Blog Post

Food for Thought


Nic Allen tells us about her experience of being part of Appetite's Supper Club and her recent trips to cultural events in the UK

The Magic Flute by Royal Opera House performed at Appetite’s Big Feast Festival 2017. Photo: Clara Lou Photography

The Appetite Supper Club is a group of local community members from across Stoke-on-Trent who come together over supper once a month to discuss, plan and develop Appetite’s programme of events for the city. New member Nic Allen tells us more...

I really enjoy volunteering for Appetite, it has given me a plethora of experiences and opportunities to see and be involved with so many things. I started as an Appetite Events Volunteer after stumbling across Walk the Plank’s Fire Garden in Hanley Park three years ago and I have recently become a member of the Appetite Supper Club.

As part of this I am helping people become more aware and engaged in art and culture by assisting with the choices of what those experiences will be. This involvement includes everything from brochure design and signage to timetables and promotion - all of which are continuously improving and evolving.

As part of the Supper Club, we are given opportunities to travel to cultural events in other parts of the UK to see what they have to offer and the artists they have performing. These are great days out, we get travel and our ‘appetites’ are covered, both culturally and also with lunch! Afterwards we come together at the Supper Club and provide our ‘takeaway’ of what we have seen and what we think will work in Stoke-on-Trent. We are encouraged to present our own interpretation and recommendations of the acts and how those events were ran, what worked and what didn’t so we may learn and help improve next year’s Big Feast.

This year I had the opportunity to attend two events: Birmingham Weekender and Derby Feste. We went to Birmingham Weekender in quite a large group and it was interesting to see different perspectives on the acts. The Rangeeli - Colours of Birmingham Parade was a good example as it was broken down into 15 minute sections. Not everyone in the group knew this was the format however so they didn’t see the whole parade and missed out on some great costumes and different cultural representations. I also saw Peregrinus, by Polish company KTO Theatre, which left the crowd mesmerised. It is a fast paced performance of a day in the life of a group of office workers, who moved through the streets with humour, sadness and a little bit of naughtiness thrown in too.

I’m recommending them and fingers crossed I have whet the appetite of the Supper Club to have them romping around Hanley next year. The Weekender also brought the Birmingham Royal Ballet to the Bullring and the Multi-Story Orchestra to a carpark! In the evening a very interesting project was The Influence Machine which brought an illuminating light display to St Peter’s Cathedral with images projected onto the building and bringing the trees to life.

Derby Feste brought an evening at the Bass Recreational Ground and turned it into the ‘World of Circus’. The Gorilla Circus presented Altitude which provided a spectacular ending to a thoroughly exciting evening. The next day was packed full of different performances and it was great to see a work-in-progress Roots by Highly Sprung Performance Company. They had a different performance at The Big Feast earlier this year - Urban Astronaut, which was fantastic. It will be interesting to see how the new performance progresses. Other shows I have recommended are Circus Katoen whose performance of Ex Aequo tells the story of a young couple setting up house together and the battle over a place for the potted plant, and Cie Artonik which created The Colour of Time procession through the streets of Derby.

All in all, I am thoroughly enjoying volunteering for Appetite’s Supper Club as I gain valuable experience and get to go to events and see things I would otherwise not have the chance to do. I am also very pleased to be part of an organisation which is bringing art and culture back to life in my home county and that was actively part of the bid for the UK City of Culture 2021, reminding us all how much we do have to offer.

Nic Allen
Supper Club member, Appetite