Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
11:54 AM 5th February 2021

Local Farm Steps In To Support Leeds-based Theatre Company With Outdoor Performance Space

A recently-established Leeds-based theatre company have been lent a helping hand by a local farm in their efforts to keep working during the COVID crisis. Having had to abandon plans to work indoors at the city's Slung Low and Leeds Middle Floor venues and with Arts Council Funding contingent on producing some work in February,

Meanwood landscape - photo Carrieanne Vivianette
Meanwood landscape - photo Carrieanne Vivianette
Carrieanne Vivianette – director and producer at CVIVArts Theatre – sent a desperate plea for help in a tweet. When Adam Ogilvie, CEO of Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, sent a prompt reply offering the chance to look at the farm's outdoor spaces, Vivianette initially visualised her actors trying to work around the sheep and pigs.

In fact, the farm site, which has been an important fixture of Leeds life for the past four decades, is also home to many picturesque garden spaces, interesting architecture and even outdoor sculptures.

Vivianette had expected to have to visit a few potential locations, but when she saw what Meanwood Valley Urban Farm had to offer she was so impressed that she instantly made up her mind to work on their site.

She commented:
“I immediately knew that the wildlife, walkways, scattered sculptures and streams would make perfect backdrops to fit with our project themes of human desire and potential. It sometimes feels like lockdown stifles your creativity, so to have it so vividly reignited on visiting the farm was a good sign!”

Meanwood Valley Urban Farm will be known to many as a tourist attraction and as a hub for education and conservation work. In fact, they also work regularly with Leeds community groups on a variety of diverse projects covering areas from dance, to mental health, to healthy eating.

Meanwood landscape - photo Adam Ogilvie
Meanwood landscape - photo Adam Ogilvie
Ogilvie is always keen to talk to people about collaborating on new schemes and projects which can benefit the Leeds community, saying:
"I am really pleased that we have been able to help out CVIVArts and we would love other arts organisations to come and see how they might use our varied open spaces for rehearsal and performances.

"We are really keen for new audiences to discover Meanwood Farm and to reach individuals and communities who might otherwise not get the chance to experience the great outdoors here on the edge of the city".

In spite of the fact that COVID has had a serious impact on the performing arts sector, Vivianette is excited and optimistic about working at the farm to devise new theatre work and produce filmed performances for CVIVArts' What Are You Hungry For? project.

Embracing the challenges of working under the current restrictions, she is “eager to see if working with distance, in this environment, will contribute to the vocal and physical work of the performers' actions and reactions. Will it bring a confidence or a tension? It is all significant research, which is motivating.”

CVIVArts will be continuing to work with a small group of actors on their experimental What Are You Hungry For? theatre project throughout the coming months and will be delivering final public performances in August across various Leeds venues to be confirmed closer to the time.

Meanwood Valley Urban Farm are currently closed to the general public but are available to take bookings from arts and community organisations in need of outdoor space with facilities.

Article written by Duncan Evans

Visit the CVIVArts Theatre website and follow them on social media here:

Visit the Meanwood Valley Urban Farm website and follow then on social media here: