The Myth Of London For Artists.

By Hildy Harland

Throughout my whole life as a northern performer especially as a child, London has been a place of myth and legend for me, the Unicorn of the UK. I have a bit of Puss In Boots-itus when it comes to our capital, but I definitely don’t think that this is my fault and honestly the older I get the more unfair it seems. In this age of media influence (I realise the irony of me stating this through media) we are increasingly taught that London is the place to be, you’ve made it if you live or work there, you’re a big player, someone to take notice of, a success. I even had it from an ex-boyfriend of mine after stumbling across him in a pub (not literally) a year or so after we split “Oh hi, so what are you doing now? I thought you would be living in London by now?”. It’s everywhere! People get taught it at universities, particularly in the dance and performance industries after all most castings are held in London even for companies that aren’t even based there.

Photo by Martin Lopez on Pexels.com

So my question is WHY? Why do we have to have such a segregated community that is so influential and greedy? Yes it might sound a bit harsh to call it greedy, but for me it feels that way. At the moment as a Northern artist 100 miles north of Leeds, I feel like we are really getting the crappy end of the stick and I for one am sick of it. As a country the arts have been hit hard when it comes to public money, funding and general support and recognition, it is a struggle for anyone to get their hands on any kind of funding or commercial success and with the extra kick in the teeth by Brexit and Global Pandemic the industry is setting up to recover from even harder times. So isn’t it only fair that as artists and arts industry professionals we make sure we are spreading what we do have across the country as much as we can? Is’nt it only fair that we make these changes as we come into a new era post pandemic after watching shows from all over the UK online, participating in classes and workshops that we now, more than ever ,should be make casting and just our communities in general less london-centric, particularly in the film and TV sector.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Now I know at this point some of you maybe feel like I’m not appreciating what we do have, such as some of the fantastic theatres and organisations we have in let’s call it the ‘North-North’, which really isn’t the point of this blog, I really believe we have some amazingly talented and hardworking arts venues and arts professionals . However there is so much more we can do to put a stop to this over idealisation of our capital and I feel like we all need to be aware of doing this and try to stop it or at least tone it down. Why can’t a northern city not be just as amazing to live and work in as London as a performer, producer etc? Why can’t the big companies come to us? It’s all about how we see and value ourselves or our region and often as hard as it is to admit we feel or have been made to feel by others because we have a regional accent and/or because we are based 300 miles from London that we a are not as important as good or as valid as artists, companies or organisations.

Now I will admit that this blog has been triggered by a few things happening in my own life, so maybe I am completely on my own with this and just ranting to make myself feel better, or maybe this is something you all feel at times? I can tell you this is not a negative thing for me, if anything it has made me more determined to put the effort into working together with other companies and organisations to bring opportunities in the “North North”. But I would love to hear your thoughts and start a bit of a conversation

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Marvellous Moves

At the beginning of this month like most people I was contemplating the year ahead and what I wanted to achieve. I’ve set some very vague goals and targets for myself and for my career. Most of them involve self growth through  building on my practices and growing stronger as a performer.

As well building performance skills a huge part of my growth into making a living from what I do, is generating some physical evidence of my choreography skills. I have always been passionate about creation of movement and it really always has been something I really enjoyed and been told I am quite good at. Although I love being on stage I have had a few jobs recently where I have had fun directing and choreographing too.

Over Christmas I was cast in a play called Dark Christmas by emerging play-write Julian Kilburn. I not only got the chance to perform but actually fell into the role of doing a little bit of light hearted choreography for one of the final scenes.

Here is a little snippet from the night.

It was wonderful to work with actors and give them some movement built from the characters they have created and their stories. Everyone worked so hard learning the movement and giving it their own stamp, particularly as we ended up with such a small amount of time to work on things.

I am now looking to connect with more Theatre makers  and directors to work with in incorporating movement into their art as a choreographer. It would be wonderful to hear from anyone interested in working with me. Drop a comment below if you are interested or pop over to my Contact Hildy page.