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Carole Pluckrose: Innovation and excitement

Merium Bhuiyan

Merium Bhuiyan

Merium is interested in research and enjoys conducting interviews because she has a passion for communication and arts as well as motivating young people to aim higher.
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My name is Carole Pluckrose and I am the Artistic Director and Board Member of the Boathouse Barking, where I work as both a curator and a decision-maker.

During the lockdown, our project involved putting together an online wellness festival which we co-curated with Soul Stretch Events that does similar work, such as Green Man Festival. The idea was to create a whole weekend of online events with local wellness teachers for local communities. Lots of people were doing solo Yoga from their living rooms, and so we created a whole festival tent in our studio, as our previous programme of activities couldn’t take place due to COVID-19. Therefore, we had to repurpose our activity and think creatively in order to meet our objectives. In isolation, we had to find new ways of using the studios and effectively delivering those activities. We found new mediums for broadcasting.

It was important to focus on physical and mental well-being, and to reach out to people in isolation. The virtual community was very important and we had to find new ways of doing the work. We did this by thinking creatively and being agile, by exploring and not being frozen.

We received the Rapid Response emergency fund and this allowed us to get up and running with our project. We had to think quickly enough to do things well. The fund was a brilliant initiative, as it cut through bureaucracy. We heard back in two weeks and it was a hell of a race but it was exciting!

 

We learnt a lot about resilience and grit. We haven’t experienced anything at this scale in our generation. So we explored this through the content of the weekend, from Yoga to Tai Chi and the Alexander technique as well as creative writing. Our team of local practitioners looked at all physical disciplines and ran therapeutic workshops. In addition to this, we had an art therapist deliver beautiful sessions and we sent out little packages with resources for attendees.

The Boathouse connected strongly with the New East Festival who also received funding and we did some cross-marketing with them. We got in touch with lots of local organisations to see whether people wanted to get involved. Cameron was tremendously helpful in connecting people up at B&D Giving. Through this, many have joined our mailing lists and we have also created Facebook groups for further local relationship building.

I think B&D Giving has done well, given that they also did not have masses of people and resources. Maybe round robin might have been helpful because I didn’t get to know all of the projects. It would have also been nice to have a newsletter.

 

We had to repurpose our activity and think creatively in order to meet our objectives. In isolation, we had to find new ways of using the studios and effectively delivering those activities. We found new mediums for broadcasting.

This is possibly some of the most creative work I have done. We have learned a lot of technical stuff while Zoom started running the world! We have had to make an enormous leap into learning online. Fundamentally, my background is in theatre and writing, and ours is a local project, but people have joined from Brazil and the United States. We also attracted people from Canada and South Africa, which wouldn’t have happened face-to -face.

If I had a platform, I would support a positive, forward-looking response and push that agenda. I know that in these times innovation will accelerate beyond anyone’s imagination. We’re at the foothills of this now, and all the issues that came up this summer have made us more focused on our core values, from love to nature.

The Black Lives Matter movement shifted our focus to one that is less materialistic. Our level of perception has changed forever, and this is a time for engagement.

 

So, my mission would be gathering people for a creative laboratory to push the boundaries and come up with new things. It is a “Yes, and” approach rather than a “No, but” one.

Although some people have been feeling a bit low and we need to find ways to get excited. That definitely did happen between March and September of this year where a higher level of creativity was present, and the challenge is to maintain this! Thank you.

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