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

Katherine

Staying Queer during COVID-19

We’re happy to announce that we have received Emergency Funding* from Arts Council England to help keep us going and provide a programme of online and remote activity over the next 6 months.

Since cancelling our last event in March owing to COVID-19, we’ve been working hard to adapt to the new climate. We’ve also been trying not to panic at the possibility that the sort of live events we create *may* not be safe to organise until 2021. Our future looked, at best, risky. For that reason we’ve reached out to queer artists in order to generate a programme of activity that will support and uplift our community through these challenging times.

This funding enables us to continue our talent development strand for emerging artists. This will compromise both online workshops for complete beginners led by drag king and musical improv expert, Christian Adore, and a more in depth ‘Cabaret College’ for acts wanting to push their skills and learn how to devise their own material. The latter will be led by actor, writer and drag star Lucy Jane Parkinson, aka Louis CyFer.

A suited drag king with long hair and moustache looks directly into the camera
Christian Adore will lead ‘Drag king workshops’ for beginners

Alongside the talent development, we realise there is a need to connect with and hear the voices of the wider LGBTQ+ community and queer artists. To do this we will be creating a special zine both as a documentation of this strange time and a way to connect that does not rely on digital technology. This project will be led on by Leeds -based artist Okocha Obasi in collaboration with emerging producer Emma Bentley – Fox.

The zine will feature the voices of queer writers and artists alongside work submitted by members of the community who want to share their thoughts / dreams / ideas. We’ll print and distribute and launch with a special online launch party featuring queer performers and DJ set for indoor dancing. Along with this programme the funding will help us redevelop our website, and support staff time to ready the organisation for next steps.

We’re very thankful that we can continue to provide unique opportunities to ‘come together’ through queer culture and look forward to connecting with you all again. We’re also aware, however, that there are many great people and organisations that did not get this funding. It is one of the reasons why we will continue to make our work as accessible as possible and centre those otherwise marginalised.

In the meantime, we have set up a donation form on our website. All donations directly support our work in supporting queer artists and our community. We don’t know when we’ll be able to physically be in the same space again, (though currently we have no plans for physical events until beyond October). Your support ensures that when we can return to physical events, we’ll be back better than ever before.

Want to be the first to find out more about the above projects and opportunities? Sign up to our newsletter now!

Team Andro & Eve x

** Funding received – £10,900.

A New Phase…

We are very excited to announce that less than a year since becoming a not for profit arts organisation, we have received funding from Arts Council England to support an exciting programme of work for Autumn 2019 – Spring 2020.

Our events continue to grow in scale and ambition, with the last, a drag king cabaret at Abbeydale Picture House, attracting an audience of 330 people. Building on this success we will produce another drag king cabaret, The Kingdom Come at Abbeydale Picture House in March 2020, along with another edition of queer party and performance series, A Reyt Queer Do at Theatre Deli Sheffield on the 30th November.

The programme will also provide both training and performance opportunities for emerging artists in the Yorkshire region, as well as showcasing some of the UK’s most exciting queer performance. We are also excited to announce a new collaboration with CAST in Doncaster, enabling us to bring our feel good events to Doncaster, with the first such event, A Reyt Queer Do, planned for 13th November and hosted by award winning Drag King Louis Cyfer.

This month also marks a new phase for the organisation, which was originally founded by Rhiannon Scutt and Katherine Warman in 2016 to address the lack of safe, inclusive spaces for the LGBTQ+ community to enjoy queer culture in Sheffield. Having worked together creating queer events over the last three years, Rhiannon is now stepping down as a director of the board, and Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Katherine Warman, supported by the board of directors, will lead the company. 

Rhiannon Scutt says ‘It has been a greatly fulfilling experience to nurture Andro & Eve from the seed of an idea and the tiny film night it started out as, to what it has become today. As lesbians in Sheffield, it was important to us that we offer an alternative, gentle night out, where the focus is fun and there is a sense of community. I’m proud to say I think we’ve achieved that time and time again. I wish Katherine and the team every success, and hope to support Andro & Eve events in the future as an attendee’

Natalie Diddams, Chair of the Andro and Eve board says, ‘we’re so grateful for the hard work and vital input Rhiannon has given to the organisation over the last three years. It’s been a pleasure working with Rhiannon and we wish her all the best with her future projects. We’re excited by the programme of work and confident that the plans we have, will help grow the community benefitting from our events to celebrate queer culture’.

We are also thrilled to announce a weekend of drag king performance workshops on the 9th – 10th November at Theatre Deli Sheffield. Participants will then have the opportunity to apply to perform at either CAST or Theatre Deli in one of the open mic slots showcasing new queer performance. The introduction of a Pay It Forward Ticket scheme in 2018 has enabled an increasing amount of audience members to attend events who may not otherwise have been able to access them, using donations from the public to support the scheme. The funding received will help support this provision of discounted and free tickets for those on lower incomes, as well as enhance accessibility for deaf and disabled audiences.

Katherine Warman comments, ‘It’s been an honour to work alongside Rhiannon the last three years and I’m so proud of what the team and we have achieved. The demand for our work is clear, with so many of our events in the last 18 months selling out in advance. I’m excited that this funding will help us work towards our vision to put South Yorkshire on the map for arts that explore LGBTQ+ lives, nurturing artists and the community we serve’.

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