COVID-19 and The People’s Palace of Possibility

Like many of us across the world, this spring all our plans fell apart. The first national tour of The People’s Palace of Possibility was all booked in and we were preparing to hit the go button. We had a dream team of artists and venues from the Highlands to London lined up. Then – things changed. Unprecedented, tragic for many, suffocating and isolating, with wide reaching and lasting repercussions for all of us.

As these changes ripple through society there has been a good deal of reflection on how we live. For many, as hard as this time has been, the thought of going back to ‘normal’ is also unacceptable. Within the theatre sector, and across society, demands for radical change are louder than ever. Things need to be different. Things need to be different. Things need to be different. Things need to be different.

For a long time we have been told that things cannot be different, that radical alternatives to the status quo are naïve, economic suicide or simply impossible. And, although the changes we’ve seen this year have been tragic and harrowing – they have also shown that change is very much possible. I am not saying that this could be understood as a silver lining to the horrors of this pandemic, there is something grotesque about describing a silver lining on a cloud so dark. But for worse, and perhaps for better, change is afoot.

…we have this capacity to – this amazing capacity to generate pictures of the future. Let that pull us forward rather than be stuck in the old stuff.

A Palace Citizen

The People’s Palace of Possibility is about dreaming up alternative futures. Audience members become Palace Citizens, tasked with radically re-imagining of the world. How could things be different? Do you feel more hope than fear, or more fear than hope? Why? If COVID-19 and its ramifications have shown us profound negative change, what might profound positive change look like?

All in all, within The Bare Project, we felt that the need for a Palace of Possibility was greater than ever just now. A Palace which would do democracy very differently than the one in Westminster. In this Palace, everyone can be a citizen. In this Palace, the most outlandish and surreal visions of the future can sit alongside practical policy suggestions – because we recognise that both play an important role in creating change. In this Palace, we build utopias, and recognise that a real utopia is never complete and needs constant tinkering. The People’s Palace of Possibility is a growing archive of visions, imaginings, fears and daydreams from people all over the country. At its heart is the belief that we need these visions for change, and that the exchange of these visions is a crucial part of democracy.

So, we decided to open the palace doors early. With the support of The Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity, Arts Council England, the Albany, James Blakey and The University of Keele, we will be reaching out to 120 new Palace Citizens in Sheffield, Doncaster and Deptford. These Citizens will receive a series of packages in the post, which unfurl the mysteries of the Palace, invite tiny acts of resistance and provide opportunities to contribute to the growing Palace Archive.

If you live in one of these places, we would love you to take part! If you have a Sheffield, Doncaster or Deptford/New Cross postcode and you would like to become a Palace Citizen, get in touch with us: Please note, there is limited availability and places will be offered on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis.

If you don’t live in these places, but want to be a part of this in the future, it will be back! Sign up to our mailing list here to be the first to hear about it. The Palace Archive will be available for anyone to view online from August, follow us on Instagram (@_thebareproject) or Twitter (@TheBareProject) to get the link when it goes live.

The Money Stuff


The Bare Project have received emergency funding from Arts Council England, which we are incredibly grateful for. As a company with no permanent staff, we are all freelancers surviving project-to-project, and without this funding we would not have been able to support all our creatives and associates through this crisis.

We are acutely aware that many deserving organisations did not receive funding when they needed it, and we desperately hope they are still able to exist on the other side. We appreciate the responsibility that comes with this grant, and are doing our best to use this money for good – to keep as many other local artists as we can afloat, to support an intern, to provide creative activity for communities and to enable our Artistic Director and Producer to continue to contribute to local talent development networks like Making Room, and social justice causes like the Sheffield Climate Alliance.

Inspired by the brilliant folk at Milk Presents, we have summarised below what we’ll be using the public money for, and would be really happy to answer any questions too – just email:

Total ACE emergency grant:


Our activity over the summer is costing significantly more than this – approximately £18,432 – but is also kindly supported by funding from The Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity and a research grant from The University of Keele.

This money will be spent on:

  • A contribution towards artist fees for The People’s Palace of Possibility summer mail-art project with communities in Sheffield, Doncaster and Deptford. We are supporting 9 artists, including several that lost summer work through one of our other planned projects being put on hold by the partner organisation:

days for our Artistic Director


days for our Company Producer


days for our Designer


days for our Web Designer


days for our Sound Designer


days for our Actor


days for our Writer


days for our Dramaturg


days for our Illustrator

At The Bare Project, everybody is paid the same: a day rate of £158 per day, in line with ITC Guidelines.

  • With financial support from Sheffield Hallam University, we will also be supporting a graduate intern to work with us on The People’s Palace of Possibility.
  • A contribution towards materials and postage for the project, which will cost approximately £4176 to engage 120 people over several weeks. This includes the cost of equipment for people who don’t have access to a smartphone (mp3 players, disposable cameras etc).
  • Web hosting, for the Palace website and for our company site.
  • Ongoing and new company overheads including our web and email accounts, Google Drive, Zoom license rental etc.
  • A small contribution to pay for our Artistic Director and Producer for approximately half a day a month to keep on top of company administration and attend city-wide and national networks and meetings.