Jackie Clementines and Molly Jo McAlpine

Arts Taunton pulls off virtual festival

When the country went into crisis with the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of festivals all over the UK postponed, the uncertainty too much. Not so for local charity Arts Taunton.

The charity based in Somerset had launched the TYCA  youth festival the previous year and had a five year plan, with funding to match.

“We could easily have done what others did, see an insurmountable barrier, move the money into next year and done nothing,“ said Arts Taunton spokesperson and festival director, Deborah Baddoo. “But, that was not an option for us, as shutdown became a reality we began opening the doors and inviting young people in through virtual channels.”

The charity launched a new TYCA festival website and started reaching out to their contacts around the area; other businesses that would be willing to help them make it happen. They launched competition challenges for the first four weeks, with cash prizes, to allow young people up to the age of 25 to explore their creativity and find ways to relate to their new environments. Themes included ‘living in a small space’ and ‘what does a mask mean to you?’

“It was a time to be brave. The world changed daily, and indeed continues to do so,“ said Deborah, “but now more than ever we knew the creative industries needed supporting and young people needed an outlet for all their emotions. Arts Taunton began creating a platform for the young people of Somerset to meet that need.”

In March 2020 TYCA announced two online workshops, one for visual arts delivered by Go Create and one giving young people a voice through the Spoken Word delivered by Clementines Live Arts. The latter of these attracted children from all over the world, such is the reach of social media, and one school used it to help children of key workers bond and talk about how they felt.

Dates were set in the programme with the hope of still holding a live performance in October, but it became apparent that this would simply be too risky an assumption and the decision to go fully virtual was taken late July.

At this point the charity reached out to Digital Taunton, a confederacy of companies bound by their common platforms. Avenues were explored and teased through until a solution became apparent. The charity decided to stage the whole of the festival in two days in October and to try to make it feel as close to a live festival experience as they could.

Reaching out to the various venues, Tacchi Morris Arts Centre in Taunton kindly offered their skills to host socially- distanced performances. TYCA now had lighting, sound, an auditorium and stage.

“At this point we realised that even if we couldn’t broadcast or perform live we could create the atmosphere!“

Young videographer and Digital Taunton member, Glen Wayman of Highwayman Films, himself only 24, offered his expertise and crew in making the filming happen.

Up to then, the charity still didn’t have a clear picture as to how to broadcast the festival. They needed to data capture certain information to satisfy sponsors that their faith and contributions had indeed lead to the desired outcome; that of showcasing young people’s talents during this crisis.

At this point, Ian McNiece, who had attended Taunton School as a boy, agreed to become involved. Ian, who has a string of major film and TV credits to his name and is currently appearing as Bert in the popular TV series Doc Martin, offered his services in helping to weave the performances together.

“At last we had the missing link. We could create two distinct days of entertainment, with a professional actor graciously giving his time to compere and be link man for the various performances.“

And where does it all stand today?

Glen will go to London to film Ian at his home; a great outcome for the young enthusiastic videographer.

In the meantime, BBC Radio Somerset have picked up on TYCA and the Spoken Word workshops and offered to broadcast the young people’s performances.

The show, a mixture of professionally recorded performances and home recordings will be broadcast on the 17th of September at 8 pm.

In the spirit of true inclusivity, the show will also go out via Facebook watch party and stream on the TYCA festival website simultaneously.

In just a few short weeks TYCA festival will go live, the result of many collaborations. Arts Taunton, through the festival, has given 10 performing artists and their companies work during a time when little was available, a platform for young people to learn and be creative, and demonstrated the power of collaboration.

Please do join them on the 17th of September for the Spoken Word UPwords and ONwords performance and again on October 23rd and 24th for the TYCA festival via their website: https://tycafestival.co.uk

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July2020 newsletter

Latest Newsletter!

Arts Taunton newsletter July 2020 Edition. Find out what has been going on throughout lock-down and what we have coming up

Popera House

Arts Taunton launches new initiative to boost local arts groups

Registered charity, Arts Taunton, has launched a programme offering grant funding to local arts groups keen to develop new projects.

Tyca logo

Tyca 2020 goes ahead!

We may all be in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic but nothing is going to stop Arts Taunton from delivering its youth festival, Tyca 2020 this year.

Tyca Evaluation report

TYCA Evaluation Report

Liz Hutchin

New Trustee for Arts Taunton

We are delighted to be joined by Liz Hutchin as a new Trustee of Arts Taunton.

Taunton centric

A new icon for Taunton


Arts Taunton Website

New Website to Inspire, Influence and Include!

Launching a new website is no mean undertaking. There has to be a real need for a charity to divert funds from charitable activities. We hope that when you visit the site you will see how it will help drive the charity and our many shared aspirations forward.

The projects we are currently working on are beginning to gain great momentum and it feels as if all the hard work of the past few years is beginning to come together in a really positive way. Our new website gives us the platform to share news with you, and more importantly, gives you somewhere to view possibilities as they arise, share your involvement and promote your association: a space where we can come together to build on the vision.

Exciting projects such as the newly branded Tyca Youth Festival offer collaborative opportunities and by joining forces we can create something very special for the people of our town.


The Youth Festival came about as a result of the research we undertook to inform the Cultural Strategy. The young people in our society told us loud and clear that they felt they had no platform of their own, something they could influence and take ownership of. This is a big message to take on board. Please visit the Tyca tab on the website and see how our community has responded to that wish.

We have a young Tyca Taskforce, made up of people of Taunton beneath the age of 26, who have been working with us since late 2018. And we have themed the new festival for 2019 ‘BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS’ – a fantastic aspiration and a nod to the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.If you are 25 or under a nd would like a say in what happens and how we get the word out, please email us at [email protected] or message us through our Facebook page. We will get right back to you!

Arts Map of Taunton

There is a new section on the site which has a map of creative activities and the contact details of the organisers. We have a lot of them listed now but I would wager that there are even more we are yet to discover. If you know of any not mentioned, please let us know and we will add them.

The site will continue to grow and develop as Arts Taunton does, and we hope to provide a vibrant platform to showcase progress on our shared aspiration, that of making Somerset’s County Town a vibrant, more attractive place in which to live, work and visit.

Pam Knight, 

Taunton Deane Business Awards

Creative Industries Award Winner 2019

Arts Taunton once again sponsored the Taunton Deane Business Awards Creative Industry Award this year. Our shortlist gave us three finalists: Rocket and Bird, Centre for Young Musicians Taunton and John Packer Musical Instruments.

Rachel Parvin of Centre for Young Musicians Taunton receiving the award from Jonathan Langdon, Trustee and Secretary of Arts Taunton

Rachel Parvin of Centre for Young Musicians Taunton receiving the award from Jonathan Langdon, Trustee and Secretary of Arts Taunton

These very different applications all had great merit, each bringing something unique to the Creative Industries. The winner of this award was chosen as they brought something very exceptional to our county town, making Taunton the only location in the UK which is not a city to boast such an inclusive and world-class arts facility.

Arts Taunton Trustee Jonathan Langdon handed the award to our worthy winner  – the  Centre for Young Musicians Taunton (CYMT).

Rachel Parvin, receiving the award on behalf of the Centre told us: “I am delighted CYMT won the Creative Industries category because it is such good news for the Centre and Guildhall School. I was so surprised but very grateful for the Centre to have the recognition it deserves and the award will go a long way to helping our development.”

CYMT is a division of Guildhall School of Music & Drama. It is open to all committed young musicians aged 5–18. Students can perform regularly in any musical style, and the centre supports all students with a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. There is a wide variety of ensembles and lessons available, and all classes are taught by a high-quality team of dedicated and enthusiastic tutors. The website is: www.cymtaunton.org.uk

Rachel added: “We are also pleased to announce that CYMT is partnering with Arts Taunton for the Tyca Festival. We think collaboration is exciting and is vital for the arts to blossom and thrive in our community.”

You can read more about the Tyca Festival here: www.artstaunton.co.uk/tyca