The First Spark Radio Festival began in 2009 when we relaunched Soundart Radio under our new Community Radio Licence for South Devon after a couple of years as a student station for Dartington College of Arts.
We were interested in celebrating our rural location and the delights and challenges of producing radio art here. We wanted to engage with and question the multiple faiths of our local community and the sense of nostalgia for a farming heritage.
First Spark is part of a programme of work at the station around the sometimes-forgotten fire festivals of Beltane, Lammas, Samhain and Imbolc, as we seek to find new ways to celebrate these turning points of the year.
It seemed that Imbolc, which falls on 2nd February and is known as Candlemas in the Christian calendar, was particularly ripe for this. Imbolc marks the midway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, and is a time of the very earliest signs of Spring, small buds peeping up through the snow, or maybe just howling winter storms. It is the least appropriate time for any kind of cultural gathering and our events typically have a low turn out, though plenty of radio listeners.
So First Spark is the earliest sign of spring, but to us this also means the beginnings of new ideas, or a spark of electricity at the heart of a performance. New music, new ideas in radio, transmission art and electronic arts all seem to sit comfortably at Imbolc, and the theme grows richer and more interesting each year.
We generally make time for a live on air discussion. So far we have had Why Transmit? and Why Improvise? with artists responding to these questions in their own manner, and a room of people discussing the issue for a couple of hours. 2012's improvisation theme was also explored through live music and dance.
For 2013 we find ourselves in a post Leveson society, quietly reasserting Soundart Radio's original intention to not be 'the media'. We are not a team of trained journalists, we are a bunch of damaged and creative people, finding our own ways to tell the stories of our own lives. So First Spark 2013 has the subheading 'Alternatives to Journalism' as we explore many ways to tell the stories that cross our path or affect us from far away. There will be a one day event, various playlists, time set aside for a 24 hour radio installation if the right thing comes along, a discussion (called something like Why Report?) and, the bit we're most excited about, a competition for 1 minute radio documentaries.
Your radio documentary can be on any theme and told in any format, so long as it is audio only. It should be within a hair's breadth of 1 minute, and have a great title. It must be entirely your own work, though could be a reworking of something you have made before. You can enter as a team or as an individual. No other information (eg pictures, explanatory text) will be taken into account by the judges. The deadline is 5pm on Friday 18th January.
We'd really like to play them all on Soundart Radio during the first week of February, though anything that is in breech of our guidelines will not be broadcast. The winners (one over 18 yrs, one under) will be announced at the First Spark event on 2nd February 2013. More details on this to follow soon.
Happy recording! Do email us any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Post your audio submissions here: