We’re delighted to confirm that Paraorchestra has been awarded a grant of £65,000 from The Linbury Trust in support of our new project, SMOOSH! – a large-scale outdoor show that will premiere in Autumn 2021.

Our biggest commission to date, SMOOSH! aims to bring joy and a celebratory vibe to the streets; a huge, glorious wind band, pumping out pop classics, inviting anyone and everyone who encounters it to dance on their doorsteps, and sing along in a magnificent communal karaoke; a ‘masseoke’!

Featuring a core of 20 musicians from Paraorchestra’s uniquely eclectic musical squad, up to 50 community wind and brass players, and both professional and community dancers, SMOOSH! – Sonic Street Food from Paraorchestra – will be an inclusive, accessible, and safe spectacle for the senses, a street party bringing communities together for a welcome antidote to the pressures of lockdown.

Dancers and musicians rehearse in a large indoor concourse. Socially distanced.

The funding to create SMOOSH! comes at a time when the need for safe, communal music experiences is greater than ever before. We know that no one has been able to experience the power of a live music event or the catharsis of a communal experience for many months, but our aim is that SMOOSH! delivers on every level.

“We are extremely grateful to The Linbury Trust for this grant as it will be invested right into the heart of our post-Covid artistic programme. The pandemic has exacerbated the inequalities of living as a disabled person or working as a disabled artist and has disproportionately hit the disabled community harder than any other. The cultural sector can only truly say it has recovered if no one is left behind in the process. SMOOSH! will offer a safe, celebratory and inclusive experience for audiences and will involve a diverse mix of disabled artists and musicians at every step of the way.”
Jonathan Harper, Paraorchestra, Chief Executive Officer

Outside, a trombone player in the foreground, a sousaphone player, a drummer plays drums mounted on the back of a golf buggy

Stuart Hobley, Director of The Linbury Trust says: “We’re really thrilled to be working with Paraorchestra and their new production, SMOOSH! As Paraorchestra’s premier 2021 commission, SMOOSH! will be a joyful antidote to a year of lockdown; an extraordinary carnival of high-quality live music and immersive performance. Developed, led, and performed by Paraorchestra’s ensemble of talented disabled and non-disabled artists & musicians and supported by a troupe of dancers and community performers this is going to be a powerful, personal and creative invention. So, get ready to be SMOOSHED!”

The making of SMOOSH! began with an exploratory research and development session at Bristol’s Ashton Gate Stadium in April 2021 with an ensemble of Paraorchestra musicians – including six of our new recruits – and four dancers. More news on where and when SMOOSH! will first be performed, the partnerships we have formed to deliver it safely, and additional funders supporting the project will be revealed soon.

“It’s great music performed in the most open-hearted and invitational way, a great big sonic and visual hug. This is not about artists over there and audiences here, it’s about one glorious great melting pot of humanity.”
Charles Hazlewood, Paraorchestra Artistic Director

Outside, two dancers perform on the move. A golf buggy and a sousaphone in the background.

The Linbury Trust is an independent grant-making Trust established in 1973 by Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, and his wife Anya, Lady Sainsbury CBE. The Trust has awarded almost £200m in grant funding across the world, supporting a wide variety of compelling and exciting projects in the fields of arts, culture; the environment; social and medical welfare, and overseas aid.

Logo in orange serif font reads The Linbury Trust