2020 In Review

a zoom video call shows over 20 people onscreen and they are all doing their makeup

2020. Wow. We did not see that coming. The start of the year seems like a hazy fog, where the idea of putting on a huge drag king cabaret for 350+ people is like some mad dream. But that’s what we were preparing for back then.

Despite all the nonsense, heartache and grieving this year has brought, here at Andro and Eve we have things to celebrate. And as relentless purveyors of queer joy, (because joy is resistance, to so many communities), we’re here to review the highs, and some challenges that 2020 has brought.

Silvana Imam, a slim, blonde haired rapper, kneels at the front of a stage rapping. She wears desert boots, shorts and white hoodie.
Swedish Rapper Silvana Imam

We started the year with a screening of music documentary, Silvana, at legendary music venue, Yellow Arch Studios in Sheffield. Collaborating with Sheffield Doc/Fest, was a first for us, with Melanie Ireldale the deputy director, introducing this celebration of the story of Swedish rapper Silvana Imam, her rise to fame and blossoming romance with Swedish pop star Beatrice Eli. Many in the audience fell hard for this lesbian power couple that evening.

5 drag kings are placed in a montage. There is Prinx Silver, a spanish, white king with a crown and moustache. Christian Adore, who has olive skin, long balck hair, and dinner jacket on, with a bare chest. To his right is Georgeous Michael, a George Michael lookalive wearing a silver jacket, and in the centre is Wesley Dykes. He is a Black king with purple hat and sharp suit on. Mo terboat is in the corner, playing a guitar with open mouth. Mo is a white bloke with hoodie on.
Clockwise from top left, Prinx Silver, Christian Adore, Georgeous Michael, Wesley Dykes, Mo Terboat.

In March, we had the 6th edition of The Kingdom Come planned at Abbeydale Picture House with a stellar line up of talent. Just a few days after we trained our amazing team of volunteers at the venue, the board of Andro and Eve discussed the situation, and made the unanimous decision to cancel our drag king cabaret, scheduled for the 21st.

Facing a significant financial loss, the next week was a blur, but our community came through, with 85% of those who had already booked tickets, donating their ticket, which bought us valuable time to plan for a very different year and apply for funding. Thank you to you if you were one of those kind people.

In May we found out we had been successful in securing Arts Council England Emergency Funding. And with that a bit of breathing space. Launching our drag king workshop course in June, we were bowled over for demand for places on the course, with 50+ people taking part in 3 sessions led by drag king Christian Adore in July. Have a peep at what that involved, and what our participants thought in the video below.

Developing talent is key to our work. Our 2020 programme included an online Cabaret College, which we produced in collaboration with LoUis CYfer. Over 8 weeks, 13 emerging drag and cabaret acts were given the opportunity to develop their own material with regular mentoring from LoUis, and 4 creative sessions. As one of the participants said

The whole experience was so safe and welcoming. I was VERY nervous and always felt supported and like I could ask for help

As well as developing talent we were also aware that digital delivery would limit the audience for our work, and wanted to use print to connect. So we commissioned graduate artist, and founder of Racezine Collective, Okocha Obasi to produce a brand new zine. Okocha was mentored by artist Seleena Laverne Daye, and worked closely with Assistant Producer, Emma Bentley – Fox.

The resulting zine, Centre, featured the voices of a whole range of Northern LGBTQ+ people, specially commissioned pieces by director and writer Rikki Beadle – Blair, activist and founder of the Black Trans Foundation, Azekel, as well as an interview with one of our friends from Lesbian Asylum Support Sheffield. The zine sold 50+ copies in its first month on sale, raising £105 for Yorkshire’s Racial Justice Network. 50% of all sales go towards RJN, and we still have copies on sale, so grab one before they’re all gone.

A bright yellow zine with the words Centre Zine, in bold, black lettering sits on top of a hot pink surface.

We launched Centre zine with a special online party, A Reyt Queer Night In. With a vogue workshop by Mother of House of Ghetto, Darren Pritchard, and a party makeup workshop by Christian Adore, the night was topped off with a brilliant set from Gal Pal’s DJ Xzan. The night certainly went down well with attendees..

The music was amazing, really good range covered. I liked being greeted on arrival, the friendly, multigenerational space and chance to put in requests

It sure beat our first attempt at an online party – a Netflix screening party of Clueless on March 28th! It was cute, but, not quite up to our usual standard..!

DJ Xzan at a Reyt Queer Night In

In November we launched a new range of merchandise including postcard sets, badges and tote bags in the Trans Pride Flag colours. Because trans rights matter and we’re here to celebrate trans lives. They look lovely on our newly redeveloped website.

Behind the scenes, we filed our first year accounts to Companies House (what a highlight!), and Artistic Director, Katherine developed a Gender Awareness Training session, aimed at staff in organisations and businesses of all sizes. Both Assistant Producer Emma, and Katherine, undertook anti racism training through Racial Justice Network, with Emma also taking part in Access and Audio Description training with Quiplash. This will inform the way we work in the months to come and is an important part of our mission to make our work accessible and inclusive to all. 

a slim, East Asian model with mid length black hair is wearing a purple jumper and holding a turquoise and pink andro and eve logo tote bag.
New Andro and Eve logo tote bags in the Trans Pride flag colours!

On that note, we’ve just launched a new Community Survey. We don‘t know what the future holds, but we want to make plans with our community as the focus. If you’ve been to one of our events or workshops before, or follow us online and have 5 -10 minutes to spare, please complete the survey here. You can win a bundle of Andro and Eve goodies too!

Another highlight for Andro and Eve in 2020 was being invited to join Queer Arts North – a network of queer arts and Northern performance venues, platforming and providing talent development opportunities for LGBTQ+ artists in the North of England. It was great to be part of an artist networking event as part of Homotopia Festival in November.

Artistic Director of Trans Creative, Kate ODonnell, and Artistic Director of Andro and Eve, Katherine Warman at Queer Arts North Artist Showcase in March 2020.

The events of 2020 made us even more determined to work towards equality for all, and support the Black lives matter movement. The fight for racial equality would be nowhere without Black feminists like Audre Lorde, Angela Davis and Olive Morris, and Black LGBT+ community pioneers including Marsha P Johnson, Storme DeLarverie and Miss Major. We continue to familiarise ourselves with our history, and participate in anti racism work. On that note, this year, we’ve platformed Stop the Scandal, a campaign to prevent the use of mobile fingerprint scanners, linked to the Home Office database, by the police. If you haven’t read it yet, check out the piece by the Stop the Scandal campaign here. 

At this point, please excuse some soppiness in expressing a wholehearted thanks to the two new members of the Andro and Eve board, Lola White and Ellie Wyer. Having only joined the board in February, they came through hard for Andro and Eve, and have supported the development of the organisation in this most difficult of years. A special mention must also go to Assistant Producer, Emma, who has gone the extra mile to help us produce and market all our creative projects and events in the last year.

We want to say a massive thank you to all the artists we worked with in 2020, for your dedication, creativity and hard work. Thank you also to the team of freelancers who help make our work look so bold and beautiful. And thanks so much to the volunteers who’ve helped out this year too.

Andro and Eve volunteers enjoying some pizza, post training, March 2020.

In a year filled with challenges, and so much division sowed between communities, COVID has shown how unequal UK society is. We know in a way, that Andro and Eve and our tiny team are some of the lucky ones, we’ve carried on, while other enterprises have simply not been given the same support, or opportunity. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to make art, and access to culture. So we’ve dug in and got through 2020, and in many ways grown. But we know there is so much work to be done, and it is only in collective effort that we stand to make an impact.

Thank you to everyone who has told a friend about us, bought a ticket, donated, shopped or shared what we do. Your support is the reason we’re still here.

With love and solidarity

Finn

Cancelled – The Kingdom Come 6

It is with deep sadness and heartbreak that we announce the cancellation of The Kingdom Come 6 which was due to take place on Saturday 21 March at Abbeydale Picture House. This event, which would have been our 21st event, is the first event we have cancelled in our 4-year history. We do this in response to the escalation of the coronavirus and its impact on our wider community.

As a queer-led social enterprise, which means we put people before profit, and care of the most vulnerable and marginalised at our heart, we felt we must take action on this matter. By cancelling this event we can potentially reduce the amount of people contracting coronavirus, limit the impact of the coronavirus on our already strained NHS, and reduce the impact on public health workers.

As a small organisation with a staff team of one person alongside our team of volunteers, we cannot in good conscience put the health of our team, our artists, or wider community at risk. The board of Andro & Eve have consulted with our team and with our contacts in the arts and business community. This collective decision is not one we have taken lightly, or without much heartache.

Much of that pain comes from the fact that we know what the Andro & Eve events mean to our community, as well as to our artists. We send our love and solidarity to those already affected by coronavirus.

Everyone who bought a ticket is of course entitled to a refund, but if you can afford to, we’d ask you to consider your ticket a donation to help support our vision to bring queer arts and culture to South Yorkshire. Cancelling this event puts our financial security as an organisation at risk.

We rely on our big events such as The Kingdom Come to financially support the running of the organisation the rest of the year. Also, we are well aware of the pressures on freelancers at this time, and this will help us ensure that we can reimburse our artists and crew for fees they will lose, and in recognition for all the hard work they have already put into this event.

If anyone would like to support us at this extremely challenging time, you can by heading to Tickets for Good and buying a ticket for The Kingdom Come, before the 21st March. You can also add a contribution to our Pay it Forward Ticket fund there too. Your donation will be used to ensure we come back stronger and better than ever at a later date.

All those who have bought a ticket for The Kingdom Come will receive a discount on tickets for our next event; we will send a discount code to the email you used to book with, on announcement of the next event. We very much appreciate the support and trust you have placed in us. Details on refunds will also be sent to the email used to book with on Tickets for Good. Alternatively, please email [email protected] for more information.

We wish to thank our partner venues, Abbeydale Picture House and Theatre Deli Sheffield for their support and guidance in this difficult time. Independent venues and businesses in Sheffield will be at real risk of closure as we move through this health crisis. If you can also donate money towards Theatre Deli Sheffield or Abbeydale Picture House, you can do so via these links.

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/abbeydalepicturehouse

https://www.gofundme.com/f/theatredelisheffieldheatingfund

Finally, over the coming days we will be sharing resources to support our community. If you have any questions or have seen any useful links or resources, we are happy to promote.

For now, Queercare have some excellent resources available including this Google Form if you are in need of extra support at this time.

With love and solidarity

Team Andro & Eve

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