Villages in Action (VIA), the organisation that has provided entertainment events for villages throughout Devon, has closed due to lack of funding.
In the past the organisation was funded by the Arts Council, County Councils and District Councils in the county, but gradually these organisations have ceased to support the project financially. West Devon has been one of the last District Councils to provide funds, but even they are also now finding it necessary to reduce their funding. In Brentor VIA events have included music, from jazz to folk and classical, comedy, dance, film, drama and much more. These events have been one of the high spots on the Village Hall calendar The last VIA event in Brentor was on Sunday 12th March 2017, when we hosted the Kit Holmes with Al Greenwood blues performance.
Villages in Action events in Brentor have been arranged through the Brentor Community Trust and excess ticket sales income has provided valuable income for this organisation over the years. This has enabled the Trust to arrange other events in the village and has even subsidised the cost of the Brentor News. The Trust will be meeting to discuss the implications of the closure of VIA. It will now be down to us as a village to organise similar entertainment events in the Village Hall in the future, but this will take considerable organisation and effort, as well as financial risk.
Unearth was organised by Villages in Action and generously supported by a Heritage Lottery Fund award of £58,000.
Unearth, a community exploration of local history through stories, music, images and happenings, is being run in eight Devon villages. It was led in our parish by the Brentor Living Archive Group, who provided stories from the history of our parish and community for the project.
Brentor’s contribution to this exciting rural heritage project culminated on 7th October with a superb multi-media performance sharing the stories and legends of Brentor’s past from pre-history to this century. A team from Villages in Action, including a playwright, two professional actors, a sculptor and a folk musician came together in our Village Hall to present the show.
The set, produced by sculptor Peter Margerum, provided the backdrop to the show and included back-projections of historic images of Brentor and a fantastic wooden tree sculpture. Lucy Bell, who wrote the script, wove the stories discovered into a series of letters and diary entries that presented the lives and loves of people who lived in the parish. Actors Charlie Coldfield and Kirsty Cox gave performances that really moved the audience – one audience member commented that “it made her proud to be living in Brentor”.
The well-known folk musician Jim Causley wrote a series of evocative original songs that celebrated Brentor’s history – who would have thought that there would ever be songs about Burn Lane and everything on sale in the village shop (when we had one)! His sense of humour and musical talent added so much to the evening.
What a shame that less than 50 people came to the performance! ANd only 30 or so from Brentor! Those of you who weren’t there missed a one-off evening that delighted, moved and excited, and yes, made us proud to live in Brentor!
The first Brentor event in the Unearth Project was an Archive Film Evening at the Village Hall on 29th June. About 50 people enjoyed seeing a number of short films relating to Brentor and the surrounding area, provided by the South West Film and Television Archive.
Dom Carnell has been organising VIA events in Brentor – tel 810425 to talk about ways of providing local live entertainment in the future.