ARCADE interview: Scarborough as “A Beacon for Creatives”

Ahead of January’s live session from Ellie Robinson, in this Sunday Harvest Claire discusses all things Scarborough with ARCADE co-founder, Rach Drew.

They explore the power of the seaside, ARCADE as a vehicle for Northern female empowerment and the overarching uniqueness which fosters creativity within the borough.

Here at Bloom Sessions, we wanted to spend an entire month focusing on a specific area in North Yorkshire and here we are… in Scarborough! (remotely of course)

Even from the reception to our open call, we knew the East Coast was a hotbed for creativity – a sentiment echoed by ARCADE co-founder, Rach Drew. A community producing company based in the borough, ARCADE is led by Rach and Sophie Drury-Bradey.

Within moments, we’re talking about the unique atmosphere in Scarborough and Rach paints a picture of the town as “a beacon for artists” inspired by the vistas, the changeability of the ocean, the heritage and diverse experiences.

The story of ARCADE and the attitude they work towards has immediate similarities to Bloom Sessions – particularly that of encouraging the underrepresented, or the often maligned. On the origins of the Scarborough-based company, Rach says, “I often find that I don’t hear Yorkshire accents in decision making rooms, or in rooms where creative conversations are happening.” She talks of the importance of providing meaningful local opportunities for all backgrounds and all lived experiences.

The 2020 project, Northern Girls, produced by Pilot Theatre in association with ARCADE is a specific example of this empowerment. Born out of a notable lack of true representation, it aimed to dispel stereotypes by allowing local writers to represent their vision of a Northern girl with mentoring from multi-slam winning spoken word artist, Hannah Davies. Looking through their interviews, words like ‘strong’ ‘unique’ or ‘proud’ replace often derogatory labels such as ‘drunk’ ‘stupid’ or ‘grumpy’. Speaking on the project, Rach recalls the safe atmosphere created, “It was a supportive room and I think they felt like being a Northern girl connected them immediately, we’ve got this shared experience.”

From our Open Call and chatting to Rach, Scarborough reveals itself as remarkably diverse and charmingly quirky. This culture is something ARCADE want to celebrate, encouraging ownership and pride:

“There is culture in people’s everyday lives: the food we eat, the games we play, like in Scarborough, with skipping day, something that you don’t have anywhere else, or the boat battles at Peasholm Park which are so uniquely Scarborough. That is our culture and it’s super important, we’re really keen that people feel proud of that and want to celebrate it with others.”

Fostering community is at the heart of what they do and Scarborough Creatives is just another example of this. Coordinated by ARCADE and Stephen Joseph Theatre, with support from COAST and Arts Council England, Scarborough Creatives is a network in which creatives from all media, platforms and backgrounds can gather and support one another. Hosting discussions and talks from notable speakers as well as promoting opportunities – it’s inclusive and inspirational. If you live in or around the borough, why not check it out on Facebook.

Looking forward, Rach speaks excitedly on up-and-coming projects: for example, continuing to work with young people, on the connection between mental health and music as well as a project focused on beatboxing (sign me up!)          

Whatever 2021 brings for ARCADE, you can be sure they’ll continue encouraging creativity and providing inclusive opportunities for the East Coast.

A big thank you to the ARCADE team for being so welcoming, and specifically to Rach for taking the time to speak to us. If you haven’t already, why not give them a follow on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

We’ll see you next weekend for Ellie’s live session – you won’t want to miss it!

Feature photo credit: Stewart Baxter

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