An 18-month celebration of communities across Cornwall, culture and history of outdoor performance is among the latest projects to be supported by Cornwall Council’s Good Growth Programme. 

The 18-month project, called We Are Shining, is led by Cornwall-based Wildworks, the UK’s leading landscape theatre company. 

We Are Shining will involve more than 70,000 people from the length and breadth of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly. Every state secondary school in Cornwall has the opportunity to take part, culminating in a series of pop-up events with selected schools in spring and summer 2024. 

The project’s finale will be a free, large-scale, multi-day Wildworks event across Cornwall, bringing communities and visitors together. 

As well as the involvement of local communities, the project is a major boost to Cornwall’s creative sector. It will create employment for the equivalent of 20 full time staff and over 100 people will receive training in new skills to produce more year-round outdoor theatre events in the future. 

We Are Shining is inspired by the journey of Pytheas, the Greek explorer who was the first to circumnavigate and document the British Isles in 320BC. His tale includes the stories of Belerion, ‘The Shining Land’, which is now known as Cornwall. 

The story will encourage people to think differently about Cornwall and Isles of Scilly’s past, present and future. With fantastic imagery, story, song and immersive experiences, the project will express what Cornwall means to its diverse communities. 

A small band of 30 Cornwall-based artists has already been recruited to work with local communities to explore how they would describe Cornwall, its history, myths and character to a stranger arriving on our shores today. 

The £995,000 investment from Cornwall Council’s Good Growth Programme is funded by the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund. Wildworks is one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations (NPO) and will receive over £600,000 of public funding throughout 2023–26, made possible by National Lottery players.

Cllr Louis Gardner, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for economy, said: “Culture and the creative industries are a key part of Cornwall’s economic development strategy. This sector has the power to bring together community engagement, innovation and skills development, and no-one does this better than Wildworks.

“We are very proud that such pioneers in landscape theatre are part of Cornwall’s cultural eco-system. Whether it’s cutting edge immersive experiences or telling the stories of marginalised communities, Wildworks bring together the stories of our people and places. This project will be delivered across Cornwall and encourage people to think differently about the past and the future. It’s important that everyone has the opportunity to get involved with the best of art and culture, whatever their background and wherever they live, and that’s why Good Growth is investing in cultural events and talent development.” 

Wildworks’ chief executive Emma Hogg said: “We are delighted to have been awarded Shared Prosperity Funding to deliver ‘We are Shining’. This project will be for Cornwall, about Cornwall, and made with Cornwall. We want to capture a snapshot of what Cornwall truly is in this moment; the beauty and the reality. 

“We are excited to start this autumn with our first RE:WILD training programme and embark on our community engagement programme, ‘Hello Stranger’ with a wide range of Cornish creatives, schools and other community partners.” 

And Phil Gibby, area director, Arts Council England, South West, added: “We are proud to support Wildworks through our NPO programme and it’s great news to hear about this major investment from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. This will support Wildworks to take their creative ambitions to another level, whilst creating training and employment opportunities that will further strengthen the region’s freelance creative workforce. 

“At the Arts Council, we want to ensure that every one can access high quality art and culture right on their doorsteps, and the proposed programme of performances and community engagement made possible by UK Shared Prosperity funding will certainly help achieve this. We look forward to seeing the positive impacts it will bring.” 

Wildworks is working with a wide range of communities and partners to bring ‘We Are Shining’ to audiences and communities across Cornwall. This includes the National Trust, Black Voices Cornwall, Cornwall Pride, Shallal and fellow theatre organisations Hall for Cornwall and Theatre Royal Plymouth. 

Hello Stranger activity will begin in schools and communities from December 2023, building to a showcase of small events across Cornwall and culminating with the arrival of Xenos (The Stranger) in the autumn of 2024. To keep up to date with information as it develops sign up to Wildworks newsletters via their website or follow the link to ‘get involved’.