Dorset landscape set for transformation in 2014

Inside Out Dorset is set to transform the landscape of the county in September 2014, with ten days of free outdoor theatre, performance, dance, circus and visual installations.

As winner of the 2012 Poole Tourism Award, the festival that brought internationally acclaimed Harmonic Fields to Portland, continues to go from strength to strength, with planning for 2014 well underway.

Since its launch in 2007, thousands of people have attended Inside Out Dorset. Activate Performing Arts, the non-profit organisation behind Inside Out Dorset, anticipates that the 2014 festival will draw in the same crowds.

Kate Wood, Executive Director for Activate Performing Arts said: “We are privileged to be able to bring high quality outdoor performances to Dorset.

“We have joined with the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership, which through its recent successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, has contributed £25,000 towards festival. It’s through support such as this that enables us to continue to deliver free art of this quality.”

Following an appeal from Activate Performing Arts, local, regional and nationally based artists submitted their proposals for the festival that included a wide range of creative performance and artwork. The performances are due to take place in the South Dorset Ridgeway Area, which spans between Dorchester and Weymouth.

Bill Gee, Co-artistic Director for Inside Out Performing Arts added: “We’ve had a fantastic response from artists proposing creative ideas to transform this unique landscape. Entries have included dance, outdoor performance, sound, music and live art. We will select up to eight projects and develop them over the coming year.”

For more information please visit or call 01305 260954.

Innovative pilot launched to discover dance talent

Activate Performing Arts (Activate) and Dorset County Youth Dance have launched a pilot dance opportunity with Portrait Youth Dance Company, giving aspiring young dancers the chance to join the next generation of leading dance professionals.

Dancers aged 14 to 21 years, who have the desire to develop their talent are invited to attend an opening evening at Weymouth College on September 25 at 5.30pm. Candidates will then be given the chance to sign up for an open audition on October 2.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn a range of dance styles, watch professional dance performances and develop a range of other creative skills such as choreography and production.

Libby Battaglia, dance producer for Activate, who has been instrumental in securing the partnership, said: “I’m so excited about the opportunities that being associated with Portrait will bring to new dancers. It really is a springboard to other adventures for those who truly love to dance.”

Recent prize-winning graduate from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Rachel Fullegar, who was a member of Portrait until 2009, said: “Working with Portrait gave me a great understanding about the role of dance within the arts and I was given access to the wider professional arts community in Dorset.”

Activate, the non-profit performing arts development agency behind the popular biennial Inside Out Dorset Festival aims to provide education through access to performing arts.

For more information please visit or call Libby Battaglia on 01305 260954.

New producer for Inside Out Dorset festival

Activate Performing Arts (Activate), the non-profit organisation behind the biennial Inside Out Dorset Festival, has recruited a new producer to manage the ten-day event.

Jen Walke joins Activate from London’s SPILL Festival of Performance where she was general manager. Jen said: “I’ve been watching this festival from afar in recent years and I have been eagerly waiting for an opportunity to get involved. I can’t wait to create such ambitious outdoor events with Inside Out.”

Kate Wood, Activate’s executive director commented: “Jen’s great experience will help us to produce a fantastic programme of work within Inside Out Dorset and we look forward to her joining us in October.”

The next Inside Out Dorset Festival is due to take place in September 2014, in outdoor locations across the county. It is a free festival which showcases outdoor theatre, dance and performance.

Activate produces, promotes and develops performing arts in Dorset with the belief that artists can affect and/or provide positive change in local communities. For more information visit

Dorset performing arts charity reaping benefits from 2012 Olympics

Harmonic Fields – Inside Out Dorset 2012/Activate – Stuart Morris

To mark the first anniversary of the 2012 Olympics, Dorchester charity Activate Performing Arts (Activate) has been looking back at the legacy surrounding the games, and what long term benefits it brought to performing arts across Dorset.
Activate was invited to showcase some of its outdoor performances as part of The Maritime Mix, the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad by the Sea, which ran alongside the sailing events in Weymouth and Portland.

It is estimated that 75,000 people witnessed the spectacular celebrations that included Harmonic Fields, a collective of 500 instruments played by the wind from a cliff-top in Portland. Activate was also involved the Torch Relay, and produced the overnight performance programme ‘Bournemouth Dances and Bournemouth Sings’.

One year on, Kate Wood, Executive Director for Activate has seen an increase in the numbers of artists wanting to work in Dorset, and more communities wanting to display similar style events in their counties. She said: “2012 was a phenomenal year for Activate and was helped tremendously by the Olympic celebrations. We were extremely proud to showcase some of the world’s best outdoor artists and Harmonic Fields in particular, was highlighted as an event that left lasting memories in people’s minds.”

Activate’s biennial festival, Inside Out Dorset, coincided with the Paralympics and its closing ceremony. Kate added: “Inside Out Dorset is always hugely popular, but we found that with the help of the Olympic celebration, performing arts reached audiences that may not have previously experienced the theatre or an art gallery and would never have thought they would enjoy a sound installation.”

Throughout the year, Activate has engaged with over 300 people through performing arts workshops, has seen audiences of over 18,000 at its events and continues successful partnerships with Winton Boys School in Bournemouth and Queen Elizabeth School in Wimborne.

Business and the Arts – Kate Wood, Executive Director for Activate Performing Arts

With a background in performance, tour management and third sector business development, Kate Wood, Executive Director for Activate Performing Arts (Activate), based in Dorchester, has established her place as a successful social entrepreneur.

Having previously studied theatre and english at Leeds University, Kate’s career took her from performer to European tour manager, followed by a period in social enterprise development.

Kate 41, from Beaminster, joined Activate in 2005, assisting its transition from Dorset Dance, which started in 1991. Activate combines dance and theatre with the mission to create positive changes to local communities across Dorset. Activate works closely with artists, venues, schools, social services and community groups supporting people of all ages and backgrounds to connect through performance.

Kate’s entrepreneurial nature and passion for the arts enabled her and the team to double Activate’s audience reach and its turnover in the last two years, all while juggling family life. She said: ‘It takes a lot of energy to make sure you are there for your family while running an organisation, but I find that if you believe in what you are doing, it’s worth putting in the extra time and effort. It is a real privilege to have the opportunity to work with exceptionally talented artists to make work that changes people’s lives.”

Kate’s most significant achievement to date is the success of Inside Out Dorset. The biennial festival which takes place in September 2014, showcases some of the world’s best outdoor artists in large scale performances at different outdoor sites across Dorset. In 2007, it was named the largest free festival of outdoor performance across South West England, and since then, it has reached over 85,000 visitors and won two Poole Tourism Awards.

The array of high-quality artists involved with Activate’s many projects including Inside Out Dorset, helped to place Dorset firmly on the map during the Cultural Olympiad, a series of cultural events which ran alongside the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games.

Reflecting on the success of Activate, Kate said: “The cultural legacy following the Olympics is exciting and it is a privilege to bring performing arts to thousands of people across Dorset. There has been an emergence of new theatre companies based locally and an enormous growth in youth dance and dance for health which is inspiring.”

Activate is an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation that receives regular funding and support. The organisation is also core funded by Dorset County Council, Borough of Poole and Bournemouth Borough Council.

The next Inside Out Dorset festival takes place from 11 to 21 September 2014. For further information please visit or call 01305 260954.

Activate's Kate Wood