Symphony of the Countryside – a Covid journey

RURAL touring arts charities, including Dorset’s Artsreach and Cornwall’s Carn to Cove, have got together to create a film that captures the images, words, music and sounds that make up our rural landscape from the south west to Northumberland

At a time of isolation, with no possibility of live events in venues, rural touring schemes up and down the country had to work creatively to continue their connection with rural communities.

The enforced pause to holding live events gave the schemes the opportunity to collaborate on a project designed to explore new ways of enjoying and taking part in artistic practice,. The result of this collaboration will be premiered on Monday 26th October.

Armed with their own cameras and smartphones, volunteer promoters who are active as organisers of theatre, concerts and live performances in rural spaces, captured sound and video content from their communities during lockdown.

These were stitched together by filmmaker Gemma Wearing to create a visual landscape overlaid with music and poetry from artists in each of the participating regions. She says: “Symphony of the Countryside has been a real journey and the whole process has been very different from how I normally work. It was a bit daunting not being able to storyboard the footage and just having to wait and see what arrived, but I was completely blown away with the quality and diversity of footage that we received.

“It’s just so amazing to have a piece of work that has so many contributors from across the whole country and that really resonates with how the majority of us have connected with nature during these difficult times.”

Tim Smithies of Carn to Cove says:  “The idea behind The Symphony of the Countryside was to give participating rural communities the chance to share their ideas online and understand each other better as a result. The connection with professional artists drew these ideas and thoughts into a coherent artistic product.”

Holly Lombardo, director of National Rural Touring Forum, which provided funding to help make the project happen, says: “We wanted to support initiatives that reached communities in lockdown, in meaningful and creative ways. We were looking for projects that captured the process of delivering art and culture, while supporting artists and those in isolation.”

The participating groups are Artsreach, Carn to Cove, Devon’s Villages in Action, Highlights (Cumbria, County Durham and Northumberland) and Live & Local which works with a network of voluntary groups across Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire.

The film will be premiered live at 10am on Monday 26th October; for more information visit  https://artsreach.co.uk/projects/symphony-of-the-countryside