Here – at last! – is a long-overdue update for you on our progress, as well as an entreaty for your help as we enter the next stage of the Hedgespoken project. In this post, we’ve put our latest video update (the first since MAY!) and you can skip straight to that by clicking here – or you can read on and find out what’s been happening behind the scenes first…
Work has been continuing apace on the truck, as you can see in the attached photos, which were taken in November, and we’re delighted to have the exterior cladding (locally-grown Western Red Cedar) fully on now, and the thermafleece insulation and interior cladding and 12V electrics (thanks to Seth of Steward Community Woodland!) all done too. On Tuesday, we put the EPDM rubber roof-covering put on and we’re speeding towards having everything watertight before Christmas…
We are not yet in the truck, nor on the road, however. We had hoped that the build would be completed by now, but as seems now to be true of 99% of building projects (especially those run by people who have never run one before, building something that’s never been made before!) everything has taken longer than anticipated…
A few things are now going to be completed in the Spring of next year, in preparation for hitting the road in May when we’ll begin the storytelling and the shows – these are the glamming-up of the truck and the stage-preparations and so on. We’d hoped to do our first show this summer, or in the autumn at latest, but there we are. We are learning, slowly, to be flexible, to approach deadlines with a sense of aspiration, patience and humour…
The thorny issue is that because things have taken longer, the budget for Hedgespoken is looking different from our imagining of it this time last year. The short story is that we’re running out of money to complete the build…
Money’s tight. This is our situation: we need to pay for another two months’ work on the truck and to still have funds enough to buy a few last essentials before it’s fit to live in. Over the winter, we’ll be raising the money required to make the truck performance-ready. Sales of the Sometimes a Wild God book have been astonishing and have kept us afloat for now, and The Wayfarer’s Year calendar is flying off the shelves. We’ve also just launched the Hedgespoken Christmas Raffle and have been heartened by the response – there are already some fantastic prizes on offer, and I think we might have to add a few more.
As you might imagine, this is an awkward impasse – we’ve never run a project like this before, and Leo has never built anything like this before, so our cost estimates seemed generous enough to cover all eventualities. Uncomfortable territory, for sure. So, here is our situation:
How much do we need?
Our estimates, based on a break-down of costs and income still to come, are that we need to raise a further £5,000 to get the build finished, pay all the building wages and be ready to move in.
After that, book and calendar sales as well as a forthcoming Arts Council funding bid and another possible fundraising effort for developing the first show should see us good for the last push and the road-ready touches in the Spring such as painting the truck body, the final sign-writing and stage-lights and an engine service and so on, which we think will cost another £4,000-5,000.
At that point, we’ll be ready for our first season of Hedgespoken performances and events across the country. In the current world climate, projects with refugees are much on our mind – if we were on the road already, our thoughts would very much be on how we might help in Calais…
‘But, I thought you raised over £30,000!’
Yes, indeed. And so we did, and we’re still as amazed now as we were then.
Just in case there’s any doubt, we’ve not been using the crowdfunding money for living expenses during this last year – as promised, every penny is going towards the truck build. This year has been tough for us, though also full of joys – we’ve been learning how to be parents to our boy (now over nine months old) as well as facing major health problems for our own parents and moving out of our house and into a 16′ yurt. Tom is currently working at Source Point Community Acupuncture again, as well as running Hedgespoken Press and trying to keep the truck build on track. Rima’s learning how to create art with a feisty young boy on her back – this is a work in progress! We’re flat out trying to keep our heads above water and it’s not been easy, by any stretch of the imagination. But, we’re getting there!
Hedgespoken is a big project – we’re not only building a house, but a theatre, a travelling arts centre and a new life – and there are complexities to the design that will only become truly apparent in the goodness of time. The quality of the build means that Hedgespoken will stand the tests of time and weather well – at every stage, we’ve chosen to concentrate on the quality of the materials and construction so that this extraordinary creation really will be something that lasts. There are many ways of going about converting an old lorry into a home (let alone a theatre), and we’ve always regarded Hedgespoken as being more akin to a beautifully-crafted showmans’ wagon than any kind of quick bodged job. Although it feels awkward to have underestimated the time and funds that it would take, we’re proud to have got this far in creating such a remarkable thing.
‘What are you going to do?’
This is our plan:
Our main fundraising effort for this last, agonising stretch before we move in consists of three strands:
- We’ve just launched the Hedgespoken Winter Raffle – with some excellent prizes and cheap tickets for sale online, we hope to raise a substantial sum this way. Please spread the word!
- We’re also now selling Rima’s amazing perpetual calendar and wall frieze, The Wayfarer’s Year – it’s utterly beautiful.
- We’ll also continue to put the money raised by the Sometimes a Wild God book into the pot, as we have been doing so far – it’s selling well and continues to bring in vital funds. Poetry and art are currently building Hedgespoken, along with your generosity and belief in us.
‘How can I help?’
Our deep thanks go to those of you who have already helped us in so many ways, from helping our bank balance so that we can pay Leo and Sam, to coming and working on the truck when we needed your help, to providing us with a barn in which to work on the truck and living space while the work goes on (you know who you are), to keeping us going with your encouragement at difficult times and spreading the word about what we’re selling in the Hedgespoken Press shop. We will never forget the generosity of so many people over this last year and a bit – it has changed our lives, plain and simple.
If you are looking for ways to help us, then here are some ideas, all of which go towards getting Hedgespoken on the road :
- Make a donation now to our building fund if you can by clicking on the donate button below:
- Support the raffle by spreading the word and – of course – buying tickets…
- Buy books and calendars from the Hedgespoken shop – we’re now offering free postage in the UK for all orders over £25 and, as a thank you for reading this far, you can get a further 10% off the book and calendar by using the voucher code HEDGEWINTER10 at the checkout!
- Send us your enthusiasm by writing us an email: this last stretch is sometimes excruciating, as is so often the way with the birthing of an amazing thing, so your good words and wishes now mean more than ever…
‘And then what happens?’
If everything goes according to plan, we’ll hopefully be moving the truck out of the barn and getting it ready for its winter park-up by the end of January, then finishing the last of the internal woodwork and moving in some time in February, just in time to take a few deep breaths, dance a couple of jigs and give thanks and praise before we begin to prepare for the touring season and our first show, which we’re keenly excited about already!
This year has been a long haul – thanks for supporting us this far. Please help us if you can with this last push to get Hedgespoken weather-tight in time for Christmas!
From the moor-edge,
With appreciation and bright stars in the mist,
Tom, Rima and our boy.