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03.09 - 05.09.21

Making An Entrance: Summer Summit


Milk Presents a weekend long summer camp-style for early career queer artists, an opportunity for a wide group of UK, early career artists to develop intensive and specialised skills.

After postponing for a year due to the pandemic, Milk Presents held their first in-person Summer Summit at The HopBarn at the beginning of September. Milk Presents are an acclaimed performance company that support emerging LGBTQIA+ artists. The weekend-long summer retreat at The HopBarn was for performers within the first five years of their practice and saw 10 LGBTQIA+ artists join Milk Presents’ meeting of minds in the middle of the Midlands for a festival-styled weekender where they could master new skills and build their queer family.


The Summer Summit Participants were selected to represent a diversity of artforms and geographical locations and all demonstrated a need for support in the development of their creative practice. The selected participants came from a variety of backgrounds in writing, performing, directing, producing and production and from artforms including theatre, cabaret, dance, drag and performance, digital and even visual art. Participants who were of the global majority, disabled, deaf, neurodivergent and/or socio-economically challenged were also prioritised for places. 


Participants travelled from all over the country on subsidised transport. They arrived on the Friday to set up camp and got to know each other over dinner and through a number of ice-breaker activities in the evening. Participants started off each day with a buffet breakfast and warm up exercises with Milk Presents’ Young Associate Prime Isaac. On the Saturday and Sunday, the participants attended a number of workshops including a writing workshop with Milk Presents’ Artistic Director Leo Skilbeck and a theatre devising workshop where Leo was joined by Milk Presents’ Associate Director Jo Tyabji.


The group were also joined by two guest artists on zoom who spoke to the group about breaking into the arts industry, including the Artistic Director and CEO of new writing company HighTide Theatre, Suba Das, and the award-winning playwright, lyricist and theatre-maker Chris Bush. The group also attended workshops on the technical aspects of creating a performance with Milk Presents’ Production Manager Adam Robertson and how to produce and promote their own work with Milk Presents’ Producing Assistant Lee Smith. 


The group shared meals with each other, had a movie night in the studio and went on a group expedition around The HopBarn’s current Living Landscape Art Trail around the farmstead.


The group had a brilliant time at The HopBarn which provided a great setting for Summer Summit. One participant said, “It was amazing and I’ll never forget it.” After an overcast and slightly chilly start, the sun came out and the weekend very much lived up to its name. The group all departed on the Sunday, sharing fond farewells with each other. They all plan to stay in touch and are already making plans to meet up and support each other’s projects.


It's not often that LGBTQIA+ artists get the opportunity to celebrate and embrace their identity in rural residency settings like this, and The Hopbarn really helped make everyone feel welcome and at home. Having a partnership with a venue like The Hopbarn is invaluable. Milk Presents can’t thank The HopBarn enough for having them and they hope they can return to this special venue to support even more LGBTQIA+ artists and projects in the future.


Summer Summit was supported by Jerwood Arts Development Fund and delivered in partnership with The HopBarn Centre for Music and Creative Performance.

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