People on a Newcastle estate will be able to enjoy live music without leaving their homes thanks to a special programme.
While the theatre remains closed, Northern Stage is taking the show on the road this summer with a pop-up music programme for residents in Byker.
Musicians will play live while residents are encouraged to come out onto their doorsteps to listen and sing along, in line with social distancing rules.
Northern Stage has a long-term commitment to working in Byker. The company’s main rehearsal space is next to Byker Primary School and Northern Stage plays a lead role in the Byker Children and Young People’s Partnership (BCYPP).
During lockdown, the team adapted to meet the changing needs of residents - delivering food parcels and activity packs, and regularly speaking to isolated members of the community.
Louie Ingham, Northern Stage associate director, said: “We've been working in Byker for two and a half years now, making great creative things happen with our community.
"Lockdown has given us an opportunity to get to know even more local residents in new ways, and we have continued to find out what people need and how they’re feeling, so it's been really exciting to co-create Doorstep Music together.
"A lot of the people we’ve chatted to don’t have access to digital content - they don’t have data on their phone or wifi at home - so it was important to do something live.
"We've also talked to residents and the Byker Community Trust about how we can make the show accessible, where to set up in different locations around the estate to make sure everyone can see and hear from their own homes."
Louie and the team have been taking song requests on their delivery rounds to compile a ‘people’s playlist’ so residents can enjoy some of their favourite tunes from their gardens, doorsteps and balconies.
Songs will be played live by musicians Hannabiell Sanders, Jeremy Bradfield and Lindsay Hannon, with British Sign Language interpretation by Caroline Ryan.
Louie added: "We hope that Doorstep Music will bring people together, even though we have to be two metres apart. It’s a way of connecting people through excellent live music and art, to entertain and bring a bit of joy to the neighbourhood while making sure the musicians, our staff and residents stay safe."
This scheme has been made possible through funding from Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, and Well Newcastle Gateshead.
Ms McGuinness said: "As soon as I heard about this idea it excited me. It’s a really open, accessible project designed for the good of the community, bringing everyone together.
"It's about building a sense of pride for local people within their neighbourhood, helping everyone feel safer.
"It's a real stand-out project for me, with really fantastic performances designed to inspire, and it fits in perfectly with my plans around improving lives and preventing crime. I'm confident it’s going to be a real hit with the people of Byker."
And Northern Stage associate director Mark Calvert added: “It’s been an incredibly strange time for all us during the last four months and this project couldn’t have come along soon enough for both the Byker community and our freelance community.
"It's so important for our industry and our region that we find ways to unite by creating things together. This project is hopefully the first in a series of projects that supports our independent artists and makers in the North East while also bringing some happiness to this brilliant Byker community.
"It's so exciting that after 17 weeks of lockdown, in which we’ve all been isolated, this project allows music to bring us all back together – socially distanced obviously."