hall
    Wednesday 13th May at Staverton Parish Hall

    Thomas Bowes – Bach Pilgrimage

    Thomas Bowes is one of the UK’s most versatile and accomplished violinists, as a soloist, chamber musician, concertmaster and artistic director. In 2013 Tom undertook an extensive Bach Pilgrimage, giving fifty concerts of the unaccompanied Sonatas and Partitas of JS Bach in churches across mainland Britain and raising over £20,000 for various charities. His Bach Pilgrimage is now a growing feature of every season and events take him all over the world.

    See Thomas Bowes on:
    Thursday 14th May at Cadbury, St Michael’s Church
    Friday 15th May at Buckland in the Moor Community Hall
    Saturday 16th May at Whimple, St Mary’s Church
    Wednesday 20th May at Bigbury, St Lawrence’s Church
    Thursday 21st May at Sheldon, St James the Greater Church

    For more events on the Villages in Action spring season, and to book tickets, visit our events page.

  8. Job opportunity – Villages in Action is recruiting!

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    Villages in Action, a Devon rural touring scheme run by Carn to Cove, is looking to recruit a Part-time Project Co-ordinator for funding and advocacy.

    Villages in Action has been promoting the arts in rural south 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 village halls and community centres. Villages in Action covers the local authority areas of Mid, East, South and West Devon, Teignbridge and South Hams.

    ViA is looking for a flexible, creative and self-motivated person to support in developing the Villages in Action network, and in creating a sustainable future for the scheme. Your key role will be to develop relationships with established and emerging artists in the rural touring sector, with key arts organisations, and with non-arts organisations to widen the role of the arts in rural communities. You will be supporting and developing ViA’s relationships with current funders, and identifying opportunities for additional funding streams.

    You will be working with a small, dedicated and experienced team who are based in Cornwall. However, this post will be based at Exeter Northcott Theatre, Devon. You will be working with scattered, mainly rural communities and stakeholders, so you will need to be able to travel independently with your own transport.

    Title: Project Co-ordinator, Funding & Advocacy
    Salary: In the range £23,500 to £25,000 fte, dependent on skills and experience
    Hours: 0.4fte (15 hours a week), fixed term contract until August 2021. This may be extended if further funding is raised
    Start date: Week beginning 6th January 2020
    Office base: Exeter Northcott Theatre (the postholder will have flexibility on days and some travel by car and unsocial hours will be required).
    There will be a standard six month probationary period.

    The employer for this post is Creative Kernow, Cornwall’s leading creative sector support organisation.
    Creative Kernow runs a number of projects in Cornwall, with the key ones being Krowji, the creative workspace cluster in Redruth; the Carn to Cove rural touring scheme; the Cornwall 365 listings and cultural tourism project; the European funded Cultivator skills and business programme; Screen Cornwall and the FEAST community arts programme.
    This post supports the Carn to Cove team to programme two seasons per year of live performances throughout southern Devon as part of the Locomotor project, delivered in partnership with Villages in Action.

    How to apply

    Please download the job description and application forms below, and email your completed application form to by 9am on Friday 6th December 2019.

    Download the job description: ViA Job description November 2019
    Download the application form: ViA coordinator application form November 2019

    For an informal discussion about the roles, please feel free to call Claire Marshall at the office on 01209 312500.

  9. #ThanksToYou National Lottery players

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    We’re saying #ThanksToYou to National Lottery players with free tickets to selected Villages in Action shows this autumn.

    This year is the 25th Birthday of The National Lottery, and we’re excited to be a part of the celebrations by joining in the #ThanksToYou campaign, which celebrates the contribution of National Lottery players in supporting good causes over the past 25 years!

    Since The National Lottery’s first draw took place on 19 November 1994, more than £40 billion has been raised for good causes in the areas of arts, sport, heritage and community – that’s £30 million a week making a difference to lives of people and communities throughout the whole of the UK. The 25th birthday is a moment to celebrate the extraordinary impact The National Lottery has had on the UK, and to say thank you to National Lottery players for contributing around £30 million to good causes every week.

    To thank National Lottery players for their support, we will be offering 2 free tickets to our performances on 23rd, 24th, 29th and 30th November. The first two people to present any National Lottery ticket on these dates will be able to take up this special offer. Please check our full terms and conditions below.

    As a recipient of National Lottery funding, Villages in Action has been able to programme a wide variety of events in villages and rural communities in Devon. We are one of the hundreds of participating National Lottery-funded projects across the UK who are taking part in the #ThanksToYou campaign in this special Birthday year.


    This offer is limited to two tickets to each of the following shows:
    Saturday 23rd November – PaddleBoat Theatre at Newton St Cyres Parish Hall
    Friday 29th November – Vera van Heeringen at Clayhidon Parish Hall
    Saturday 30th November – Harbottle & Jonas at Colyford Memorial Hall

    The offer is limited to one show ticket per person
    Tickets must be reserved in advance by calling 01209 312500 during office hours (Mon-Friday 9am-5pm)
    A National Lottery ticket must be presented at the venue on the night of the performance.
    All National Lottery games qualify (including National Lottery draw-based games and National Lottery scratchcards). Proof of purchase of a National Lottery game can be either hard copy ticket or digital.
    The date of draw / purchase is not relevant.

© 2021 Villages in Action.