A theatre company that is helping to diversify the arts scene in Cumbria has been overwhelmed by the support it has received.

Whistling Crew Productions Company was set up in the wake of the Carlisle Fringe Festival last year to keep the passion and momentum for the arts alive in the city.

Directors of the company, Jack Ibbotson, Katharine Simmons, and Scott Wigglesworth, are eager to provide opportunities to people who feel underrepresented in the arts such as LGBT, BAME, or working class people.

Jack said: “We set ourselves up in the wake of the Fringe last year.

"We saw there was a lot passion and enthusiasm for the arts that wasn’t necessarily getting an outlet in Carlisle.

“There are a lot of theatre companies in Carlisle that only really cast people that they know which means that there isn’t as much opportunity for people.

“Especially when we have got a university that has got a huge wealth of student talent that graduated at the end of three years; they come out and there is nothing for them to do in Carlisle to get their opportunities."

They have recently issued a casting call for their production of Twelfth Night, which they are aiming to bring to the stage next summer.

Beyond performances, the group is hoping to set up a physical space in the city that filmmakers, photographers, and performers can use.

“People can use it for rehearsal spaces, for a studio; we’re looking to get people in like photographers and filmmakers, if they want to use it as a studio space,” said Jack.

Setting up a new company, let alone a theatre company, during the pandemic is challenging but Jack doesn’t see it as a wholly negative thing. If they aren’t able to physically perform in front of people, they are hoping to make use of technology such as Zoom.

“The challenge has been planning all of these things and not really knowing when we can do them. We wanted to have a good programme of projects that we can hit the ground running with as soon as things open up.

“It's been a unique raft of challenges that we have to deal with but we have seen them not as obstacles but as things we can use to test our resolve,” said Jack.

“We’re this passionate about the arts that we want it to continue and people need it.”