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Liverpool Theatre Festival

Review by Nigel Smith

JOHN Godber’s 1985 comedy Shakers was, at its time, very of its time. A companion piece to its older brother Bouncers, it centres around four waitresses in a trendy cocktail bar, negotiating their way through a typical evening’s service. This revival by RTB productions at Liverpool Theatre Festival is directed by Margaret Connell, who acted in a ‘90s production of the play, and she has made a fair few tweaks and adjustments to the text to give this cocktail of wit and wisdom a contemporary flavour.

The subject matter remains as timely as ever, based on the sad reality that a great many customers, whether through drunken loss of manners, innate boorishness or straightforward snobbery, behave appallingly to the staff in bars, treating them as though they were part of the merchandise or in some way sub-human. “We’re real people too” is as important a message as it ever was, and now that bars and restaurants are having to enforce unwelcome restrictions on customers’ behaviours it’s a good time to reinforce the fact that bar staff, whilst performing a service, have feelings and deserve respect.

They have lives too and sometimes, but not always, aspirations of a different life. The magic of Godber’s writing is that it combines bawdy humour with moments of genuine introspection. The quartet of cocktail Shakers in the eponymous bar exchange conversation as they weave amongst their customers, revealing glimpses of their lives beyond this place of work. The show opens and closes with a chorus that shows us the mask they wear to face the punters. It’s a mask that slips occasionally, letting out little aerosols of venom in the backhand remarks they use to deal with the abuse and impatience of the customers.

Now and then the spotlight falls on one single character. The other three are suspended in time while a soliloquy is delivered, offering us a window into the life behind the smile. Lost dreams, broken promises, secret hopes and fears all spill out in these moments of reflection.

Shakers bar teems with customers. A group of supermarket staff on a hard-earned night out; drunken lads on a pub crawl, ordering cocktails for their comic names; businessmen trying to impress, and a host of other colourful characters. The cast of four, comprising Alice Bunker-Whitney, Danielle McLauren, Isobel Balchin and Jennifer Vaudrey, turn on a heel to bring us all of these, then with another swift movement they are back to sashaying round with imaginary trays of glasses, or plates of seafood pasta that no one seems to have ordered.

It’s fast moving and, thanks to a spirited, vocally agile cast and Connell’s choice of updating many of the references to stores, brands etc., it raises a lot of knowing laughter from the audience.

A welcome and worldly revival of a classic Scouse one-acter.

Liverpool Theatre Festival continues at St Luke’s until Sunday, and you can view the festival brochure here: https://issuu.com/billelms/docs/lft_brochure_v11

Photo: David Munn

Review by Nigel Smith

THE brainchild of Producer Bill Elms, Liverpool Theatre Festival brings just over a week of live theatre performances to the glorious space of St Luke’s Bombed Out Church on Leece Street. Uniquely an enclosed space that’s in the open air, St Luke’s is an oasis in the heart of town and a perfect location for reigniting theatre.

Individual local production companies have created all the shows, and opening the festival is Wise Tortoise Entertainment’s ‘A Fairytale Journey Across The Mersey’, described by writer/director Kai Jolley as a Panto Mashup. It’s a madcap 50 minute family show that takes a collection of favourite panto characters and archetypes and throws them together into a picaresque rescue mission.

Jolley’s tale begins, in a bit of location fantasy worthy of Donizetti, on a tropical island somewhere not far from the Mersey. A vertically challenged giant has stolen all the island’s coconuts in revenge for the theft of The Heart of the Mersey, a precious stone that has been taken by Prince Charming as a gift for Cinderella. The feisty Maureen Ann, known as Mo-Anna (‘See what we did there?’) sets out to recover the stone in order to secure the return of the precious coconuts. On her way she is aided – or possibly hindered, by her Granny Manny – the panto dame of the piece – Snow White, and a mop-headed fitness instructor going by the curiously familiar name of Joe Weetabix.

The show is propelled forward by a cleverly assembled collection of songs, from Don’t Stop Me Now to the Monster Mash. There are some great vocals by the four-strong cast, accompanied by a tightly assembled soundtrack. Tilly Smith is Mo-Anna, and alongside her are Eva McKenna as Snow White and the Giant, Benjamin Keith as Prince Charming and Joe Weetabix and James J Kirby turning out a splendid dame with his Granny Manny. The ensemble put huge energy into bringing the zany plot to life and there are some great set pieces, including an accelerating fitness routine, a bubble-fest of a boat journey and storm sequence, and a novel twist on the mandatory ‘We’ll have to do it again then’ routine.

It seems that Jolley has set ‘fun’ as the watchword for the show, as it’s obvious that the cast are having plenty of it throughout, and this infectiously transmits itself to the audience. A Fairytale Journey Across The Mersey is a splendid one-act take on the panto concept, and makes a high-energy and maximum enjoyment opener to a festival that, it’s hoped, will become an annual event.

There’s one thing that won’t be infectious about this show, though, or any of the other performances that make up the festival which runs until until next Sunday. St Luke’s has been carefully adapted as a Covid-secure venue, with temperature checks on entry, seating separated into bubbles for each party booked (from 1-6 people per group) and drinks service to your seat via an ordering app. You can be reassured that the safety of cast, crew and theatregoers has been foremost in the producer’s mind in developing the event.

Further details are available from the festival website at www.liverpooltheatrefestival.com

LIVERPOOL Hospitality, in partnership with City & Guilds, have been chosen as the key delivery partner by the Combined Authority to certify skills across the hospitality sector in the Liverpool City Region.

The partnership will work with hospitality employers across the City Region to enable people working in the sector to gain an international certification for their skills and experience. The project will allow employers to register any of their hospitality staff for certification, including those facing redundancy.

Successful individuals will receive a globally recognised digital badge which they can use to showcase their experience on online CVs and social media. Recognising people’s skills this way, while the hospitality industry is facing an uncertain future, gives people the chance to progress in their careers or look for a new job with confidence.

The skills certification will be offered free of charge to all participating employers and their staff, thanks to funding from the Combined Authority and Liverpool Hospitality.

Jeremy Dahdi, Executive Director of International and Digital Credentials at City & Guilds, said:                “We are incredibly excited to enter the next stage of our partnership with the Liverpool City Region and further embed Global Hospitality Certification as a skills benchmark for employers. Skills are the currency of the 21st century and the project shows that investing in skills is one of the most powerful ways to support the recovery of the hospitality industry.”

Liverpool Hospitality, during the recent pandemic rebranded from Liverpool Hospitality Association, whilst growing its membership by over 100% to in excess of 120 Hotels, Restaurant, Bars and Hospitality operators within the city region.

Marcus Magee, Chairman of Liverpool Hospitality, said: “We are delighted that we are able to give employers and their staff across the City Region the opportunity to get their skills globally recognised, and are very grateful to the Combined Authority for their continued support. We believe that our innovative concept will be a game changer for skills development, and we look forward sharing our experience with the industry in the rest of the country and beyond.”

Certification is available for a wide range of culinary and hospitality jobs, from entry to senior level posts.            

For those wanting to start a career in hospitality, there will be an option to complete a four-week work experience programme, delivered by Savvy Hospitality Academy. This initiative is looking for those wanting to discover a new opportunity within the Industry and we openly encourage people to apply for this contracted short term opportunity to undergo the training, with the desired outcome of long term employment at the end of the four week traineeship. 

This initial phase is part of a two-year strategic plan for the hospitality industry in the Liverpool City Region. The initiative, called ‘Your Skills, Your Liverpool’, is at the heart of the City Region Skills Strategy for Visitor Economy – a collaboration between employers, the City Region and City & Guilds, which builds on the successful pilot of the Global Hospitality Certification over the last year.

For more information and how to apply visit www.yourskillsyourliverpool.com                                                   
To find out more about the Global Hospitality Certification visit https://www.cityandguilds.com/what-we-offer/hospitality-and-catering-offering/global-certification

A LOCAL digital marketing agency OON Media has been given a post pandemic boost by scooping an award.

The independent agency, which is based in Wirral, has been named Best Digital Marketing Agency Merseyside in the 2020 Media Innovator Awards by Corporate Vision magazine.

Award winners are described as being able to “adapt, grow and evolve to the needs of the industry in the pursuit of bettering it and challenging others to follow their lead”.

The agency has continued to trade throughout lockdown despite a devastating three months of zero income, with all pre-booked work cancelled due to lockdown and social distancing.

Instead, the team spent the time researching and developing unique and innovative ways to expand the business in a bid to come out the other side stronger. No staff were placed on furlough and the OON Media directors took a reduced salary.

Mike Sowden, CEO of OON Media, commented: “Being named Best Digital Marketing Agency Merseyside 2020 in the Media Innovator Awards is a huge boost especially in the current climate. OON Media was created in 2016 and we’re still in our formative years compared to some of our peers, so this accolade is something we really must stand up and shout about. Our clients’ core values and objectives are at the heart of all we do, and that feeds our appetite to exceed their expectations.

“We used lockdown to complete a full skills analysis to identify how we wanted to expand both client services and our own team. It was a crucial task and will ultimately move us forward, helping to future-proof us as an agency. Our next step is recruiting the right people for the four new jobs we have also created.

“The last six months have been a time of real change and uncertainty. But we remain excited for the future. The sky is the limit for OON Media – it’s going to be a real journey of adventure and discovery.”

OON Media’s previous public and private sector clients have included theatre, television, charities, SMEs, corporate, and events companies. A new social media marketing campaign was launched recently to showcase the agency’s expanded portfolio of services, skills, experience and qualities.

The business has invested in state-of-the-art camera equipment for its in-house video production work. Production cameras are Netflix and BBC-approved, and shoot all footage in 4K.

As sectors slowly recover and find new ways to operate, OON Media has offered past, present and potential clients affordable ways to promote their business. Incentives include introductory offers, voucher system, and payment programme. OON Media has also partnered with Wirral Chamber Of Commerce to offer exclusive pricing to members.

Jazmin Collins, Media Innovator Awards Co-ordinator, said: “For the third edition of the Media Innovator Awards, Corporate Vision Magazine aimed to seek out the brightest sparks who influence, engage and provide the best of services, from the app creatives to the legal pioneers, from the marketing masters to the talents of technicians, to differentiate in a competitive, ever-evolving global industry.

“We have had some amazing individuals, businesses and enterprises take part this year from a variety of sectors across the globe. I wish them all the best in their future in endeavours and to keep up the great work.”

LIVERPOOL John Moores University (LJMU) has been confirmed as the education partner at the much-anticipated Littlewoods Film and TV Studios being developed in the city by CAPITAL&CENTRIC with Liverpool City Council.

The deal will see LJMU co-located alongside Twickenham Studios and providing a direct link between academia and industry in what will be the largest of this type of facility in the UK.

Named after Littlewoods founder John Moores, the University has signed up to take over 75,000 sq ft of space for an Entertainment Technology Centre, in conjunction with Hugh Baird College, focused on professional training for TV and film.

The redevelopment of the former pools building will include a ‘Hollywood-standard’ filming complex intended to supercharge Liverpool’s booming film and digital entertainment industry and make the city the digital entertainment capital of the UK.

LJMU will be offering a full range of further and higher education courses, all designed to equip local youngsters for a job in the region’s rapidly growing film and TV sector. There are also plans to reach out to local schools through social impact developer CAPITAL&CENTRIC’s award winning ‘Brainery’ initiative. 

Co-locating education alongside industry is key to maximising the huge regeneration potential of the project, which will support up to 3,650 jobs and result in an annual boost of £199m (GVA) to the local economy.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Campbell said the university was proud to partner with CAPITAL&CENTRIC, Twickenham Studios, Liverpool City Council and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to deliver this transformational development for the City.

“Our intention is to keep Liverpool ahead of the game, so the combination of training and talent pool are a key part of the recipe,” explains Professor Campbell.

“Our renowned Screen School prepares professional film-makers, producers, digital artists, journalists and scriptwriters, and we will be working closely with our industry partners to ensure the talent pipeline supports this key sector in Liverpool’s economic future.

“The Screen School will have a new additional base at the complex and we shall shortly be announcing a new suite of undergraduate, postgraduate, post professional and short courses to open up new vistas in research and high-end skills for young people and help cater for the needs of these growing industries.”

LJMU are the second anchor tenant after Twickenham Studios and take the Liverpool development to over 60% pre-let. The remaining 100,000 sq ft will include office accommodation for companies in film, TV and digital sectors, and event space open to the public in the evenings, with a café-bar and 150 seat screening room.

Adam Higgins, co-founder of CAPITAL&CENTRIC said: “Getting an education partner on board has been what we’ve been waiting for and it will ensure that local people have the right skills to take advantage of the huge opportunities on offer. Clustering film and TV with education is something pretty unique and Littlewoods Studios will be the biggest facility of its kind in the UK.

“In its heyday Littlewoods was the biggest employer in the area and where many people aspired to work. We want to bring that feeling back and get local kids excited about a career in film and TV and see that there are real jobs at the end of their studies.

“With our second anchor tenant now on board the rest of the space will be for companies involved in film, TV and digital, so if you’re interested in making Littlewoods your home, get in touch.”

A £17 million funding commitment from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Strategic Investment Fund was announced last month, with the project identified as a key component of the Liverpool City Region’s £8.8 billion ‘Building Back Better’ economic recovery plan.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor Liverpool City Region, said: “I’m proud that our region has a pre-eminent place as a cultural capital known across the world. The Littlewoods Studios development is central to ensuring that we keep and continue to grow that reputation. Last month the Combined Authority approved a £17 million investment in the development and it is a key part of the city region’s Building Back Better economic recovery plan, so it’s great that LJMU is now confirmed as the educational partner in the project. This will help drive the region even further as a centre of excellence in media and film production and provide skills and employment for years to come.”

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “I’m delighted that Liverpool John Moores University, in conjunction with Hugh Baird College, has signed up to the Littlewoods Film Studio scheme. The university has a fantastic screen school and their involvement will add a unique educational element to the project. One of the key goals of the studios for the council is to use it as a base to support skills and training to develop an inclusive and highly skilled screen workforce. This partnership will provide invaluable career making experiences for students. It’s a great development, one which will further strengthen the city’s reputation in this key creative sector and develop a solid platform to support more productions and jobs in the future.”

Professor Anthony Lilley OBE, Chairman of the The Creative District Improvement Company (Twickenham Studios) said: “As we build back better from COVID 19, we at TCDI are thinking long term – and so are our partners in Liverpool. Our UK-wide network of studios, of which Littlewoods will be a key part, rests on the foundations of a highly skilled workforce and a world-class supply chain of companies both in the creative sectors themselves and in everything from catering to carpentry, electrics to accountancy; all of which are needed to form a successful creative cluster. We thrive when working together with universities, colleges and schools and are delighted by our strong and rapidly developing relationship with our co-tenants, LJMU.  We look forward to many years of success together.”

The 10 acre Littlewoods Studios will be up and running by 2023, with temporary ‘pop up’ studios to be built by Liverpool City Council on neighbouring land by the end of the year.

dot-art’s Lucy Byrne tells Good News Liverpool readers what’s in store now that art classes are back on the table…

AFTER months of staying at home and trying to remain inspired and productive from our living rooms, we are finally able to announce our new program of art classes and creative workshops for the Autumn!

We’ve been working hard with our venue partners to ensure these are as safe as possible, with reduced participant numbers, extra cleaning and mandatory face coverings in place.

Because fewer of you will be working in the city centre every day, we have fewer evening courses and more weekend workshops on offer, but there’s still a wide range of days, times and durations to choose from. If for any reason we are unable to deliver the course (for example a local lockdown) you will automatically receive a full refund, so you can book with full confidence. All our courses are suitable for beginners, but hurry, with reduced numbers, tickets are very limited! So come and join us to get creative at one of our inspiring venues; Bluecoat, The Reader, FACT and the Anglican Cathedral.

At Bluecoat in November, we have 3 day weekend courses in Abstract Painting, where you can delve into the imaginative world of abstract painting, learning about layering, materials, composition and texture, Watercolour, where the emphasis of the course will be to give you confidence so that you can take chances with the medium and experiment to create exciting work and Portrait Drawing where you will learn the fundamentals of drawing characterful portraits, capturing a true likeness.  These are joined by a single Sunday workshop in Introduction to Cartooning, where you will learn the fundamentals you will need to create your own illustrated characters or depict others in cartoon form.

Over at FACT we are delighted to have the use of the BOX for our classes, giving us lots of space for socially distanced learning! On Monday evenings we will be holding our popular course in Drawing Techniques; as tutor Sarah-Jane says, no matter what medium you enjoy using, be it paint, pastel or clay, learning the essential drawing techniques will magnify your creative ability. On Tuesday evenings, FACT will host our very popular Life Drawing course, temporarily relocated from the Bluecoat. This course is for those who want to work directly from both the nude and clothed model and will develop your skills in life drawing, including accurate measuring, shading and drawing techniques.

We are also returning to Liverpool Cathedral on Sundays 10th October and 21st November for Sketching in the Anglican, a unique opportunity for both beginners and experienced artists to spend a Sunday morning drawing and learning new skills in this fascinating location.

Our ever-popular dot-art Club for creative children has also relocated to the Cathedral, to ensure we have lots of space for our young artists! These sessions for 8-12 year olds run in six week blocks, starting 12th September and 7th November and will now take place from 9.30-11am on Saturday mornings. Every week our young artists will be encouraged to develop their drawing skills and build a lifelong love of art under the expert guidance of artist Brigitte Watkinson.

Over in South Liverpool, The Reader at Calderstones Mansion is hosting the popular 10 week Monday afternoon course in Textile Arts, creating a range of nature based items using felting, stitching, sewing and printing. Tutor Catherine will also be running a 3 day course in Lino Cut for Beginners on Saturdays in November which will introduce you to the materials and tools of lino cutting before moving onto creating, cutting and printing your own design. A further 3 day course, following on from sell out outdoor sessions in August, is Landscape Painting with aware winning artist Jacob Gourley.

Finally we have a set of single day workshops; Sketching in the Park – the perfect way to de-stress is through being creative in nature, Introduction to Chinese Painting, where you can explore the history and techniques of this fascinating subject with artist Madeleine Pires and a Cyanotype Sunprint Workshop which will introduce you to the use of a traditional Victorian photographic technique as a way of creating unique artistic images.

For photographers, we have a new hybrid course, Transform your Photography, which will consist of 7 live online lessons and one full day practical group workshop in Liverpool city centre. Over the 8 sessions, tutor Mark Reeves will teach you how to transform your pictures from snapshots to works of art!

Full details, prices and booking information can be found here: dot-art.co.uk/art-classes

 

THE sky really is the limit for Liverpool City Council worker Donna Hall after she was presented with a high-flying national award for her work with the RAF Air Cadets. 

By day, Donna works as a physical activity and sports development coordinator with the council and has recently been part of the Major Sports Events Team working on bringing events to the city.

But in her spare time, the can-do council worker has mentored hundreds of young people in her role as Regional Warrant Officer for Wales and West Region Air Training Corps. 

Donna first joined the Air Cadets in 1994 because she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her older brother, who was already a cadet. 

She took on her role as an adult volunteer in 2006 and since then she has helped scores of cadets to realise their full potential through a varied programme of activities and events. Donna is supported by the council in her RAF Air Cadet responsibilities, because she is given time to devote to her duties.

The outgoing head of the Air Cadets, Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, decided to create a special Volunteer of the Year Award as part of her retirement legacy. 

And Donna became its first-ever recipient when she recently travelled to Air Cadets HQ in Cranwell, Lincolnshire to pick up the impressive crystal cup.

Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty praised Donna for being ‘omnipresent’ in her role across the Wales and West Region. She said: “She is passionate about her role, lives and breathes drill and ceremonial and supports wider initiatives with her hard work, good humour and positivity. She inspires those around her.”

Donna said: “Having benefited from being an air cadet myself, I took the role because I know the value the service can bring to the lives of young people. For me, seeing our cadets developing, growing in confidence and become outstanding citizens extremely satisfying.

“To be recognised for my work by Air Commodore McCafferty is an amazing honour. Volunteering is an incredibly rewarding thing to do and I would urge anyone who has ever thought of becoming a volunteer to give it a go.

“Thankfully I have received a great deal of support from Liverpool City Council which has enabled me to complete my RAF duties as well as keeping up with the day-job.” 

Watch the video about Donna’s award here: https://vimeo.com/453617269 

 

Liverpool band Baiana have released their first single – and it’s proving a hit.

Miso Loco (it’s a fine time in the sunshine) has had thousands of plays since its release on July 31st and has been called “the sound of summer” by celebrities including John Bishop and Simon Rimmer. 

The song, which is available on Spotify and Souncloud, has been played on national radio several times and a video shot in and around the Bombed Out church, Bold Street and the rooftops of Elysian Fields, is also earning applause.

Baiana (which means “girl from Bahia, Brazil”) features multi-talented Liverpudlian singer Laura Doyle and a top class line up of musicians.

Laura said: “We’ve all being going crazy during lockdown but now the summer is finally getting going it’s time to go Miso Loco!

Liverpool is the Rio De Janeiro of England and Cariocas (people from Rio) have the same sense of humour, outgoing love and joy of all things fun and we wanted to capture that bossa spirit and Liverpool vibe.”

Miso Loco was originally produced by Tony Draper at Liverpool’s famous Parr Street studios and remixed by Morse Code Studios, featuring Gavin Fitzjohn (famous for his work with Paolo Nutini, Sterophonics  and Imelda May among others) and keys by John Dyke (James Morrison).

With its infectious Latin rhythm and catchy chorus, Miso Loco is sure to have you dancing your way out of the lockdown with a smile on your face, a caipirinha in your hand and a heart full of joy.

Listen to the new single here:

Photo: Philip Vile

LIVERPOOL Everyman & Playhouse have created their first Diversity Action Group to take forward the theatres’ commitment to diversity, equality, inclusion and social justice.

Following a statement in support of Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues in the theatre industry, released in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the Everyman & Playhouse theatres have actively started to implement long-term changes to reflect the communities they serve.

The Diversity Action Group will consist of four staff, four board members and four co-opted members of the public whom the theatres are now actively looking to recruit.

Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust (LMTT), who run the Everyman and Playhouse theatres, are particularly looking for individuals from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds, who can bring their unique perspectives. The group will play a key role in considering initiatives that promote equality and diversity, advising the theatres on aspects of, inclusion and social justice.

Andrea Nixon, chair of Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust Board of Trustees, said: “The formation of the Diversity Action Group allows us to call on the expertise of a range of individuals to help us progress initiatives in this area and we are excited by the positive outcomes for the theatres, the city and the region that will surely follow. 

“The LMTT Board is committed to diversity, equality, inclusion and social justice and we are very grateful to individuals who are interested in helping us on this journey.”

Mark Da Vanzo, chief executive of Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust, said: “We want to ensure that the Everyman & Playhouse Theatres are welcoming and safe spaces for all, regardless of your background and means. We are keen to listen to the communities we serve and the Diversity Action Group will ensure that their voice is heard and plays an integral part in our decision-making as we look to bring about positive change”.

The four public co-optees will receive a fee for their involvement and will join four members of staff and four volunteer board members in attending meetings every two months.

To be a part of Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Theatres’ Diversity Action Group, please visit: www.everymanplayhouse.com/diversity-action-group. The deadline for applications is Friday September 4.

Maggie O'Carroll, Chief Executive, The Women's Organisation

THE Women’s Organisation has announced a national partnership with Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) to commission pioneering research highlighting the role social enterprise can play in economic recovery.

Liverpool-based charity, The Women’s Organisation, will collaborate with ERC, the UK’s leading centre of excellence for research into the growth, innovation and productivity of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to deliver new research on social enterprise.

Produced by recognised economic experts across the UK and internationally, the research will offer expert insights into how social enterprises can play a key role in driving economic recovery and support the communities hit hardest by the impact of COVID-19.

Research will be delivered in a special series of five State of the Art (SOTA) reviews, tackling individual key themes in relation to social enterprise, such as employment and skills opportunities, diversity and inclusion, and environmental sustainability.

Set to be published in Autumn 2020, the SOTA reviews will be launched through an online event and be made readily available for download for policymakers, business-leaders and wider audiences.

SOTA reviews were established by the ERC, which has research bases at both Warwick University Business School and Aston University Business School, in response to a growing demand from policymakers for specialist concise summaries on topical issues within the social economy sector.

The research will draw upon the latest economic evidence, address research gaps, and respond to key policy questions, seeking to provide solutions to the economic, social and environmental problems facing the UK following COVID-19.

This partnership follows the news that The Women’s Organisation was this year listed in the top 1% of UK Social Enterprises in the SE100 Index, which is the country’s leading source of market intelligence on social enterprise.

CEO of The Women’s Organisation, Maggie O’Carroll, was also named as one of the UK’s most influential people in the social enterprise sector, making the top ten in Natwest’s WISE100 list as part of the SE100 Index.

Maggie O’Carroll, CEO of The Women’s Organisation, says: “The social economy has long been a stalwart in providing opportunities to disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, a demographic that has been hardest hit by the impact of COVID-19. This ground-breaking research will highlight the key role that social enterprises can play in rebuilding the economy in a financially sustainable way, whilst also supporting individuals and communities who need it most.

“The Women’s Organisation is committed to supporting a stronger social economy, and we believe now is the time to trust social enterprises to take on the social, economic and environmental challenges currently facing our country. We are delighted to collaborate with the Enterprise Research Centre, a pioneering, internationally renowned research body, on this innovative research that will play a vital role in shaping a fairer, more sustainable and prosperous economy.”

Dr Vicki Belt, Deputy Director of the Enterprise Research Centre at Warwick University Business School, says: Covid-19 is having a huge impact on businesses and communities across the country. As we look to recovery, social enterprises – which have been a real success story in recent years – have the potential to play a key role. The ERC are delighted to be working in partnership with the Women’s Organisation to produce a new set of ‘State of the Art’ (SOTA) reviews on focusing on social enterprise. We launched our SOTA review series in response to the growing demand from policymakers for concise summaries of knowledge on topical issues in enterprise research. There are now over 40 reviews in the series. This new set of five reviews will fill several important knowledge gaps.

“Social enterprises generate huge value to the UK, and are often based within some of the most disadvantaged communities, employing some of the most vulnerable people in society. I am looking forward very much to working in partnership with the Women’s Organisation, with its wealth of practical experience in delivering business support and training, to explore critical issues around the role of social enterprise in economic recovery and in building a more a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive future.”

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