CALL OUT: Preston’s creative community commission (deadline July 24, 2020)

CALL OUT: Targeting PRESTON’s creative community affected by lockdown (i.e. you lost income).
DEADLINE: JULY 24, 2020 – 5pm.

This call out is for all creatives in Preston – artists, musicians, photographers, performers.

I’ve been trying to raise £1,000 so that I can commission several Preston creatives to produce new work, and help ease their financial strain during these difficult times. Fundraiser details here – you can still donate:

One of the commissions will be picked by Preston’s No.1 independent music venue The Ferret, with the aim of that to be performed/displayed at their venues after lockdown.

The other commissions will be exhibited or performed in the city sometime after lockdown.

All you have to do to apply is send some brief details of yourself and your idea, and demonstrate a link to Preston (i.e. you live in the city or work in the city.

Thanks to everyone for their support so far – shares and donations – including The Ferret who have made a big donation in order to be part of this community funder for Preston.

As lockdown is slowly lifting, the fundraiser must now come to an end so the deadline to apply for funding is Friday July 24, 5pm.

Here are the details:

Email with:

Your name, address and contact details
Your connection with Preston (one sentence)
Brief description of new work you would like to create (300 words max)

NOTE: Photographs/videos/web links of proposed work/previous work are welcome (and are not counted as part of the 300 word project description)


Preston Artists Coronavirus Hardship Fund

NOTE: The crowdfunder is for artists of any kind, including (but not limited to): performers, poets, actors, writers, photographers, painters, sculptors, sound artists and musicians.

IN A NUTSHELL: This crowdfunder is raising money for artists and creatives in Preston to produce new works to be performed/displayed after the covid-19 lockodwn is lifted.

My name is Garry Cook, I’m a freelance photographer and arts producer based in Preston. I’ve been putting on theatre and spoken-word performances in the city and around the North West for the past few years.

I’m launching this Go Fund Me campaign for two reasons. As a freelance creative, I know how difficult this coronavirus lockdown has been for artists. Many already work on tight budgets and are now really struggling after having commissions and jobs cancelled. And secondly, because of this covid-19 lockdown, this city and its people have been starved of live theatre, performance and art experience – and I want to make sure we bounce back with a celebration of this area’s brilliant creativity.

The initial idea of the fundraiser is to provide five artists with £200 each. If more money is raised, more artists will receive £200. The money will be paid upfront to artists in order to give them immediate financial support during a period where many of them will not have any income.

Then – when all this is over – the aim is to get as many people as possible to see the new works (whatever they may be) so that the people of Preston and the wider area of Lancashire can experience great art and performance – and feel proud of the city and the place they live.

However, this crowdfunder differs in two ways from others currently active in cities across the country.

Firstly, the money is essentially payment for artists to produce a piece of new work of their choice. I would like that work to be performed or displayed in Preston, Lancashire, on one night or more, sometime after this covid-19 lockdown is lifted (date(s) to be confirmed, possibly in October 2020). If an artwork, the artist should be willing to attend the opening and introduce their work.

Secondly, unlike other hardship funds this WILL NOT be done on a first-come, first served basis. All applications will be assessed on artistic merit. I will assess them (and may ask a trusted arts-based practitioner to help me).

Please share this fundraiser with all your friends and contacts, particularly local businesses and organisations who you think may like to be involved. I’m hoping some of the city’s bigger institutions will step forward and donate to this fundraiser, and stand alongside the people of this city in supporting its great and growing creative sector.

For the artists getting the money:

My only firm stipulations for suitability of work are that the applications demonstrate high artistic quality. I will be looking for a diverse range of art forms.

My own work in the arts has seen me put on a load of performance shows in several venues across the city, often bringing nationally and internationally acclaimed performers and shows to Preston. But part of my work, particularly during Lancashire Fringe Festival in 2019, has been developing new, emerging and local talent – which is where this crowdfunder is focused.

Preston has made huge strides in arts and cultures over the last ten years and I want the creatives instrumental in this growth can be supported during this hugely difficult time,

If £1,000 is raised, I will immediately assess applications and commission five creatives. This process will be repeated after every additional £1,000 (with ALL applications reconsidered, so no need to re-apply.

Information and how to apply
For any performances or exhibitions of new art works, I will organise venues and logistics, working with all artists involved. You can see some of the performers I’ve brought to the city – but please don’t let these examples limit your ideas.

The only criteria needed to apply for this funding is that you can demonstrate a connection with Preston and are willing to perform/display your new work in the city later this year (possibly in October as stated already). The money raised for this crowdfunder is available to anyone who works as a creative, including students. Individuals or groups can apply. If it is successful, I expect a lot more applications than I can commission and appreciate that too many people will not be funded by this project – but I’m hoping it will really make a difference to some of the fantastic creatives currently living and working within this city.

I’ll do my best to answer any questions (within a reasonable time).

To apply for this fund email with:

Your name, address and contact details
Your bank details
Your connection with Preston (one sentence)
Brief description of new work you would like to create (300 words max)
NOTE: Photographs/videos/web links of proposed work/previous work are welcome (and are not counted as part of the 300 word project description)

Further information:
I appreciate that for some artists £200 will not cover materials costs. For example, this money would not cover the printing and framing of photographs for an exhibition – but I would not want a photographer to be deterred from entering. I appreciate that a meaningful photography project could not be carried out under lockdown, but new/recent work – not previously exhibited – is welcome to be submitted.

If you are submitting a single piece of new artwork, exhibiting existing additional work may be possible.

Unfortunately, there will be no additional funds available above the £200, but where possible I will aim to assist in reducing production costs either through support of local businesses, loan of equipment or support in kind.

Lancashire Fringe Festival feedback

Lancashire Fringe festival had an audience of almost 1,000 people for 14 performances over 10 nights in May 2019.

Here are some of the fabulous audience comments:

Absolutely  amazing. I really enjoyed it. I hope this festival will become a tradition in Preston and grow bigger and bigger. Fantastic.

Excellent. More please. Let’s make Preston the centre of culture.

Enjoyed immensely. Preston has been crying out for this for a long time. Special mention to Amy Lee Tempest and Richy Integer – great.

Fantastic mix of spoken word performances. Great to see emerging talent.

Absolutely fantastic. Funny, moving and thought-provoking (and I’m not being patronising) Superb night out.

Wonderful. Lovely to hear a litany of language fast, sad, sorry. I’ll be back for more.

It was a great introduction to the art of spoken word. very good variety of work and a high standard of performance. Can’t wait until the next one.

Excellent – great to see fringe theatre of such high calibre in Preston. Lovely stories – warm, funny and thought-provoking.

Brilliant content v well acted. Funny stories, poignant moments, sometimes strange heart-warming. Great energy, the actors seemed immersed in the stories, like they were really their own.

Original, moving, entertaining, inspirational – can’t wait for the next one! Brilliant acting, high quality performance – a great night with a convivial atmosphere and leaving me with plenty to think about.

I loved the range of monologues, the commitment from the actors. I liked the traverse staging. It meant everyone could see and it meant we could really feel transformed into a different place at each monologue. Lovely night out! Thank you. I felt the sounds were a little distracting – especially as we were near speaker. Really liked the monologues! Maybe that could be your next theme.

Excellent, very expressive. Full of emotions and understanding of various views of society these days.

Two terrific performances nice to see strong work in development, both are already appealing – look forward to what comes next. Katie is a brilliant improviser and Karen’s insights are relatable, plus gags are great and glad she kept them in!

Enjoyed the show. Initially felt nervous but liked the performance and how Katie switched from her 15-year-old self into ideas about recovery.

Don’t know how to describe it, not just a play, monologue [just a] one-woman show. And it worked! Well paced, kept my attention. Resonated. Will stay with me – which is the sign of a good story/play.

An absolutely phenomenal event, amazing job and a fantastic atmosphere! Well one Bob!

Good. Nice to see something different in a lovely location. Hope to see more events like this in Preston.


Brilliant performance. Challenging perceptions, asking questions.

Excellent. It made me cry.

Honest, raw, outstanding.

Facebook invited. I came, loved both shows. Absolutely awesome.

Amazing, the female stand up was inspiring and so real!. Need to see more female acts being appreciated. Rock N Roll was emotional and hilarious. Truly Moving.

Mind bending.


Absolutely awesome. Nannas so so current. Bras So much info and heart felt.

Great evening (unexpected protest withstanding). Great performances giving insights into women’s battles for having a say and being remembered.

Good quality, Ben put lots of effort into his performance.

Loved Ben’s performance and great to see platform given to new poets too.

Absolutely brilliant






PREVIEWS and REVIEWS: For Lancashire Fringe Festival (and other shows)

Lancashire Fringe festival had an audience of almost 1,000 people for 14 performances over 10 nights in May 2019.

Press coverage for Lancashire Fringe Festival 2019

Blog Preston Mar 9, 2019.

Lancashire Evening Post May 6, 2019.

The World News, May 6, 2019.

Visit Preston.

CCGUK, May 10, 2019.

British Theatre Guide, May 12, 2019.

Theatre of the Wild Beautiful and Damned.

North West End, May 18, 2019.

Lancashire Fringe Festival launches, Blog Preston July 7, 2016

Press coverage and other shows:

Louise Fazackerley, Blog Preston, Jan 10, 2020

Louise Fazackerley, Lancashire Post, Jan 3, 2020

Women Who W*nk, Blog Preston, November 25, 2019

Lancashire People’s Theatre, Blog Preston October 28, 2019

Lancashire People’s Theatre, Lancashire Post October 25, 2019

Mike Garry, Blog Preston October 22, 2019

Cole Moreton, Blog Preston Oct 14, 2019

Welcome to Paradise/Essex Girl, Blog Preston Sept 25, 209

Kevin P Gilday, Blog Preston Sept 16, 2019

Kevin P Gilday, Lancashire Post Sept 10, 2019

The Community Centre, Blog Preston, Aug 9, 2019

The Community Centre, Edinburgh Reporter, August 14, 2019

The Community Centre, Garstang Courier August 22, 2019

The Community Centre ITV Granda Aug 8, 2019

The Community Centre North West End Aug 8, 2019

The Community Centre, The Play’s The Thing August 2019

The Community Centre British Theatre Guide August 2019

Blackpool, What a Sh*t Place To Die, Blackpool Gazette Apr 12, 2019

Women Who W*nk, Blog Preston Mar 17, 2019

Garry Cook’s Worn, Lancashire Post Jan 8, 2019

Garry Cook’s Worn, Lancashire Post Nov 2, 2018

2019 aug 13 lep comm centre2019 sept 26 cole moretonIMG_20191001_165431lancashire peoples theatre lep oct 2019Lancashire Post, Sat. Sept. 14 2019 Page 14







REVIEW: Worn by Garry Cook

By Megan Titley, Lancashire Evening Post.

Worn performed at The Stanley Arms in Preston asks why do people buy old socks on websites?

Garry Cook
Garry Cook

Have your say

It was a one-man show about a curious sexual fetish which sees buyers on eBay purchase dirty sweaty socks and used tights with their well-earned money.

As one audience member who had travelled to see the show from Manchester asked before the performance commenced: “What else are you going to do on a Monday night except come and see something weird?”

Garry Cook performing Worn

Garry Cook performing Worn

Photographer and journalist Garry Cook welcomed the audience to Worn in an upstairs room at The Stanley Arms in Lancaster Road, Preston saying: “This is going to be quite an experimental night for all of us.”

Members of the audience gave each other critical side-eyed glances – were these people present because they sold intimate secondhand clothing online or had they been drawn into the performance out of intrigue for the trend?

Promotional material released ahead of the show described what to expect of the evening.

It stated: “Worn is a unique, socially-aware show that will give you an insight into other people’s lives and force you to reflect on your own attitudes to sex, society and the British media.”

The show began with Garry spitting words of judgement onto the sellers and buyers who partake in the trend – ‘disgusting’, ‘shame’, ‘shocking’.

It was almost cringe-worthy in its damning nature but there was a point in Garry’s venting to come later.

The brilliance of the show is that there’s no need for Garry to ham anything up. He is droll and the laughs from the audience come when he just states as a matter of fact the various traits of the underworld trade in worn clothing.

It is the absurdity of the fetish which is getting the laughs.

Reading an account from one seller on eBay on how she found herself selling used garments, Garry relates: “I put my foot in the shoe to show the product and that’s when the strange requests came in.

“One [buyer] has just asked me for worn tights with all the trimmings then said he was going to give them to his mum as a birthday present.”

What do trimmings mean? It wasn’t clear but it’s probably not for publication in a family newspaper anyway.

As he slowly uncovers the secret world of selling used and dirty underwear on eBay Garry says: “I don’t know about you but I want to know more. Does this woman do normal things?

“There’s only one way to find out and that’s to ask.”

What he discovers is that yes – the women are normal. Maybe the sales they make on eBay are helping them fund activities or new clothes for their daughters, for example.

But while the requests often have a sexual nature they can also be downright odd – one eBay seller was asked for toenail clippings to come with the socks she was advertising.

Another seller was asked to meet him in Tesco and walk about without shoes on, all of which would be rewarded with money.

In his quest to find out more about what he calls the “fetish fulfillment business” Garry decides to go ahead and buy a pair of used tights himself.

It’s an amusing moment during the performance when he pick up a sword, lit up in gaudy colours, and uses it to brandish a pair of tights so that audience members could get a closer look.

There’s a big moment during the show where Garry points an accusing finger at the British media for the part it plays in dishing out judgement on what behaviour is constituted as shameful, but that will require a ticket – why spoil the twist?

In a final one-liner Garry closes his performance with the words: “Hello, I’m Garry Cook and I buy worn clothes on eBay.”

Behind him appears the legs of a man in bright orange trousers – the very same that Garry is wearing on stage.

His point is that in investigating the trend he has become less judgmental and more sympathetic to people who buy and sell used underwear on eBay. Why should it be perceived as disgusting or shameful?

But the disparity is that there’s nothing weird about buying trousers second hand so his climactic point, although well-meaning, is somewhat lost.

Discussing the performance afterwards Ann Hall, 52, from Kirkham said: “I’m fascinated by people’s private lives. It was a really good introduction into a secret world.

“I entirely clothe myself in clothes from eBay and charity shops to recycle them.”

Giving her thoughts on what she might change about the she added: “I would downplay the use of words like ‘disgusting’. I would be matter of fact about it because the trend speaks for itself.”

Megan Titley’s preview of Worn: Performance in Preston uncovers secret trade in used tights, sweaty socks and other secondhand intimate clothing

Enjoy the Show’s Autumn season in Preston

Tuesday, Sept 3, 8pm
Skank by Clementine Bogg-Hargroves
Girls just wanna have a clean bill of health. Kate could be a successful writer, if she could just concentrate. Instead, her head is filled with recycling concerns, genius ways to ensnare Sexy Gary, and the persistent fear that her internal organs are against her.
“skank is laugh-out-loud funny, and Bogg-Hargroves reveals a talent for both comedy writing and performance” Hannah Kate, She-Wolf
“Wickedly funny, yet touching, Skank is a play that is a magnificent debut, brilliantly constructed and impeccably performed by Clementine Bogg-Hargroves” Nicola Brierly, The Play’s The Thing
“A constantly funny play” David Cunningham, British Theatre Guide
The Stanley Arms, Lancaster Road
Tickets £8

NOTE: This show is also in Blackpool at Bootleg Social on Weds, Sept 4 – tickets:


Tuesday, October 1, 8pm
Welcome to Paradise by A Ship of Fools
A playful, hilarious and anarchic comedy explores traditional images of Christmas, greed and consumerism.

★★★★★ Northern Soul
★★★★ Broadway Baby
“Master’s of their craft” Porl Cooper – Slung Low
“The cleverest, darkest funniest comedy I think I’ve ever seen” Jonny Unknown
“This shocking and energetic piece of theatre shows bravery and talent.” **** WhatsOnStage 

The Stanley Arms, Lancaster Road
Tickets £9


Wednesday, October 2, 8pm
My Jerusalem by Avital Raz
A solo performance combining live music with storytelling and projected images. A politically-charged tale of a drunken one-night stand, infused with stories of growing up in the turmoil of 1980s Israel.
“Nothing short of astonishing” Exposed Magazine

The Continental, South Meadow Lane
Tickets £9 (concession £6)


Tuesday, Oct 8, 8pm
The F**k It Button by Ali Kahn
What makes you press yours? Comedy actor and writer Ali Kahn reveals her f**k it list; how she lost herself in weed and w*nking until she found her spiritual erection. She’ll make you want to f**k it in a whole new way.
Winner – Best Comedy Greater Manchester Fringe
“F**king wonderful show….Kahn lays herself bare…she’s brutally and hilariously honest..” ★★★★★ North West End

The Continental, South Meadow Lane
Tickets £9


Tuesday October 15, 8pm
Essex Girl by Maria Ferguson
Kirsty is a sixteen-year-old girl growing up in 00s Brentwood. She also has a secret to tell you. One she can’t tell anyone else. Follow Kirsty’s as she tells you what it’s really like to be an Essex Girl ★★★★ ‘a valuable addition to the current feminist dialogue’ Spy in the Stalls ‘A hilarious nostalgia fest!’ The Play’s The Thing. Show of the Week at Vault 2019.

The Stanley Arms, Lancaster Road
Tickets £9


Derelict Mayhem festival (University of Central Lancashire, May 24 & 25, 2019)

Lancashire Fringe Festival shared this venue with Derelict Mayhem on May 24 at Media Factory, Preston.

Here’s the full list of Derleict artists (and photos by Garry Cook):


The Foundation. Our Foundation. Your Foundation.

In 1991 the Berlin Wall was demolished. On January 25, 2017 Trump gave the order to construct a wall along the Mexican border. A fragmented response to a divided world of walls. Of physical barriers, Of non-physical barricades. The Foundation is a work-in-progress, interactive performance which explores why we build walls. Some would say it is a how-to-build-your-own-wall guide.


Can a sheep laugh? What happens when it’s tickled? Is it still a tickle if they can’t fully feel it? Basically, can you tickle a sheep and how much are they really enjoying it?

Every morning Tim gets up and tickles himself relentlessly and unsuccessfully. He can’t make himself laugh so he’s started doing it to sheep on the daily. Sheep Nit is a scratch performance exploring the sensations and reactions of ‘a light touch’. Expect involuntary movement, consent and control, a hunger for human touch and the signs of feeling happy.


We all have roots, we think of them or not. People move around our little “global village “, have done it for the length of the human history, and for those who move away from their place of birth, family and familiar environment, those questions: who am I and where do I come from, what are my roots to keep me grounded in this turbulent world? arise a lot. There is not a standard answer to those, it can be sad, bad, hilarious and philosophical, anything. At the same time. What am I doing here? Well, shall we talk about this? It might create even more questions rather than answers. And hopefully some food for thought.


A gender-fluid LGBTQIA+ solo dance work taken from my experience of being a gay man with autism in recent years. One feels that homosexuals who also identify as ‘autistic’ feel socially unaccepted within the LGBT community not because of their sexual orientation, but their invisible disability.

This work is being supported from Ludus Dance through the ‘Occupied’ Associate Artist Scheme.


The performance explores the cultural disconnect with our bodies. While meditation apps and yoga retreats offer us a way to understand our emotional and physical state, we appear to be more and more alienated from the fleshy, felt fabric of our viscera as it moves us from work meeting, political news report, family gatherings and our lover’s beds.

Through the performance we reunite ourselves with our material being and share it with each other and the audience. The work moves from emphasising the materiality of bodies, to attempting to express the verbally inexpressible, what does illness feel like? What does it feel like to be physically invisible? Finally, the performers attempt to find the pleasure in having a body, how focus on our physicality can be liberating and radical.


What happens when a Japanese kid grows up with no role models that look at all like her? In the beginning woman was the sun is a 1 woman show that explores the immigrant experience and what it’s like to live in a country that does its best to very politely make you feel like an outsider. As Houmi Miura goes on a quest to find some badass Japanese female heroes from history to pin up as her new poster girls.


Not All Men is an autobiographical solo theatre show which challenges the concept of Toxic Masculinity and normative gender. Through stand up comedy, spoken word and song. Alex takes us through his life growing up a little differently. The nature of the piece was to look inwardly at my own gender in the hope it would paradoxically look outward. Masculinity is such a contested topic right now and this piece goes some way in challenging the stereotypes that men give ourselves and are labeled. It will question how we raise boys to be men and how society boxes them in to behave a certain way.


Plant Club transports their audience into their gardening safe haven, a place where friendship, absence, growth, suffering and loss become pertinent to the discussion. But most importantly, it is a place to refresh, reflect and relax. The performance pays careful attention to calmness in an otherwise chaotic world as it engages with a fulfilling relationship with nature. Horti(Culture) invites its audience on a journey through the four seasons, which reflects the three performers mental health over the past twelve months. Horti(Culture)’s sensory experience evokes a positive reminder about how important self-care is within today’s society.


Work It Out! is a live performance exploring motivation, exhaustion, motherhood and the female body. Krissi tries to find the energy to work out (exercise) whilst working things out: Both personal (how to be a mother, how to go to sleep) and political (gender pay gap, Grenfell Tower disaster, Shamima Begum’s citizenship). On stage, a guest performer joins her: A Personal (Arts) Trainer/Birthing Partner, who motivates her to perform.

Krissi draws upon language from The Body Coach whilst attempting to embody Kanye West’s ‘Work Out Plan’, to create her own motivational manifesto in this uninspiring political time. The piece is an exploration of wellbeing and wellness trends, about collective responsibility, about time and how we manage it, about what constitutes women’s work and ultimately, about not giving up.


A Pilgrimage for Sylvia, follows the final walk a woman makes, the absence and presence of a dead poet and an unanswered telephone call. This is a performance about obsession, the obsessive pursuit of following someone else’s footsteps contained in the streets of London. Within the depths of this obsessive pursuit Emmie begins to look for herself, within the story that she has created.

This lecture performance investigates how you both re-enact someone else’s history and how you document history and experiences you were not there to witness. During the performance the audience are confronted with the issues of how we remember absent figures and perform our own past.


The intention to build armour whilst simultaneously breaking it, creating systems in order to contextualize the action and physically exhaust. The performance is dogmatic, frustration and tension feature to create a narrative of isolation and exhaustion. These actions interpret my position in austerity Britain. Its naturally Political….The climate of Britain is addressed in an unbiased manner.


This body art performance presents the performers reaction to Brexit Britain through the artist’s identity journey. The piece not only explores the feelings of the performer through obvious life-based story-telling and verse, but also holds a suitable message regarding the current uncertain future of the artists due to the unknown effects of Brexit. Wearing a union jack dress the performer tells a story of how the dress relates to different ages and events in her life. She asks, “Do you like my dress?”


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