It was great being back at Devoted and Disgruntled and being surrounded by intelligent and interesting conversation and ideas about the theatre industry.
For those of you who don’t know what Devoted & Disgruntled is or who would like more information visit their website (where you can find reports on all the discussions happening there): http://www.devotedanddisgruntled.com/
As a bit of a preface to coming along today we have just learnt that B&NES Council are about to cut all Arts funding by 2020 and also we risk losing our library in Bath (or should I say it’s getting downsized to not much more than an internet cafe). So before coming to D&D today I attended the protest about that, but with the new information about Arts cuts weighing very heavily on my mind. So I was in a strange place. Fired up by the brilliant protest but despairing about the imminent and deadly cuts that were creeping upon us like a thick black depressing shadow, reaching out with its chilling hands to rip away the cultural heart from the city I love. Dramatic much?!?
So with that in mind I somewhat curled up into my introverted and contemplative protective shell and sat back and listened more than joining in with the discussions. Below are a few of notes and observations.
Session 1 – New Venue – How/What/When Licensing
This was a really interesting session which featured a range of experience of setting up and running venues. I forget the openness and the willingness of people to share best practices and advice. D&D really enables these discussions to happen on an equal playing field.
We discussed everything from finding audiences / users of the space to setting up boards, legislation, subscriptions and everything in between. Below are a few quotes and notes.
“Sweat Equity – Time Banking” – doesn’t always have to be a financial arrangement for using spaces
“No group is too small to be contacted about using the space – go everywhere in the community and talk to everyone”
“Always have a brand leader”
“Make sure it’s the right space for the right show”
Important question – “Why are you actually doing it? Why are you setting up the venue”
This leads on to forming mission statements and business plans.
Artistic Policy = Soul of the venue
Trustees – get them to buy in to your vision. They don’t have to donate financially but they should benefit the organisation.
Create really good art and build a family of support around you.
Session 2 -How Can We Help Straight, White, Middle Class, Able-Bodied, Cis Men Know They Are The Minority And The Not The Norm?
Stella Duffy called this session and it was great to be able to sit and listen to the items discussed and how we can all help be part of the change that needs to happen. As someone who ticks most of the boxes for the title of this discussion I wanted to know what more I can do and I felt that this discussion has helped open my eyes to a few more areas that I possibly wouldn’t have considered before.
Some of my favourite quotes were:
Diversity – the Highlander effect. Everyone is fighting for power and to see who can be the most powerful by going around chopping the heads off of others and taking their power.
“By empowering others you gain power by power growing”
And my absolute favourite quote of the day from Stella herself:
“If men are manspreading – start C**t spreading.”
Session 3 – Collaborate to support Bristol Artists making new work
I have to say I left this session part of the way through when it was made very clear that Bath organisations weren’t particularly welcome to collaborate here. Which is a real shame as our doors are open to Bristol artists and we would love to work with you. Is this the infamous Bath/Bristol divide in action again?
What became abundantly clear though was the feeling of elitism and hierarchy within Bristol that was leaving some Bristol artists feeling excluded from “the club” and left looking in from outside the bubble. This was discussed at some length with talk of gatekeepers and allowing entry and then curation of that entry.
A brilliant idea was raised which was the most simple and effective idea of all that Theatre Bath has used to great effect – although the idea seemed to be somewhat dismissed. What artists need is space to talk and to meet with people running the venues in and around the city. This just means opening up one of the spaces and getting the right people there and allowing conversations and networking to happen. We used to run Tweetups which were informal meetings at a pub where anyone with an interest in theatre would show up, share ideas and ask for help. From these sessions connections were made by companies with local theatres and practitioners which then led on to those companies being able to take their work into the venues and stage it. And all we did was to arrange a time for people to meet with the right people and enable this to happen. It truly is the simplest thing in the world to do and I hope someone grabs the idea and runs with it.
For any Bristol artists reading this if you want to bring a show to Bath get in touch and I will put you in touch with the right people at the right venues. I will help promote your show via the Theatre Bath website and I will also put you in touch with people who know about flyer distribution and marketing of shows in Bath. We welcome you with open arms and will do everything we can to help support you and your work. Drop us an email: email@example.com
Session 4 – Bristolian / City Dwellers – how can we share more with the regions that surround us
This was an inspired session discussing creating a smaller inner-cities version of the Rural Touring framework to help link venues from the outskirts and regions together.
A few key points:
“Neighbours not community” i.e. people that pass us by on the way to work.
Collaborating more with tours to surrounding areas. Creating satellite suburb towns.
The power of rural touring is word of mouth – value of audience from communities spreading the word about shows. How can we capitalise on this free publicity? Longer runs of work?
Transport to venues for audiences and practitioners a real issue to regions. Lobby to help change this and get councils etc to see the importance of good transport links.
Day 1 Conclusion
A real mixed bag. I’m exhausted. I’m inspired. I’m definitely fired-up for day 2.
See you tomorrow!
Contact / Social Media:
Theatre Bath Bus: @TheatreBus
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – email@example.com