West Midlands finds it gets lighter from here

Published: 1 December 2020
Reporter: Steve Orme

“Moments of happiness and hope”: It Gets Lighter From Here

A “virtual day of hope and positivity”, showcasing a collection of 60-second digital commissions from organisations across the West Midlands, is to mark the longest night and shortest day of the year in what has been an “incredibly challenging and unprecedented time for the industry”.

The West Midlands Culture Response Unit (WMCRU) is to stage It Gets Lighter From Here to provide “moments of happiness and hope” before it does literally start to get lighter. It will mark the winter solstice on Monday 21 December.

It Gets Lighter From Here has raised £34,050 for commissions, providing financial support for the region’s freelancers and community members who have been left without any income throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Actor and playwright Tyrone Huggins, who was a member of a WMCRU working group, said, “when COVID-19 landed its closure on venues in March, the arts community in the West Midlands came together to support each other and find ways of supporting our audiences.

“We came up with a unique idea of charting moments through this pandemic with a series of online festivals where organisations, producers and freelance artists could share their work.

“There’s much uncertainty about the immediate future and nobody can say what state things may be in on Monday 21 December. But what we will be able to say at sunset on that shortest day of the year is ‘it gets lighter from here.’ There’s a kind of magic in that thought.”

Artists and cultural institutions from across the West Midlands will come together to release hundreds of micro-commissions across their social channels with the hashtag #ItGetsLighterFromHere.

Another member of the working group, James Yarker from Stan’s Café, added, “there’s no official programme for #ItGetsLighterFromHere, so no one is saying what you can and can’t watch. Experienced and new artists are all in the mix together. It’s an evening for making new discoveries and, because it’s all on social media, you can share the things you like with all your family, friends and followers.”

Thirty-seven organisations from a large cross-section of artists and artforms will provide 179 commissions. The companies include Birmingham Royal Ballet, Pentabus, Warwick Arts Centre, Royal Shakespeare Company, China Plate, Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall, and the University of Worcester.

Each organisation has agreed to fund, manage and curate its programme of work, providing paid commissions for freelance artists or community members in the West Midlands.