First Art announce first-rate line-up for Go the Distance’s online programme

Exquisite puppets, music dedications to loved ones, nature-inspired animated projections, a good dose of tomfoolery, and a cheeky game of bingo will all feature in the new Remote Access programme as part of First Art’s Go the Distance Festival.

Throughout late May and June, Uninvited Guests and Fuel, Urban Projections, Half a String, Wild N Beets and Tit for Tat will present their works via the Internet, with a focus on audiences in Mansfield, Ashfield, Bolsover and North East Derbyshire.

“We had a fantastic response to our call out for artists with all sorts of wonderful projects proposed. The successful five projects offer a top quality selection of entertainment for all ages, ranging from circus to puppetry, all inspired by the strange times we are currently living in,” commented Karl Greenwood, First Art Director.

Artists and arts organisations were invited by First Art to apply for up to £3,500 to create projects that encourage people to engage with arts and culture online.

First Art, a Creative People and Places project funded by Arts Council England, works to bring inspirational cultural experiences within reach of everyone living in Ashfield, Bolsover, Mansfield and North East Derbyshire, as well as helping local people to produce and shape their own cultural experiences and events.

The programme will open with Urban Projection’s Dawn Chorus which sees local artist Rebecca Smith collaborate with illustrator Fabric Lenny to create a playful video-short featuring animated birds and illustrations projected in a Mansfield woodland. The work is inspired by what nature means to people during these unparalleled times and how many are seeking comfort in nature.

There will also be an accessible making activity, complimenting the Dawn Chorus video-short that is created.

Family audiences will be invited to watch and take part in E-Books! by Tit for Tat and Breathe by Half a String.

Circus and buffoonery are order of the day in Tit for Tat’s new digital series E-books!. Mixing their penchant for fiasco and mayhem, Rupert and the team share their love for stories in the most ridiculous ways possible, parodying social extremes, current affairs and, most notably, themselves.

Breathe is a three-part mini-series from award-winning puppet company Half a String, using their brand of stunning intricate puppetry and atmospheric live music. The series follows the adventure of a young seedling tree puppet, lured to leave the forest by a strangely empty world.

The journey will play out over an episode-a-day during “Breathe Weekend” and there will be a hands-on workshop for people to create their very own “table-top” tree puppet, together with a short masterclass on how to use it.

For older audiences Fuel and Uninvited Guests present Love Letters at Home and Wild N Beets bring a bit their cheeky social club antics straight to your front room with their lockdown take on one of our favourite games with Isolation Bingo.

Love Letters at Home is a joyful, open-hearted show that will help people feel connected at a time when many are isolated and missing their loved ones. Somewhere between a wedding reception and a radio dedication show, before the performance, audience members are invited to send in music requests, dedications and declarations of love to those they care about past and present. These words are incorporated into each performance; dedications are spoken, toasts are made, speeches are given, songs are sung and dances danced. Every performance of Love Letters at Home is unique and collaboratively authored with its audience, who temporarily become a close community for the duration of the event.

Isolation Bingo is a chipper and cheeky online reinvention of bingo with ball machines made from toilet rolls, pasta shells and scrabble tiles. A chance to have a good old fashioned chin wag and a giggle, the game is hosted by characters Beryl and Cyril, who some may have seen at The Full Shebang in Mansfield last year, playing their outdoor Bingo Lingo. Inspired by their own isolation, Beryl and Cyril have created lockdown inspired Bingo calls such as ‘Keep those Hands Clean, number 13’, made the prizes and have even tidied their lounges.

Isolation Bingo will include British Sign Language, captions and in character audio description.

More information about the line-up with dates and times for all shows, together with any required bookings will be published on First Art’s website ( in the coming weeks. Details will also be made available on social media. All events will be free but some activities may have a Pay What You Decide option.

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