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Not half baked

Social startup Homebaked, a neighbourhood bakery which won the Cambridge Social Innovation Prize, inspired a ‘brick by brick and loaf by loaf’ musical at the Royal Court theatre in Liverpool.

A selection of freshly baked loaves.

Homebaked, a social enterprise startup that won the Cambridge Social Innovation Prize, has inspired a musical production that was showcased in Liverpool. The prize is organised by Trinity Hall and the Centre for Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School.

The musical, which ran in Liverpool’s Royal Court theatre 19-23 October, is based around the Liverpool-based cooperative bakery Homebaked, which “is regenerating the high street “brick by brick and loaf by loaf,” according to the 2020 Social Innovation Prize citation. The award came with a £10,000 grant and advice from experts at the University of Cambridge.

The theatre production is composed by Boff Whalley, lead guitarist of the former rock band Chumbawamba, which was famous for the song “Tubthumping” and for an incident at the 1998 Brit Awards for music in which another band member dumped a jug of water over the head of then-Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

The musical is directed by Rod Dixon of theatre company Red Ladder, and tells a story “of hard work, hope and pies (mainly pies to be honest).”

“What started with a half-baked idea rose and peaked until it had spawned a thriving community business with plans to transform the adjacent terrace into environmentally sustainable, quality homes and commercial spaces with affordable rent. Is it really possible? A piece of cake,” according to the Royal Court’s website. “This is a Liverpool story that needs to be celebrated.”

“They didn’t just want the loaf, they wanted the whole bakery. They didn’t just want the bakery, they wanted the whole street.”

The bakery is located opposite Liverpool FC’s Anfield stadium and is famous across Merseyside and beyond for its award-winning pies. The founders took over a local neighbourhood bakery to save it from demolition in 2012, and it has since grown into a thriving business and community space with over 30 active volunteers and 20 staff members.

Director Rod Dixon says he is a Liverpool football supporter, and knew about the bakery from buying prematch pies.

“I knew I wanted to make a piece of theatre about the power of community to combat poverty – the idea that we can rise above austerity and we can be anti-capitalist in our business so that many benefit rather the few. Homebaked is the perfect story of community-led entrepreneurs doing good business to help the vulnerable rather than exploiting them.”