Semi-reality pilot show, commissioned by Harlow Happenings artist in residency programme, Harlow, Essex, November 2011 - August 2012
Conceived during a three month residency in Harlow, funded by Essex County Council, Volunteers uses the semi-reality show format to explore Harlow’s civic society. In contrast to the glossy artifice and focus on the social life of characters in semi-reality shows such as ‘The Only Way is Essex’, Volunteers centres on the local voluntary sector in Harlow, exploring the diversity of roles and people that make it up. From the real challenges that face volunteers in Harlow to the motivations that keep them going, the programme addresses the broader reality of the ‘Big Society’ in human terms. The story lines and scenarios that make up the pilot were developed with the volunteers, many of whom were ‘Big Society Award Winners’ in 2011, giving them the opportunity to represent the difficulties they face due to the reality of government spending cuts and austerity measures, behind the facade of this rhetorical ceremony.