Well, what a year this has been – certainly quite different to anything we might have anticipated. And yet I can say that there have been silver linings for Justice in Motion. Yes, it has been challenging, and there have been uncertainties throughout – but we’re still here! Thanks to everyone who has cheered us on this year, who has supported and encouraged us. And to all those who have participated and contributed in various ways. Thank you!
The featured picture probably sums up 2020 quite well. Loads of gravel, dirt and uneven ground, and yet always something to hold on to. Whilst sometimes uncertainties forced us to bend over backwards, there have also been bouts of light and bursts of colour keeping us inspired. And of course the main themes for us this year were Loneliness and Black Lives Matter, both captured within this one image (featuring Junior Cunningham).
2020, despite all its challenges has been a good year for Justice in Motion. For one – our MOVING TOGETHER project developed to an extent it would not have under ’normal’ circumstances, and was all the more precious for it. We had just begun the process earlier in the year with a Movement Workshop, with participants from the Archway Foundation. Followed by a Knowledge Exchange Workshop with researchers, artists, therapists, and participants, which had fuelled our understanding of the topic: Loneliness.
Once the pandemic hit, we had to adapt quickly – we could have postponed the entire project, yet it didn’t seem right to do. Especially not since Covid-19 with all its restrictions highlighted the sense of loneliness and isolation, and the need for human connection.
Based on interviews, we created a total of 30 Video Gifts, each one a unique dance film. We also developed a Short Film, which marks our first venture into dance for screen. It premiered during the IF Oxford Ideas and Science Festival, followed by a live Q&A.
And I can’t not mention our epic online Flashmob, which was quite an undertaking. And yet – it did exactly what it set out to do: bring people together to move in synchronicity, to the music and dance moves inspired by people’s experience of loneliness (…and its opposite). Ahead of time the public was invited to learn all of the choreographies directly from the dancers, in a sequence of online Dance Tutorials.
We also streamed our well-loved show BOUND on Anti-Slavery Day (and the week following). Followed by a live panel of esteemed guests, including representatives from The Shiva Foundation, GLAA, Stronger Together, the CIOB and even the UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. This allowed hundreds of people to see the show, that hadn’t had a chance to witness it before. We even held 2 more internal post-show discussions as an example of Devised Theatre on Human Rights issues – one with the 1st year students from Rose Bruford, and another one with a student from Turkey.
Furthermore we were able to shift all of our Dance Classes online, and have offered regular classes throughout the year on Zoom for all levels. This made them accessible, and easy to attend from the safety of people’s own homes. Astonishingly, they have attracted dancers from all over the world – Colombia, Portugal, Mexico, Germany, Ethiopia, Greece, France and the US. As such, restrictions actually broke down barriers.
This year gave us an opportunity to invest more into our digital strategy – as such we have been beavering away on designing our brand-new website (big shout out here to Unusual Studio for a fab job). Have a look around if you haven’t already… 🙂
We were so grateful to receive Emergency Funding from Arts Council England, and some smaller grants through OxLEP, which helped us through this year financially. They also allowed us to keep working with several of our freelancers and collaborators, on some pretty extraordinary projects. But also the countless donations from our friends and supporters, for which we are deeply grateful, kept us going!
We took part in several webinars and gained new skills. We stayed connected with festivals and colleagues from across the world, and featured in RAAH fest. We dedicated much time on working through racial injustice. We educated ourselves and joined in with the Cultural Partners to develop a radical change strategy and Manifesto for racial equality across the Oxfordshire Arts sector. Apart from that, we recruited 4 new trustees, whom have joined the board to help us steer through the season ahead.
And of course – plans and ideas have been brewing in the background. We’re much hoping that we can take our stunning parkour theatre show ON EDGE back on the road in 2021. Since we have discovered our strength in digital storytelling, we are also scoping to create a film version of the show. This will make it even more accessible and widely available, and certainly give us a new challenge… so we’re excited. 🙂
Many thanks to everyone who supported our Big Give Campaign, in which we raised over £4.5K to enable the remount of ON EDGE this year!
One thing we have definitely recognised in 2020, is how resilient and agile we are as a company, how we are able to adapt to even challenging circumstances, and how limitations allow us to thrive. We are artists, and we carry the Spirit of God. So bring on this new year – whatever it holds.
Keep in touch, and let’s face this together! x