Less than three months ago, Jack Drum Arts was delighted to receive news that its application to Spirit of 2012’s Moments to Connect fund had been successful.

The project – Year of the King – aims to bring together our local community across generations and social divides to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III, specifically through the lenses of youth empowerment and environmental responsibility – two issues close to the heart of the new King and Jack Drum Arts.

We regularly deliver outdoor community events with and for our local community of Crook: an annual Winter Light Parade and summer events including our multiple award winning youth produced music festival B.O.P Fest.

Year of the King is a multi-phase project, using our skills and experience in the planning and delivery of outdoor events and co-creation with people of all ages.

  • Phase One saw people from across the local community taking part in intergenerational carnival arts workshops, making props, costumes, and puppets to be worn and carried in a parade, alongside music and dance workshops with young people. Collaborative workshops in music making and dance were programmed for residents of Bradbury House, our local day care centre and our regular retired participants.
  • Phase Two was the King’s Coronation parade, featuring the participants from the workshops showcasing their creations and rolling seamlessly into a King’s Coronation gala held at Crook Town Cricket Club which featuring live entertainment and a wide range of family activities and games.
  • Phase Three will see the formation of legacy groups, which will meet regularly for 6 months to create new artwork. This new body of work will be exhibited in the local area to coincide with King Charles’ birthday on 14th November.

Jack Drum Arts Kings Coronation Parade and Gala
Photo: Gray Walker


Production for Year of the King started immediately, with myself and fellow Director Helen Ward working tirelessly to secure partner organisations to host workshops. Our initial plan to work with local primary schools was quickly revised, with many being unable to participate due to the frequent school strikes, Year 6 SATS, and limited staffing.

We focused our attention to work with local community groups instead and scheduled workshops to take place throughout the Easter Holidays. Visual Artists Morwenna Catt and Jane Crawford worked with more than 100 people over the two weeks. Musician James Lane and dancer Alys North delivered the collaborative music and dance sessions at Bradbury House whilst our Future Leaders Sam Ward-Hardy, Dylan Swinney and Freya Dhiman delivered dance and drumming workshops with young people.

There was then several weeks of intense preparation for the parade and gala, as the production team finalised arrangements with partners, contractors, and performers, and mobilised a group of volunteers to help make the day run as smoothly as possible. This volunteering opportunity linked appropriately with The Big Help Out, a new national volunteering initiative that launched the same day.

We planned the parade and gala with good weather in mind. We held a Queen’s Jubilee Gala last June, in glorious sunshine, and were hopeful that the weather for the King’s Coronation events would be similar. Alas, it was not.

Jack Drum Arts Kings Coronation Parade and Gala
Photo: Gray Walker


The rain fell intermittently throughout the day but that did not stop us. Participants, young and old, from the workshops showed up to wear their creations – headdresses of King Charles Spaniels, listed buildings, Protesting Plants, royalty from centuries past, and Polo Ponies filled the parade. Members of our intergenerational carnival group Runaway Samba donned their drums and costumes and performed admirably in the wet conditions. And our giant Green King puppet looked resplendent in its vivid emerald green as the parade centrepiece, a beautiful batik cloak hand painted by our social prescribing group and guest artist Mel Roberts trailing behind it. The public came out in good numbers to watch the parade as it made its way through the town centre.

Once the parade arrived at the Cricket Club, the steadfast refusal to let the weather get the better of the schedule carried on. Wet weather contingency planning came into effect – outdoor activities continued for those who didn’t mind getting a bit wet, and some of the bands and street theatre acts we had booked were able to do perform inside the clubhouse. The gala ended with a performance on the main stage by Beyond Madness, a local Madness tribute band, and a group of hardcore fans of all ages gleefully dancing in the drizzle!

We saw many families across multiple generations attend the parade and gala, with many thanking us for the work Jack Drum Arts continues to do with and for the local community. People are often surprised to learn how many staff the company has.

It is testament to the dedication of our small but wonderful team, and the high value we place upon partnership working that events such as this are successful in such a small, rural town. Crook has a population of just over 10,000 and more than half of its wards are in the top 10-20% of the 2019 Index of Deprivation. It is vital to the community and the wider area that organisations such as ours continue to provide opportunity for cultural engagement. Without it, horizons are not broadened, shells remain occupied, and relationships are underdeveloped. The work we do creates community spirit, pride in ‘homegrown’ talent, and the simple, yet relentlessly positive opportunity for self-expression and peer-to-peer sharing.

We are looking forward to continuing the project, moving into Phase 3, and supporting our newly formed legacy groups to work across a wide range of artistic mediums to create a powerful exhibition that is geographically and socially relevant to the local community.

Further Information