Davy Jones' Locker
By turning local residents into concert promoters and living rooms into music venues, Ideas Test’s support for Davy Jones’ Locker is offering people the opportunity to experience live contemporary classical music from the comfort of the couch.
Ideas Test’s mission is to create opportunities for people to take part in arts and creativity in ways and places that feel comfortable to them.
The brainchild of ‘opera activist’ Tania Holland Williams, Davy Jones’ Locker echoes approaches being made by many organisations to take the arts out of traditional venues and in doing so break down some of the practical and perceived barriers to taking part.
Davy Jones’ Locker brings music by living composers into people’s living rooms, introducing some very unfamiliar music into spaces that are intimate, comfortable and a far cry from ‘an arts space’. Where the project differs from other attempts to engage audiences in non-traditional spaces however is that the marketing and promotion – securing an audience – for these living room concerts lies in the hands of the hosts themselves.
"We start with the premise that the concert hosts, aka armchair promoters, are the experts when it comes to communicating with their friends and neighbours. They know better than any marketing guru, the subtle nuances of phrase and invitation that will encourage their peers to come along and try."
Tania Holland Williams
Hosts are asked to ensure there are at least eight people in the audience, one of whom should be a neighbour that they’d like to get to know better and one who may not usually attend live music events. In this way, the community gets to know each other better and people are encouraged to try something new.
Having agreed to host a Davy Jones’ Locker concert in their home in Sheerness, Paul and Amanda Hoggins went to one of Tania’s performances at The Beaney Museum to see what they should expect. Having never experienced this kind of music before, they were left feeling shocked and anxious about hosting their own concert. Their anxieties however were unnecessary and the contrast between how they felt about the concert in the museum compared to the one hosted in their home is marked:
"I can honestly say that any doubts we had were wiped away both by the performances and the performers. The ease and charm with which Tania, Heledd and Eleanora introduced the pieces and then fielded the numerous questions that came their way broke down any barriers that might have existed. That intimacy brought a much greater understanding of the music. We're glad we took the plunge!" Paul, Host
What impact did the project have?
Ideas Test has supported a total of 25 Davy Jones’ Locker living room events, attracting more than 340 audience members, many of whom have never experienced an arts event before and certainly not a contemporary classical music concert.
Tania’s aim is for Davy Jones’ Locker to become a sustainable concert model in the mid to long term. With this in mind she has started asking audiences for donations, encouraging people to think about what they might normally be prepared to pay for such an event.
"We have been amazed and delighted to witness a very healthy response. It’s the biggest signal so far that there is an interested and committed audience for New Music."
Tania is keen to develop Davy Jones’ Locker for new audiences and has begun a conversation with the Royal Opera House Thurrock about the possibility of devising a programme for young people involving the ROH Thurrock youth choir, RM19. Other ideas in development include using a caravan to take the living room experience to festivals where Tania will invite people to sit down, have a cup of tea and a chat and listen to three different pieces of music in relation to their listening taste.