Sheree Vickers, artistic director
Sheree works for Savvy Theatre Company, actively promoting inclusion and diversity in the arts and creating community-based theatre projects that can involve everyone. To recognise her work, Sheree was jointly awarded the 2017 Creative Choices Award.
Savvy Theatre Company’s ethos is ‘Creating Community Through Change’ and Sheree lives and breathes it!
She strives to create opportunities for adults with learning difficulties, young people at-risk and adults from marginalised backgrounds, including refugees.
Creating a diverse environment
Throughout 2016, Sheree has been working with adults who have learning difficulties and a passion for a certain aspect of the arts.
One such example is her work with Dan. Dan has Down's syndrome and wanted to learn more about becoming a lighting designer.
There are no other creative companies locally, working in such a diverse way
Sheree provided him with professional experience, having him work with the organisation's young company on shows for the National Theatre's Connections Festival.
Sheree also raised money to employ a specialist lighting designer who worked with Dan, explaining the importance of different lighting effects and taking him step-by-step through programming a lighting desk.
Now, three years later, he has been working as a lighting operator, independently running the lighting desk, on shows produced by Sheree for SAVVY Theatre Company.
For all of Dan’s work experience, Sheree sat in on the sessions, ensuring Dan felt comfortable and that his questions were getting answered. She also wrote an accessible handbook for him.
Sheree’s colleague Samia Tossio, who nominated Sheree said: “Sheree goes above and beyond when it comes to developing new (and local) talent.”
Working with the local community
Every year, Sheree and the company bring together all of the local groups and community partners for a Christmas show.
It is produced and performed by young people at-risk, adults with learning difficulties and adults from marginalised communities.
The most recent play was directed by the company’s newly appointed Associate Director, Alice who also came from the local community and was helped by Sheree.
Sheree goes above and beyond when it comes to developing new (and local) talent
Alice left college during her first year and started volunteering with SAVVY Theatre. That was six years ago, and since then Sheree has trained her and provided opportunities for her development.
The company also brings the community together through other community-based theatre projects, workshops and also partnerships with local and regional organisations.
They also do work with students at a local school for excluded and at-risk pupils.
Sheree’s most recent venture with the company has been trying to save the local theatre and turn it into a community arts hub (the process is still ongoing)!
Winning the Creative Choices Award
Samia said on nominating Sheree: “Her heart and passion is in the community and she is known and respected locally. She works tirelessly to campaign and champion the arts and my application will be supported whole heartedly by the head of the local council and the local MP!”
The judging panel chose Sheree as the winner because they felt that: “There are no other creative companies locally, working in such a diverse way. Sheree is setting a benchmark and leading the way when it comes to best practise both creatively and inclusively.”
Sheree said on being awarded: "I am truly delighted to have been given this award. It can often feel like you're working in isolation, but the event was quite special in bringing people from all over the UK together, showing that we are all fighting the same battles and sharing the same passions."
If you’d like to know more about Sheree’s work, visit the Savvy Theatre Company website.