Another empowering day of intelligent, thought-provoking open discussion… and a poetry reciting badger – only at D&D!
Session 5 – Empty Shop Theatre
A brilliant discussion which led to lots of easily obtainable action points. Lots of links to discussions that happened yesterday; particularly to the session entitled: Bristolians/city-dwellers: How Can We Share More With The Regions That Surround Us? (Link to the report from that session here: http://www.devotedanddisgruntled.com/events/devoted-disgruntled-12/reports/bristolianscity-dwellers-how-can-we-share-more-wit/
Key Action points:
- Help create a website which contains user-generated content about setting up and running pop-up venues.
- Establish a network to help each other and to tour work between venues.
The ABTT – Association of British Theatre Technicians
Free guide to non-conventional theatre spaces
Free safety guide for small venues: http://www.rusafe.org.uk/#download
ISAN – International Street Artists Network
Edinburgh Fringe Festival have a lot of documentation about setting up temporary venues, licensing, health and safety etc
- Learn council speak – speak to Local Authorities using terminology they understand – find language that’s not arts language i.e. Placemaker Activation
- Realise that it’s not about always climbing up the ladder and heading for a big producing house – remember that we should be proud to produce good small scale work and that we should accept our work is good and not make it into something it’s not just because its the “normal” way of doing things
- Take pride in the work that you do
- Create relationships with property developers, town centre teams and councils
- Don’t be put off by people telling you it won’t work
- Revitalise thinking about business use that highlights the work
- Holding more events across an area on one day attract more audiences than running different events over different days
- Work with an experienced project manager
- Social responsibility – Look at the larger impact of what you’re doing and understand the positive and negative connotations of doing this i.e. arts can help revitalise a city centre – but inevitably once that area is revitalised there is seen to be no longer a need for the art that helped it get there in the first place. Think about how the success of revitalising a city centre can impact on poorer areas of the city.
- Licensing: No licence unless selling alcohol and under 500 people. Toilets and fire exits denote audience sizes. PRS music licensing. Insurance.
Session 6 – Female Leaders In The Arts: A Norm Not A Niche
I joined this session part of the way through after butterflying around for a bit and catching snatches of other conversations along the way. To begin with I was the only male there which was daunting as a lot of the talk was about men – but also a really great experience for once to be in the minority. I purposely stayed at the edge of the circle for this one – mainly because I just wanted to listen and learn and quite frankly there are enough white, straight, middle class men talking all the time and making their voices heard and this session was not about me and my voice. It was an opportunity to listen and learn and see what I can do to help the situation and to really discover how the gender divide has effected women in the arts and in society in general. And it was incredibly eye-opening. Thank you to those present for being so open and honest and allowing me to observe. I’ve made a few notes that people raised during this conversation and I hope out of context they make sense (please do suggest better ways of wording things if they do not!).
- Self-empowerment – give yourselves permission to go for roles
- Gate keeping – other women in leadership roles bringing women up through
- Creating a new model of leadership which isn’t patriarchal
- Women to take responsibility for how women are viewed in the arts
- Women talking and advocating for each other – name dropping other women in conversations, twitter, interviews etc
- Leadership qualities – how to change the male orientated view of leadership so that it better represents women and their qualities
- Remembering that emotion is the sign of a strong leader and not a weakness
- Start empowerment through schools – governing boards – education
- Need to change the vocabulary that we use – not just in the arts but in everyday life as well
- Look at the Iceland model for equal rights of the mother
- Get rid of preconceived and deep rooted ideas of what a mother should be
- Equal childcare / paternity
- Why should women have to fight their way back into jobs from the bottom after having children?
- Change the culture of male language and put an end to questions such as “do you think you can deal with men” being asked in interviews to female only candidates
After this session I sat down and thought about everything I’d heard and discovered and one thing I’m going to do much more of is shouting about and name-checking the brilliant women that I work with or have conversations with. Especially on social media via my personal account and the Theatre Bath account. I’m also going to look very closely and the vocabulary I use and keep taking stock of how I say things to see if I can make them more gender-neutral. This discussion resonated and reverberated long after it finished so thank you again for letting me listen.
Session 7 – Making things easier to understand (or f**k art speak)
I accidentally wandered into this session and I’m so glad I did. Personally I hate jargon. It’s one of my massive bug bears. I work or have worked with a lot of large organisations that are full of acronyms and slang terms and I absolutely loathe it – just call things what they are and quit labelling them all the time. I also hate that we are expected to speak in cultural tongues in order for us to ascend the cultural leadership ladder. No! Just no! Talk proper like… :p
- Whatever we say or think – not everyone has internet access – not everyone is computer savvy
- Why do we rely on past success to sell shows? Are audiences really interested in some obscure production that someone they have never heard of by a company they don’t know has produced sometime in the past? Why not just write good copy about the actual show
- Some venues use Skype/Facetime to get artists appearing their to talk about their forthcoming work
- Realise the value of actual contact with artists creating the work
- Getting people who have been involved with or seen the “product” to advocate for it and help to write the copy for it
- Reconnect with why you are involved with a company. Why are you involved with doing the work? This shifts the ownership of the work.
- Use of the word “Artists” – has it become a dirty buzz word? Is there a certain snobbery or elitism associated with the word? Search for a title within the word that represents what it means to us as individuals
- Have a bullshit filter or a friend/colleague that can act as a bullshit filter to help us better describe our work
- Use the 25 words or less method of describing the show / work
Session 8 – Want to perform a show in Bath? What can we do to help?
I called this session to try and help connect people who want to perform in Bath with the right venues and organisations and to share what I know with anyone who was interested.
The key points that came from the discussion were that Bath and Bristol do have bubble and cliques that from the outside can be very hard to penetrate. Theatre Bath is going to look at how we can help with this including potentially re-starting our informal networking nights / tweetups so that people can meet with other theatre makers and get the advice/help/connections that they desperately need.
Also pointed out that there is very little scope for development of new work in Bath or showing of new work. So to address this we’re going to look at potentially starting scratch nights so that anyone wishing to show work and get feedback on it from audiences or other professionals locally have a platform from which to do this.
Closing Thoughts for Day 2
Usually at the end of D&D I feel exhausted and emotional. Today I felt empowered and ready to take on the world. The power of openspace and the ability to connect with so many people on an open playing field is empowering and beautiful.
I’ve spent the last two days walking around the space smiling at strangers, them smiling back and saying hello to lots of different people. I became very aware as I left the circle this evening and headed to catch a train that the feeling of open space didn’t exist in the world that I’d just stepped back into. The reality of walking up the approach to Temple Meads Station and for a moment forgetting that the people milling around me going about their daily lives don’t yet contain the open space magic that the rest of us get to take away with us. I forgot for a moment that if you smile at normal people sometimes they don’t react in the same way as they do in open space. I got some very weird looks from those loitering outside the station as I began adjusting back to the real world but still smiling madly at them. It just reminded me that we’ve got more work to do yet and that we need to spread the open space magic a little wider. Am I going to stop smiling madly at strangers… occasionally saying hello… not a bloody chance. We are all responsible for creating a change and being the change that we want to see in the world. Open space has again re-ignited something within me that I can now keep and take forward in a positive way and implement in the work that I do in the future. From small acorns grow mighty oaks and all that.
I can’t wait to see what the final day brings and I look forward to it with a heightened sense of optimism that things can change and be made better.
Contact / Social Media:
Theatre Bath Bus: @TheatreBus
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – email@example.com