opening new doors to the arts

Ramblin' On

current live performance

'Ramblin' On' sees two seasoned vagabond showmen, Mike Bettison and Gary 'Gacko' Bridgens, tramping around the countryside delivering a collection of songs, stunts and routines exploring the history and evolution of the ancient art of storytelling - from prehistoric cave paintings to the modern wonders of the internet.Read more...

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Who we work with

Here at Blaize we think team work is very important and love to get together with other organisations when working on new projects. Here are some of projects that have benefited from this approach.

Dance Across the North

Dance Across the North was a project we are successfully managed thanks to ACE’s Strategic Touring funding, and was a joint enterprise with Balbir Singh Dance Company. The year-long tour of dance around community centres, market places and small venues in the north is an example of how we plan to increase the number and range of people we work with. Our ambition was not only to programme excellent dance and music performances and workshops with Balbir’s company but also to bring the work to an extended audience, some of whom may not have attended events before. In addition to the public small scale events we worked with young people and linked flashmob events to public performances and the attendant workshops. The project engaged with many people across the North and we reached out to people outside the ‘highly engaged’ segments as defined in the ACE’s research. This project reported in 2017 and the film, short video, full evaluation report and summary report was shared extensively and contributed to the NRTF’s Rural Touring Dance Initiative 2.

Links to Canada and Touring Partners

Since 2000 Ellen Thorpe has worked with a group of touring scheme managers in a strategic alliance on joint projects, whereby we work co-operatively and share the responsibilities in order to benefit from the joint buying power to book artists that would otherwise be too expensive, thus sharing the workload and the risk. We tend to do this with artists visiting from Canada and wherever it is appropriate to joint book and create projects. Our on-going relationship with the Contact East showcasing event that rotates in the Maritime states of Canada is strong and mutually beneficial. We take it in turns to co-ordinate the visiting company’s tour across the North and into Shropshire and Herefordshire which involves Skyping, emailing and generally making all arrangements with the 9 individual schemes including: Arts Alive; Spot On; Cheshire Rural Touring Arts; Arts Out West; Highlights; LiveLincs and ArtERYlive.


Blaize are members of IETM, an international network for contemporary performing arts whose mission is to stimulate quality, development and promote contemporary performing arts in a global environment. IETM’s strength is in networking and communication. This resonates with Blaize’s own aims and we benefit from the network in examining our own practice. We actively engage with artists and companies within IETM who work in rural areas, leading sessions and delivering presentations. Blaize has been a member since it was established and have attended Plenary Meetings in Slovakia; Slovenia; Lithuania; Germany; Denmark; Croatia, Ireland, Greece; France; Bulgaria; Italy; Hungary; Netherlands and Portugal. Paula Horton Associate Artist is currently in discussion with companies from Italy and Sweden regarding prospects of joint project work. We champion rural touring and have demonstrable expertise in the practice and the theory. Through IETM we have been invited to international gatherings as experts in UK rural arts practice, attending 2 cultural exchange conferences in France and Tandem, Community & Participation Partnership Forum, Rotterdam. Blaize worked closely to develop a project with other European companies including Peer Group (NL), DasLetzte Kleinod (D) and 5eKwartier (NL), planning to develop a project with a strong rural agenda that will happen in all 3 countries. Mike Bettison has been involved in all planning meetings and joint applications for funding European funding with partners. With colleagues in the strategic alliance in the north we plan tours involving the best of artists from abroad, recently, New Zealand and Canada.  
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Our approach

We firmly believe that to get the best out of you, we have to give the best of ourselves. This approach has worked well for us over the years and we have found that our zest for creativity and fun tends to rub off on the groups we work with. Whenever we take on something new, we listen carefully to ensure we gain a good understanding of what each individual community needs. We are friendly and encouraging and have excellent organisational and project management skills which help us to manage a variety of projects successfully. We are also pretty good at networking. Here are some of the many organisations we have worked with over the years:

  • National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB),
  • Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust
  • The National Media Museum and the British Film Institute.
  • The Alzheimer’s Society
  • Many county councils
  • Yorkshire Dance
  • Get Moving
  • Community and Youth Services
  • CYC – Connecting Youth Culture
  • Rural Stress Information Network
Why do we do that? Well, we believe that much of our work feeds into and compliments the work of other organisations so we work together to produce the best results. We have built up an enviable little black book full of contacts and have a strong pool of artists to call upon whenever we need help. And we have developed links with the wider European community through our work. Have you heard of international network for contemporary performing arts (IETM)?  Well,  it’s a network for people and organisations like ours which has enabled us to form links with other organisations all over Europe. There is more info here  if you need it but basically the IETM does what it says on the tin. If you like the sound of what we do, call us on 01943 607030
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Who are we?

Welcome to Blaize! We know that if you are visiting this page you are curious to know more about us. So we are going to tell you about all the FUN we have here at Blaize! We are a good humoured bunch who love to see communities getting all fired up and creative. Our official title is 'community arts organisation' but we can already see your finger hovering over the escape button! So let's just say we like to meet people, inspire them and help them enjoy the lighter side of life. How do we do that? Easy! We bring the very best in quality theatre, music, dance, children's entertainment and comedy straight to your community. Which means you don't have to travel for miles to enjoy a good night out. We work nationally but mainly cover the north of England and are particularly active in isolated, rural communities where access to the arts may be limited. We have lots of contacts with talented and experienced performers who have toured all over the country so you can be guaranteed that whatever we deliver will be worth ditching a night in front of the telly for. Just search through our website and take a look at some of our work - it speaks for itself.


We don't just deliver fun. We also create it! Have you ever watched a film, a play or a dance routine and thought to yourself 'We could do that'? With our help you really can! We've seen teenagers cut their own CDs, helped a group of people with learning disabilities to produce their very own musical (complete with red carpet premiere) and encouraged patients with Alzheimer's to sing their heart out. We can work with any group that wants to create and loves a challenge, and can offer;
  • Workshops
  • Training
  • Guidance
  • Specialist equipment
  • Venues
  We've been doing this for thirty years now and thanks to Arts Council funding we've still got an appetite for more.      
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General Manager - Ellen Thorpe Artistic Director - Mike Bettison Associate Artistic Director - Jim Woodland Associate Artist - Paula Horton
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Paula J Horton - Associate Artist

Paula is a trained actor and has been involved with various television programmes like the TV hit drama 'Band of Gold', comedy 'Fat Friends' and crime drama 'This is Personal - The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper'. She has also appeared in both 'Coronation Street' and 'Emmerdale' and has travelled all over the country with various theatre companies. She has been Youth Theatre Director at professional learning disabled company Full Body and The Voice, and a panel teacher of dance and drama for Education Bradford. A Leading Artist on many projects, Paula has also choreographed and dance captained productions and she has worked on many summer schools as well as youth and community projects. Her down-to-earth and friendly approach means that people can’t help but join in the fun. Paula recently completed the Clore Leadership Short Course Programme and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.  She works closely with Ellen to help deliver all the magical projects Blaize has to offer.
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Ellen Thorpe - Director and General Manager

Ellen Thorpe - director and general manager

It's Ellen's job to make sure everything comes together smoothly here at Blaize. Ellen has many years' experience with responsibility for programming all Blaize work including the ArtERY rural touring scheme in East Yorkshire which she founded at the invitation of the Arts Council of England, Yorkshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire Council. She also programmes Cine North 'local' and is a trustee of Ilkley Literature Festival. She is a very busy woman, organising, seeking funding, commissioning work, and making lots of coffee and tea for everyone.
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Jim Woodland - Associate Artistic Director

Jim Woodland - Associate Artistic Director

Jim is the Associate Artistic Director here at Blaize, specialising in Video, Audio, Music and Drama, Workshops and Performance. As a film, media and communication studies graduate he worked for both the BBC and the Inner London Education Authority and now leads on all recorded projects working at the forefront of community video work. Jim is also a fully qualified Relate Councillor and Supervisor and a successful playwright and singer/songwriter and has quite a following for his musical work. Both Mike and Jim worked as street artists for many years.
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Mike Bettison - Artistic Director

Mike Bettison - Artistic Director

Mike is the Artistic Director of the company. As a founder member he has been working in community arts; performing, directing and producing, since the 1970’s. Mike has an in depth musical knowledge. He has worked as musical director with a number of companies, including: North Country Theatre, Major Road Theatre, Pocket Theatre plus Blaize/Charivari events. He is a professional musician and musical teacher and was a member of the band ‘Flowers & Frolics’. Mike also ran the Sidmouth arena concert programming.
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Contact Us

We do love to hear from you so please get in touch if you want any more information. Here's how   PLEASE NOTE: If you are looking for tickets to any shows taking place via ArtERY LIVE or Live Lincs: Click on TOURING. Find the show and scheme you are looking for (ie, Live Lincs, Les Borderliques or ArtERY Live, Eduardo Niebla) Here And here All relevant telephone numbers and listings will be on show within these categories.

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Arts Council of England

Welcome to Blaize! Blaize aims to make a positive contribution to our modern-day society and beyond. We believe that everyone should have access to the arts and live entertainment and we champion diversity in artists, performances and audiences. As a community arts organisation, we feel it is our responsibility to create a welcoming environment where the breadth and diversity of cultural expression is recognised, valued and celebrated. Which is why we deliver the very best of theatre, music, dance, and entertainment straight to YOUR community. With a little bit of work, we can transform your village hall into a top notch venue to rival the O2! We can also help YOU create something magical too. In order to achieve all this, we will proactively advance equality and inclusive practice in our staff recruitment processes, the work and artists we commission, and in the experience we offer to our audiences.
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    Getting in touch with us

    If you need to get in touch with us to find out about anything that we do, please use the contact form and we'll get back in touch with you as soon as possible