“They spoke to lots of customers’ and we loved what they did. The residency was a great project that helped to lift peoples’ spirits in the village during lockdowns.”
Kent publicans sing praises of INN CROWD residency
Traditional village pub The White Lion in Selling, Kent, www.whitelionselling.co.uk, is one of the eight venues that INN CROWD partnered with, in association with Applause Rural Touring, on an innovative INN CROWD residency during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
The residencies were a project created by INN CROWD to help support artists and pubs during the pandemic, with artists becoming remote writers in residence at a selection of INN CROWD venues.
Publicans Karen Johnson and David Thompson, who have run this Shepherd Neame tenancy since 2017, worked with writer/facilitator Stacey Sampson and designer Bethany on an exciting residency project called ‘It’s Your Round’ Stacey Sampson and Bethany Wells: It’s Your Round – Inn Crowd
For this exciting residency Stacey and Bethany, researched the traditions and stories of the White Lion’s local community to create the lyrics of a new song for the community, which could be sung and enjoyed by locals on occasions such as Christmas Carols.
The wonderful lyrics, created by Stacey, are set to the tune of ‘The Wild Rover, with a mirror featuring the words, that now hangs on one of the pub’s walls and illustrated tea-towels with the lyrics on(to distribute to locals), designed by Bethany.
Among the lovely lyrics included in the song are: “Some keep the seats warm, 52 weeks a year, And can taste a new barrel, From one taste of beer.”
“Others pass through, From all over the world, Our nine little hamlets, Like a string of pearls.”
Helped to lift spirits of locals
Karen says: “Stacey and Bethany spoke to lots of customers’ and we loved what they did. The residency was a great project that helped to lift peoples’ spirits in the village during lockdowns, as they felt they were connecting through something and talking about life in the village.”
She adds: “We are still planning for the project to reach a crescendo with the song being performed at an event at the pub. It was due to be performed at our Christmas carol service, but was thwarted by lockdown initially and other issues last Christmas.”
Another key benefit of the residency to the pub is that it helped Karen and David discover more about the pub’s history.
Karen says: “We can find very little history on this pub, so having artists who were asking the right questions to help bring out some of the stories was wonderful and through the song we have a written record of them too.”
Spreading cheer with ‘Winter Warmers’ poems
The publicans also engaged with INN CROWD’s ‘Winter Warmers’ campaign, Winter Warmers – Inn Crowd, during the second Covid-19 lockdown in January 2021.
The ‘Winter Warmers’ initiative, saw poets from around the UK commissioned to write poems about pubs, to help support both artists and pubs who were among the sectors hit hardest by the Covid-19 lockdowns. The poems were printed on ‘postcards of positivity’ and sent to pubs around the UK to use to help spread some cheer and help keep connected with local people.
Karen and David used the poem postcards to send out with the pub’s takeaways and also posted them through the doors of local people with a brief message written on.
Karen says: “We are quite creative as a pub in reaching out to people, such as our remote scavenger hunts that we hosted during the pandemic lockdowns to help entertain and keep customers connected, but having tools like the postcards pushes you to think of different ways of connecting with people and were great and much appreciated by the recipients.”
The host touring scheme for the White Lion is Applause Rural Touring. INN CROWD is funded by Arts Council England.
The lead partners are Applause Rural Touring, Creative Arts East and the National Centre for Writing.