We're asking for your help to fund the six-stop tour of our brand new show, I, Spie: a new “concert-play” by Clare Norburn about composer and lutenist John Dowland and his brush with the Elizabethan espionage underworld. (Think Spooks, 16th Century style.)
Musicians were often spies: working at court, they could pass messages, travel without too much suspicion and overhear secrets. I Spie takes as a starting point an extraordinary letter Dowland wrote in 1595 to spymaster Sir Robert Cecil, in which it seems Dowland effectively foiled an Italian plot on the life of Elizabeth I! yes - really! Who knew?!
Directed by BBC TV's Nicholas Renton (BAFTA-nominated Mrs Gaskell's Wives and Daughters), the show is interactive, accessible and inclusive. We're booked to tour from 15-24 October in Stroud Green, Brighton, Wolverhampton, Liverpool, Grange-over-Sands and Hounslow.
We have some small grants for our tour, however we found out last week that our main bid to the Arts Council for £15,000 was rejected. We have always secured grants from them in the past, so this was a huge shock and blow to us. They are taking longer to decide grants now and so we don’t have time to reapply.
Over the past 400 years, there have been moments of real adversity: one of those was the build up to 1588 and the Spanish Armada. Sir Francis Walsingham had built up the Elizabethan Secret Service from scratch from his own purse. As the pressure of the Spanish threat escalated, Queen Elizabeth responded with a first major gift to the Secret Service of £3300 in 1587 - that’s £1.13 million in today’s money, according to the Bank of England inflation calculator
Right now, the arts are facing their own “Armada moment”. NOW is the real moment of challenge. Not 18 months or a year ago when Arts Council funding was stepped up and when donors were at their most generous.
The official line is: we are “back to normal” - whilst, in reality, we face huge challenges with rising costs, dwindling ticket income, inundated funders and donors who are exhausted by appeals.
We have some small grants for our tour, but a surprise rejection by the Arts Council is a real challenge.
But we are determined to go ahead. We have trimmed our budget by 5K. We have three other grants, are confident of a fourth about to come in, and have secured 8K from a generous group of donors who have stepped into the breach.
That still leaves us with a 4.5K hole.
So we are launching this crowdfunder to raise £3300 (the very same amount Elizabeth I gave to the Secret Service in 1587 - NOT the £1.1Million it is worth today!)
Time is of the essence. Rehearsals need to start in early October and we tour from 15-24 October - so we need to know we have raised the remaining funds by 20 September.
Finally, we have some good news is that The Telling just heard we are the only classical music charity to be selected as one of 13 English arts organisations on Arts Council/BBC The Space’s Digital Marketing Mentoring scheme: alongside Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures and Leeds City of Culture 2023! This will give us 3 months of advice on digital marketing the I, Spie tour.
Thank you so much for any help you can give at such a challenging time!