Pre-covid time seems so distant and different now on reflection. Back in February, when I first met with the Renfrewshire Council Events team to discuss the role of creative producer for Sma’ Shot Day 2020, little did any of us consider that the all of the exciting plans and ideas for this year would have to be re-imagined so dramatically and suddenly. With the trauma and tragedy of recent months bringing a spotlight on the value of our NHS, key workers and carers, more than ever have we also relied on our creative communities for our mental and physical health. I feel honoured that I was given the opportunity to become part of the team that would enable Paisley’s important day of celebration to still take place, within the restrictions of the pandemic.
After taking some time to adjust to lockdown life as a team, we started to develop physically distanced ideas for Sma’ Shot Day and started to see the limitations as a positive challenge. We took time to reflect on the very roots of the day’s identity and came up with a vision for a festival that would focus on what Sma’ Shot means now. The significant moment in Paisley’s history, when the Weavers won their fight for fairer wages in 1856, has inspired an ongoing and passioned celebration of community, of workers and of coming together to stand up for injustice. Now feels like such a pivotal moment in history, when these things are so much at the forefront and art, as demonstrated by many of the contributors to this year’s Sma’ Shot Day, art is such a necessary and powerful voice in that.
For Sma’ Shot Day 2020, the aim was to provide a platform, funding and employment for artists and organisations working locally to deliver projects in the months leading up to Sma’ Shot Day. Their work could focus around any of the key themes;
- Celebrating key workers and carers.
- Connecting the Sma’ Shot Story to what’s happening now.
- Celebrating cultural and community activism – reflecting on accountability.
- Celebrating creativity and the power of art.
- Encouraging connection and inspiring hope.
Paisley’s rich cultural history has inspired a vibrant and evolving community of artists and organisations working locally today and Sma’ Shot Day was lucky to have some of them onboard as partners. These organisations and projects were;
- All or Nothing Aerial Dance Theatre: Connecting Threads & Connecting Threads Dance Along Live
- Create: CREATE Live Open Mic, A Sma’ Token, Paisley in Song
- PACE: This Is Our Day, The Sma’ Shot Story: A Radio Play, PACE Drama & Storytelling
- Brick Lane: Bang a Drum for Sma’ Shot!, Local Voices
- Renfrewshire Leisure (RL): Sma’ Shot Day Tea Dance, Sma’ Shot Sma’sh Hits & Art Boss – ‘This Is For The’
- The Bungalow: Co-programme selection for Sma’ Shot Sma’sh Hits with RL
- Unison: Remembering Scotland’s Auschwitz Heroine
- THCARS: Mill Girls and Thread Queens, The Machinery of Making and Paisley in Stitches
- Civil Disobedience: Creative Writing: Paisley Radicals
- Shaun Moore: Dooslan Staying Hame
- ReMode: Stop/Start, Window Art and Costume Making Tutorials
The organisations above all developed and delivered fantastic physically distant projects that provided creative opportunities for communities and/or provided employment and platforms for local artists. Sma’ Shot Day also teamed up with Paisley FM, who broadcast a selection of the programme for those not online. All of this fed into the overarching objective, which was to bring joy and hope to people in a crisis through art.
Engagement was a success and the response online was overwhelmingly positive. Provost Cameron commented on twitter ‘As far as ‘lockdown’ projects go, you simply cannot beat this year’s digital ingenuity!’ Another virtual attendee on Facebook expressed ‘Thanks to everyone involved l really enjoyed your program of events. Well done, you done Paisley proud‘ and this sentiment was echoed by many. It was very affirming and inspiring see people tuning in and enjoying the events we had all worked so hard on. When I recorded figures on the 15th July the online content had collectively received over 15192 views. Another impressive stat was that All or Nothing Aerial Dance Theatre had over 85 individual dance video submissions for their Connecting Threads film project, which invited any individuals or households who wanted to be part of a film to learn and create Sma’ Shot inspired choreography – the end results were the two fantastic films you can find the link to above.
What a privilege it has been working on Sma’ Shot Day this year. I believe that as a festival, it is a fantastic testament to the value of the arts, arts as activism, of participation, community, connectedness and creativity. I am so inspired by the people I’ve met and worked with on this and by the community I became part of. You are all doing amazing work.
THANK YOU to all involved, to all who supported and to everyone who has tuned in so far and helped make Sma’ Shot 2020 a special event to remember. I long for the day when we can all safely gather again; to celebrate, to use our collective voices and to experience live performing arts. Perhaps a more digital approach will compliment those live events too, it is now certainly something to carry forward as we look towards the future.
If you missed any of this year’s digital activities, the full programme will remain available to stream online at https://paisley.is/featured_event/sma-shot-day/.
Thank you for reading and wishing you well.
Although my freelance work with Renfrewshire Council has come to an end for now, please do feel free to get in touch here or by email.
Jade Adamson is a freelance producer and dance artist