The shows, whether inside or out in the open air, pop up in all sorts of unexpected places, such as beaches, cliff tops, village halls, mining museums and even castles. Miracle take its shows out to rural communities in the south west that otherwise would not get to enjoy professional theatre.
Miracle travels around 15,000 miles each year to take live theatre shows to an annual audience of 20,000 people across Cornwall, Devon and beyond. More than just fun and frolics (though there is plenty of both), Miracle’s work helps to improve remote rural areas by bringing innovative and exhilarating new theatre and workshops straight to them.
Miracle delivers around 80 performances each year, many of which take place in non-theatre venues, with little infrastructure or technical equipment.
To achieve its aim of being entirely self-sufficient on tour, Miracle effectively incorporates technical resources into its offer. This allows the company to be innovative and adaptable, popping up and transforming any space into a theatre, often for one night only. Miracle’s flexibility and ongoing determination have ensured its longevity and enabled it to build an established brand and loyal customer base.
It is essential for the audience experience that everyone can see well, so Miracle insists on performing on a stage. As the majority of our venues, particularly outdoors, don’t have one, Miracle needs to tour with its own staging.
Until now, this has consisted of 8-12 slabs of steel decking. This does the job well, but is heavy and takes a long time to set up, necessitating early get-ins, and to take down, extending the working hours late into the night. It also requires practical skill and know-how, so it is not a job which can be shared with volunteers provided at venues. The steel deck, although currently an essential tool, is also a key weakness in the efficiency of our business. It makes the job of rural touring arduous and grueling and has deterred some talented performers from touring with us.
Annie Ukleja, Miracle’s General Director undertook a Development Needs Analysis session with Rose Goodship, the Cultivator Performing Arts Creative Business Advisor, and as a result submitted a successful application to Cultivator’s Creative Investment Grant.
Through the grant, Miracle have been able to create an innovative staging trailer which will significantly improve the efficiency and productivity of their business and make life on the road a much more positive experience. Less energy spent on erecting steel deck will mean more energy being put into their artistic product, and reduced working hours will also lead to improved morale, continued consistent quality and potentially increased revenues by allowing more time for performance when less is needed for travel and set-up (for instance through the addition of matinee performances).
Annie has said ‘Working with Rose and the Cultivator team has been a really positive and supportive experience. It’s great to get to review our business together and build a programme of positive benefits – including funding, training, professional development and networking – which we know will help Miracle move forward as a stronger business and, as such, will also benefit the wider theatre industry in Cornwall.’
The trailer only requires 2 people to set it up safely – and can be rigged in about 20 minutes! The staging has already improved their touring set-up and the trailer itself has a cover which serves as an excellent signage opportunity – a mobile advertising hoarding on which to promote Miracle and the current production – ‘The Third Policeman’.
Outside of touring periods the staging will be available for hire at reasonable rates. This will create an excellent resource for Cornwall’s thriving arts and events industry and a new revenue stream for Miracle.