Creative Coffees

As part of the 2020 Reading Fringe Digital, join us for some online creative action with our Creative Coffees – free sessions exploring creativity and culture.

Monday October 12th, 9.30am (BST) – Developing a new musical about Black British history

Join writer and composer Urielle Klein-Mekongo (Yvette, Bush Theatre, Royal Exchange Theatre) and award-winning director Miranda Cromwell (Rockets and Blue Lights, Royal Exchange Theatre, BBC Lockdown Theatre Festival; Death of a Salesman, Piccadilly Theatre, The Young Vic) in conversation about the process of developing this new musical for the stage. They will be joined by singer and theatre maker Simone Ibbett-Brown.

BLACK POWER DESK is set against a backdrop of 1970s Notting Hill. It is inspired by the true events of London’s Black Power movement, and uses an original score of rap, reggae, soul and R&B to deliver an energetic call to arms against the racial discrimination that persists today. The team would love to answer any questions about the process and discuss responsibility and representation in retelling Black British stories for the stage.

BLACK POWER DESK was originally commissioned by the Old Vic 12. The original creative team included co-composer Richard Melkonian, movement director Natasha Harrison and designer Anna Orton. If you’d like to learn more about the show, please contact the producer Steph J Weller on



Monday July 20th, 9.30am (BST) – Arts Council England Project Grants

After a brief closure of the fund in the immediate aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis, Arts Council England has announced that National Lottery Project Grants will reopen on 22nd July. Join Terry Adams, ACE Relationship Manager for Diversity, to discuss the grants in the light of updated guidance being produced for the relaunch.

There will be the opportunity for some questions at the end, but in order to maximise the session, we strongly encourage you to submit any questions for Terry in advance to

Reading Borough Council Cultural Development Officer Lara Stavrinou will also be available to discuss how she can support with applications and broker partnerships for people in the local area.

You can watch the recorded session at the Reading Fringe Festival event page

Monday July 13th, 9.30am (BST) – Creating a Digital Fringe Festival

Our next Creative Coffee comes days before Reading Fringe goes live with its first-ever digital festival. So we will be looking at the challenges and rewards of putting together online cultural events both now and in the future in Creating a Digital Fringe Festival.

Members of the Reading Fringe Digital team will discuss how they have gone about following last year’s Festival – the most successful yet with 5,000 attendees at venues across the town – with 10 days of online events including cabaret, film, music, photography, theatre and more.

They will also be joined by artists and producers talking about their experiences putting on shows during lockdown.

This event will be live captioned.

Monday June 29th, 9.30am (BST) – Ensuring Covid-19 culture is accessible for all, with Hannah Burgess of What Box?

Hannah Burgess from social enterprise What Box leads a discussion on accessibility in digital arts.

As COVID-19 changes the way we create and enjoy culture, how do we ensure digital art is accessible for our audiences? And as we return to physical spaces post-lockdown, how can we ensure inclusion is prioritised in recovery?

This session will highlight the incredible work of organisations through the pandemic, and consider what best practice will look like in creating accessible digital arts going forward.

Hannah is a neuro-divergent disabled project manager, from Reading. Hannah was previously the programmer at Slough Cultural Hub The Curve. Hannah began What Box? to create video visual guides for events and organisations in a bid to make more life experiences accessible for autistic and neurodivergent audiences.

This event will be live captioned.

Monday June 15th, 9.30am (BST) – Dance in a Time of Crisis, with Liz Allum of Dance Reading

Join Liz Allum of Dance Reading and dance professionals from across the region to talk all things dance in a time of crisis.

How has Covid-19 impacted on your dance practice or business? What positives, new ways of working, thinking, connecting have emerged? How can we build resilience in the sector? What tips, support, ideas can you share? how do we get back in the studio? How do we run socially distanced dance classes? What’s coming next for the dance sector?

Help us discuss and answer some of the practical questions we are all facing, and think bigger to how we use dance as a tool to help our communities recover.

Dance Reading is a development organisation, supporting and enhancing the dance landscape in Reading and the surrounding area. We are passionate about creating a thriving and diverse dance landscape in our town. We bring high quality professional performances to wide reaching audiences. We work with young, emerging and professional artists, providing advice, support and developmental opportunities. We deliver a month-long festival of dance every November, celebrating exciting and innovative dance locally and nationally.

Monday June 1st, 9.30am (BST) – Creativity and Mental Health, with Mary Genis of Culture Mix (Reading)

Entrepreneur and performance artist Mary Genis will lead a discussion on why the arts are so important to our human sanity.

Please note we will be streaming this event to our Facebook page via Facebook Live. If you do not wish to appear on the Facebook Live feed then please join with your camera turned off.

(Photocredit: West & East Berkshire Camera Club)

Monday May 18th, 9.30am (BST) – The Importance of Play, with jelly (Reading)

Now more than ever play in all forms is essential – we need to learn how to play again. Join Kate Powell and Suzanne Stallard of Reading based award-winning arts charity Jelly to discuss the importance of rediscovering the joy of play in these challenging times.

Please note we will be streaming this event to our Facebook page via Facebook Live. If you do not wish to appear on the Facebook Live feed then please join with your camera turned off.

Monday May 4th, 9.30am (BST) – Rebuilding a New Normal, with Fiona Leonard (Düsseldorf)

In this second Creative Coffee morning, Fiona Leonard (Blue Goat Theatre) will talk about why grass roots collaboration is critical for rebuilding a new normal in a post-pandemic world, the questions we need to be asking about leveraging digital platforms and how to find a vampire hunter in Prague. Fiona started the 24 Hour Festival online as a response to the impact of COVID-19 on global artists and to challenge the notion of social distancing.

Monday April 20th, 9.30am (BST) – Empowering Creatives, with Helen Hopcraft (Australia)

Join Creative Coffee concept founder Helen Hopcroft (My Year as a Fairy Tale) as she leads the discussion on the importance of empowering creatives. In 2017, Helen spent the year dressed as Marie Antoinette – 24/7!