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Friday, 2 December 2022

Social Justice Commitments

Since the summer of 2020, the team at Third Angel have individually and collectively been listening, learning and reflecting on how racism continues to impact upon our sector and our society, and the role that we can play in making positive change. These conversations have largely been taking place behind the scenes, and it is time we started to share where our learning has taken us and how we see this work continuing.

During this time, we have received training from brap and MA Consultancy; explored the Race at Work Charter, Race Equality Code and Inc Arts Unlock toolkit; established an Equity Working Group led by our trustees; reviewed and updated all of our recruitment paperwork and processes for both staff and trustees; appointed four new trustees bringing new perspectives into our decision making; given time to thinking about and discussing the role we want to play when others in our sector experience discrimination and injustice, and how we can learn from the mistakes of other organisations.

Our conversations around racial equity have inevitably led to us thinking more about the experiences of people with other marginalised identities: those who are d/Deaf or disabled, or who identify as LGBTQ+. So although our focus over the last two years has very much been on issues of race, the outcome has been a sharpening and refocusing of the company’s values and beliefs around social justice as a whole. The first step that we are going take in communicating our journey is to share our Social Justice Commitments

This statement reflects a shift in our approach. We understand that striving for equality or equal opportunities is not sufficient to make the changes we believe are needed in society, we need to step up and challenge the structures that uphold racism and other forms of oppression. This means striving for equity, advocating for social justice and taking specific actions on our journey to being an anti-racist, disability and neurodiversity positive, and trans-inclusive organisation. We are taking, and will continue to take, time to read, listen, learn and digest the experiences and knowledge of those whose experiences are different to ours. This is a long term commitment to change, for our organisation, our leadership and our practice.

We welcome your feedback and invite you to hold us to account on these commitments as we continue to learn.



·      to be an anti-racist organisation – this is an active position that requires us to take action to dismantle the structures that uphold racism and is different to being passively ‘not racist’

·      to be disability / neurodiversity positive

·      to create welcoming inclusive spaces, where people feel safe to be their authentic selves, where conversations about race and other aspects of identity are normalised and encouraged, and where everyone feels able to ask for what they need in order to do their best work

·      to send a clear message about who is welcome in our organisation

·      to have a wider range of perspectives and experiences in our discussions and decision making

·      to understand what we might be doing (or not doing) that could make some people feel as though our work / our organisation is not for them

·      to approach our work that is targeted at marginalised or underrepresented groups in a way that is ‘with not for’, prioritising co-production / collaboration in the design and delivery of activities


·      reflect on whose voices we are amplifying and why

·      identify the places and times where we need to slow down, interrogate our biases and structural advantages, and be mindful and honest about the reasons behind the decisions that we make

·      create more opportunities to work with people with global majority heritage as peers and mentors, rather than as recipients of services

·      create regular opportunities to hold each other to account

·      ensure that no-one is made to feel that their contribution or presence is tokenistic, or that they are being expected to be representative of anyone other than themselves

·      seek feedback from a wider range of sources about how we present ourselves / who feels included or excluded by our presentation


·      that we will need to take more risks than we are comfortable with

·      that we are sometimes going to get things wrong and be honest and transparent when this happens

·      that this may be disruptive to our normal working practice, but that long term genuine change will take time and hard work

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Watching the Detectives (again)

I’m really pleased to have a set of ‘artists pages’ in the latest edition of the journal Performance Research: Undercover (Volume 26, Issue 8)

Watching the Detectives is a case file, documenting our research into The Department of Distractions, through the show of the same name, its forerunner O Grande Livro dos Pequenos Detalhes (The Great Book of Tiny Details) and the sequel play-at-home-game, The Distraction Agents(It takes its name of course from both the Elvis Costello song, and a previous blogpost about The Department of Distractions).

Particular thanks to Fraser Stevens and James Harding for commissioning the piece, and to Becci Curtis for sterling support as always. And thanks to the support of Leeds Beckett University,Watching the Detectives is available as a free download here.

The final run of The Distraction Agents is available now, to play yourself or send as a gift! Click here for more information.

Thursday, 20 October 2022

Jim McDonnell

It is with great sadness that we share the news that one of our Trustees, Jim McDonnell, has passed away. He had been seriously ill for the last few months and died on the morning of Monday 26 September. We’ve been told he went the way he lived, with quiet grace.

Jim was a Legal Director at DLA Piper Global Law Firm, specialising in intellectual property. He brought this expertise as a Trustee and had been part of the Third Angel family since June 2018. So, obviously Jim had a mean eye for contracts. He had an enquiring mind, would drill down on various points during board meetings and hold us to account. He always did this with good humour. He was firm but fair, honest but kind.

However, Jim was much more than a Trustee, he was a dear friend and he has left a big hole in our hearts. He had a dry sense of humour, with a twinkle in his eye. Playing any kind of strategic board game (he loved playing games, so fitted in very well at Third Angel) was almost impossible, as you knew you were doomed to lose. He was always one step ahead and had the whole thing figured out while you were still trying to work out what was going on.

He leaves behind his wife Laura, whom he loved very much, their cat Fran, and whole host of friends.

We will miss him hugely, of course as a diligent and always supportive Trustee who gave such valuable input and expertise, but more because he was so much fun to spend time with. 
Jess O’Neill, Trustee, Vice-Chair
Jim was a dedicated Trustee, always inputting his ideas to the charity during meetings and on the Staff & Trustee Away Days. But more than just a Trustee in meetings, Jim was a pleasure to socialise with on the annual Third Angel Christmas Parties, especially having fun and playing games together at the Board Game Cafe. I will remember Jim’s jokes, his laugh, and his kindness in supporting others and the team. 
Sarah Sharpe, Trustee

We will miss you Jim, your final bow was far too soon.


Friday, 7 October 2022

Meet Abi, Future Makers Photographer

If you’ve been following our social media closely you might recognise some of the images below. We’ve been keen to get some pictures of our Future Makers theatre workshops in action, but there’s rarely time to think about the finer points of lighting and framing in between facilitating the activity. So we were lucky to bring Abi Ward on as Residential Photographer for the sessions in Spring. The photographs are of such quality and quantity, we’ve been using them for all kinds of posts!
Abi’s headed of to university soon, so we wanted to invite her to share her experiences before moving on…

Jon Fry, Projects & Communications Co-ordinator 

Hiya, I’m Abi, a Sheffield based photographer, and I was the Residential Photographer for Future Makers. 

Working with the Future Makers project has been such an enjoyable and lovely experience! When I first started coming to the sessions I was still at college and quite new to the photography industry. Previously I had been Social Media Manager for Sculpt Community, volunteered for FURD, and done photography for weddings, headshots, and local gyms.

A family gathered outside with a young performer dressed in camouflaged clothes

I have always been a creative person and enjoy being part of anything creative, so I think that is what first attracted me to being part of Future Makers. I first found out about Future Makers from a family member who got me in touch with Stacey. I then came along to a session in March where I got to meet everyone and they were all so welcoming. Usually when I am at an event or session like this almost everyone becomes super aware of the camera and I notice people trying to subtly pose, or they seem to stare a lot and watch for the camera coming in their direction. However, the kids at the session were unfazed which I enjoyed seeing as it allowed me to capture candid photos of the kids and session leaders interacting with each other. 

This is probably what I enjoy most about photography, being able to capture those natural moments we often miss or don’t notice. From there I was asked to come back for more sessions till the end of the project which I was very thankful for. Although I wasn’t there for every session, I still got to see how the kids changed and grew as they developed their work. I enjoy being on the sidelines and being able to capture those special moments and the journeys that people go through.

5 young people sat on a climbing wall, laughing at something in the distance

Previously, I hadn’t really had any jobs like this. Mainly I had experience in more editorial photography and sports. This was quite different as I found myself having to look at the wider picture as well as the small details. There was often a lot going on in the sessions and capturing this was always fun, but also quite different as it meant having to get all that was going on in one shot. Working as Residential Photographer for these sessions has really taught me a lot technically but has also helped me expand my experiences, as before I had only really worked with adults or people my age. This wasn’t that much different but definitely gave me a new perspective when taking photos as I wanted to capture the kids’ personalities the best I could. 

11 young people sat and stood against a wall of graffiti, the logo for "Future Makers S7" at the centre

In the past I have really enjoyed working with community projects and being able to capture the amazing work that they do and it was great to be able to do this for the Future Makers project - which makes me sad to go! Although I have a long way to go on my photography journey as I leave for university, the Future Makers project has really helped me develop my passion for this type of work and working in my local community.

(UPDATE Jan 2023 -  We are not currently looking for new trustees.)

People. Places. Performance.

Do you want to change people’s minds about what theatre can be?

Third Angel is a theatre company led by founding Artistic Directors Rachael Walton and Alexander Kelly. We make shows and participatory events that tell stories, ask questions and invite conversations. We aim to create collective experiences that reflect and interrogate the ways in which we live in the world that surrounds us, now and in the future. We believe everyone should be able to access the arts and are committed to trying to break down the barriers, whatever they may be.

Future Makers 11 Session 4 - credit Abi Ward

Young People creating a performance as part of Future Makers S7 2022 - photo Abi Ward

Our values guide our decision making and how we operate and work with others. Third Angel is:

  • Innovative and experimental
  • Playful
  • Collaborative
  • Open and transparent
  • Trusting
  • Inclusive, accessible and anti-racist
  • Socially and environmentally responsible

We are looking to recruit two new trustees who will champion our values and bring different perspectives, skills and life experiences to our Board. We are committed to having a broad range of voices at the top of our organisation – different ages, different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, D/deaf and disabled voices, LGBTQ+ voices – to ensure that our strategic thinking and decision making remain creative, lively and balanced.

No previous Board experience is necessary, as training and support will be given where needed. 

The Desire Paths Slough Nisha and Gillian - Credit Terry Payman

Nisha Anil & Gillian Lees working on the Slough Desire Paths’ Map 2019 - Photography Terry Payman

We are looking for:

» People with good financial management skills
» Community leaders and advocates, particularly those with connections to Sharrow & Nether Edge (S7)
» Marketing, communications or public relations (PR) professionals
» Leaders or influencers in the arts sector

Please contact for more details about the role or an informal chat.

Thursday, 4 August 2022

Liliya Signing Off

As Future Makers S7 (2021-22) draws to a close with the end of term, so does Liliya’s time with us. Back in October we were very happy to welcome her into the newly created role of Trainee Community Producer, which was made possible by the government’s Kickstart Scheme. When this finished after six months we offered her a freelance part-time contract, so she could see through the projects she was involved in.
It’s been great having her as part of our Third Angel family and we will be sad to see her go. We’ll miss her fabulously bright trousers, explosive and catching laugh, enthusiasm, and especially her weekly video diaries (all of which have now been compiled into two longer videos - see bottom of this post!)
We’ll still be at the end of the phone, emailing news of jobs and following her future travels.
So over to Liliya as she reflects on her time with us and lets you know what’s coming next.

Rachael Walton, Co-Artistic Director & CEO

A professional headshot of Liliya

Oh me, oh my!

As much as everyone in the office has been talking about and planning a leaving social in July over the last few months, it still feels surreal to be writing my leaving post for Third Angel. Looking back at my introductory blog post it feels like I’m reading into somebody else’s mind entirely. Now, nine months on, I feel more like myself than I have in quite some time: more open, more grounded and more confident in myself. I can undoubtedly say that being a part of the Third Angel team has played a turning point in how I witness my own capacity and capability, and the value I have as a human being, let alone in a professional or creative setting.

Liliya performing on stage, looking off to the distance

There have been many moments during my time as a Trainee Community Producer which have been full of illumination, joy, and heart-warmth both inside and out of the office:

- I can’t miss out the final performance of the Future Makers participants (just how much energy they all brought to that show!) and all the feedback from friends and family expressing their gratitude for the opportunity we worked to facilitate for the young people was especially tear-jerking. 

- I’ve found our collaborations with Side by Side especially moving, and profound, and mind-opening in how I make space for, lead and create with others. I’m hoping to continue my relationship with Johanna and the group after my time with Third Angel ends!

A feedback form written in blue ink: I really love our Third Angel drama club. So encouraging. We share feelings, emotions, performance together. We have fun together. We are shining our life. Keep happy. Smiling face. Kisses. Autumn 2021. 

- I will be endlessly grateful for all the encouragement and mindful reminders/perspective shifts I was given (I’m sure Rachael alone can attest to a ridiculous number of times she’s had to stop me from being too self-critical of my Video Diaries). 

An accidental selfie of Liliya in the office, frowning 

As I wrote in my intro blog post, I came into this position holding very high standards over myself, which I’ve had to address and begin to soften during my time with Third Angel. Then there was the disruption that Covid brought in the winter, where I had a steep learning curve of how to work from home which proved to be more challenging and stress-inducing than I had thought. Most recently, after extending my position by three months I’ve had to quickly adjust and learn what it means to be a freelancer: from managing my workload and working to flexible hours, to how to invoice! So it’s definitely not been a smooth ride, but I’m happy I learned so much about myself through the work I’ve done along the way. 

Flash cards of words in different languages laid out on the floor

Even with these difficulties and through some personally emotional points in my placement, the team was overwhelmingly understanding, supportive and flexible. All the shared snacks (i.e. delicious and suspiciously addictive vegan cupcakes), teas-and perhaps a few too many coffees-brewed, and wisdoms shared in car rides or spoken over laptops throughout the past few months have filled me with so much warmth. The relationships I have made with each member of staff over my time have been very precious to me, and I know I’ll look back on my time with Third Angel with love and gratitude.

Of course, I’ll miss everyone in the team and [insert any other leaving cliché saying here]. Luckily, I don’t get to say farewell permanently yet, as I’ve become an observer of the board for a year to help me get to grips with how a board of a company functions before I move to Australia next year! I’m excited to hear how the company grows, and how their ideas become incredible projects and to still see familiar faces from a more distanced role over the next glimpse of time.

It’s not a goodbye, it’s a see you very soon, 


Liliya sat on a very small chair, surrounded by confetti

Lililya’s Diary Compilation Part 1

Lililya’s Diary Compilation Part 2

Thursday, 28 July 2022

A Bittersweet Farewell

We’re finally saying goodbye to our ‘intern who stayed’, Sam Turner, who’s been with the company almost as long as I have! We’ve been so grateful for Sam’s Little Miss Sunshine presence in our office and on our screens through what has been a VERY unusual 3 years, and we’re really excited for her new adventures as she moves on from the team. So over to Sam, for her final post. 

Laura Holmes, Exec Director

Throwback to March 2019 - I had just started Third Angel’s Administration and Production Assistant Internship. I was pretty much fresh out of The University of Sheffield, stage managing productions and spending most of my time at Theatre Deli across the road from Third Angel HQ.

A mug with Little Miss Sunshine, by Roger Hargreaves

My favourite mug in the Third Angel office

The internship appealed to me to develop my skills across many areas integral to working in the arts:

Co-ordinating creative projects
Collaborating with artists
Working with venues
Working closely with a small team

Posters for the play The Department of Distractions, four office workers with serious expressions

The Department of Distractions tour - ARC (in Stockton) in early 2020

My highlight was managing the Future Makers ’20 programme (free creative workshops for young people in Sheffield), when I had the opportunity to apply most of the above and more. The team gave me ownership of the project, trusted and advised me when needed and it was a great success until the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020 (I couldn’t write a blog post about the last few years without mentioning it…)

A young man in silhouette

Future Makers ‘20 programme - Cinematography Workshop (Theatre Deli in Sheffield - photo taken by Smart Banda)

The arts sector, like many others, has faced immense challenges over the last few years. The team stayed strong through:

Cancelled projects
National lockdowns
Working from home
Hours on Zoom
Outdoor meetings
Periods of uncertainty
Sudden change
Lots of rethinking
And repeat…

The pandemic presented a new opportunity to work on a (thoroughly risk-assessed) film shoot to create The Distraction Agents (an interactive puzzle game for audiences to enjoy from home) and I developed professionally and personally during each lockdown through coaching, reading, walking, listening and thinking (and baking).

My role with the team has evolved to now (July 2022) as my time with Third Angel draws to an end as their Production & Marketing Administrator.

A camera setup in an empty warehouse

A very chilly The Distraction Agents Film Shoot (Kollider in Sheffield) - December 2020

The company is back in full swing! Alex has just taken The Desire Paths down to Plymouth, our Future Makers S7 programme is running in Nether Edge (my neighbourhood) and the company is growing and thriving as I hand over my responsibilities and top tips to Jon - the new Projects & Communications Co-ordinator.

I’ve developed confidence
Learnt about myself
Exceeded my own expectations of myself
Made lifelong friends
Excelled in surprising areas
Discovered the things I enjoy (and the things I don’t)
Had many laughs and some tears along the way
Created space to reflect and grow

Above all else, over the last few years I’ve learnt to be resilient and consider my values. Nothing feels more important to me than looking after myself, feeling good, feeling strong and doing the things I enjoy. With this in mind, last year I made the exciting (and slightly scary) decision to pursue another of my passions in becoming a Personal Trainer - to help others to do the same.

Fear not, Sheffield’s vibrant arts scene hasn’t seen the last of me yet… you’ll see me covered in glitter with Andro & Eve at the iconic The Leadmill at the end of July and working behind the scenes to set up Theatre Deli’s new Sheffield space before I travel across the world to Bali (Indonesia) with my partner for a few months in September.

A table covered in teal green cups and saucers

Partus cups - work experience with Third Angel in 2016 (Sheffield Theatres Studio)

My time in Sheffield is coming to a bittersweet end to move (back) down South later in the year to be closer to family and friends. I’m feeling ready to move on and very excited to see what my future holds in the arts world and beyond.

I’ve developed skills for life in my roles with Third Angel to apply to whatever I decide to do next. I’ll always treasure my time with the team.

A small potted plant on a windowsill, with the inscription "Thank you for helping me grow"

Thank you for helping me grow


For those who don’t yet know me, my name is Rob (you can read more about who I am and what I do here). In essence, I am a ‘resident scholar’ with Third Angel, but more like a house-mouse than a permanent lodger… I dip in and out of Third Angel’s archive, shadow the team at events and meetings, as well as having had the privilege of ‘sitting in’ on rehearsals and mentoring sessions.

My research explores if, when and how longevity in contemporary arts practice is achievable, and the challenges, risks and values attached to this. In mid-late 2021, in a world of vaccine passes and mask-wearing, I had the amazing opportunity to represent both Third Angel and my University overseas. My scholarship is funded by the White Rose College (WRoCAH) who made this possible: I spent 3 months working with the National Cultural Fund of Bulgaria in their base in the capital city, Sofia. While there I wrote a series of diary/blog posts that, I think, are useful to share here as a document of a moment-in-time, of an (international) arts ecology recovering from a unique and shared crisis. I would like to share them with you here, followed by a short reflection: 

Despatch #1 (sometime in early September ’21)

In an office above the Socialist Art Museum, Bulgaria’s ‘National Cultural Fund’ is never too far from reminders of its history. A country that is still working to decentralise its cultural sector as a post-communist Republic, Bulgaria is redefining itself both as part of a Western European capitalist tradition, and simultaneously working to protect and promote its cultural heritage as uniquely ‘Balkan’ (still very much reconnecting with its pre-Ottoman heritage, for those that know your history). Now in receipt of vast amounts of European Covid-relief funding, Bulgaria’s Cultural Fund is navigating its own domestic function as an ‘arm’s length’ support structure (operating as a democratic buffer between the state and its cultural sector), and is looking dubiously ahead to a time when these levels of funding will, inevitably, become unsustainable…

My three-month project involves researching and writing a comparative study of the Bulgarian arts funding situation, with ‘best-practice’ recommendations from British, Central and Northern European contexts. I have been living and working here in the capital, Sofia, for a few weeks now and highly recommend it as a place to visit!

Photo Rob Fellman

Despatch #2 (sometime in early October ‘21)

A few weeks on from the last despatch and I find myself further embroiled in the complexities of an Arts Sector that varies greatly from what I know of my own… It turns out (perhaps unsurprisingly) that making a comparative study between national approaches to cultural policy (across Europe) is VERY complex: it is near-impossible to make any useful comparison without first considering the history of each nation and/or region… I have been thrust into a world of research that I couldn’t have even imagined before starting this project, and I am really enjoying the process of seeing where it will take me next!

I have also just begun a series of interviews with local artists and grassroots theatre-makers, and every conversation opens up a whole array of new questions (and not to mention meeting some fantastic people and making new personal connections). 

Despatch #3 (sometime in early November ‘21)

My time with Bulgaria’s ‘National Cultural Fund’ is soon coming to an end. As I am pulling together the final details for my report I wonder what impact it might make? Just yesterday I was looking through an Arts Council England document from 2018 in which arts organisations voted ‘natural disaster’ as only 12% ‘risky’ on a ‘level-of-risk-to-the-sector’ scale, compared to ‘financial risk’ at 90%… No-one could have seen what was coming, even back then when words like ‘resilience’ and ‘sustainability’ were already the hot topics across the UK arts sector. As financial stability becomes intrinsically linked to our ability to survive natural crises like Covid-19 perhaps now is the perfect time for cultural sectors around Europe to rethink their current practices, to seize the moment of change and harness it for the better…

From speaking with a cross-section of art-makers in Bulgaria, there is a sense of positivity, despite the horrors that the pandemic has brought with it. As I finalise my report to the NCF, I struggle to say everything that (I believe) needs to be said. I am wrestling with the scope that I have set for myself and, despite my line-manager’s encouragements, I’m struggling to narrow my focus. What I realise, and commit to on paper here as advice, is that one report can’t change everything. This is easy to say, but harder to acknowledge in practice! What my report can do, however, is to capture the energies and emotions of the sector, to present data in a way that tells a story…

Ivan Vazov National Theatre, Sofia

In Summary

I think what this process (and reading the posts back now in June of ‘22) brings to light is the shared experience that a global crisis can instil. Even as I write this and our friends in Ukraine are at the forefront of another crisis that has united much of Europe and its allies (100 days in at the time of writing). Certainly, it changes the weight of words like ‘sustainability’, or ‘resilience’. Thinking now about the positive energies I witnessed (and felt) among the grassroots contemporary theatre-makers in Bulgaria last year has made me a little sad back on ‘home turf’ – only a week or so ago minister Rees-Mogg proposed cuts that would all-but-remove any ‘arm’s length’ structure of arts support in the UK. Where Bulgaria’s NCF are looking to learn from the systems around Europe, the UK is furthering a trajectory that will see instead a dismantling of ideals we have, perhaps, taken for granted. As Covid and Ukraine have shown, it is through networks of support that longevity may be possible; important to consider now as a whole arts ecology, how an already-precarious sector can continue to thrive despite collective and increasingly globalised crises.

As we move towards the warmer months, I plan to spend some time once again in Third Angel’s archive, as I attempt to draw more links between their past and present, their ability to ‘weather the storm’ of different crises, and for inspiration that might help us understand this term, longevity, a little better. I plan to keep you updated on this blog with some of my findings! If you are interested in keeping a closer eye on what I am up to, you can find me on Twitter @Rob_Fellman so please do feel free to connect with me on there.

There's lots more information about making and touring Third Angel projects 2008-2017 on our original blog, and 2017-2023 on the blog on this site.