Worcestershire Arts Partnership Blog

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

OPEN SPACE – Wednesday 17th July 2013

OPEN SPACE – Wednesday 17th July 2013





SESSION 1: 11.00am – 12.00pm



How do we get non-theatre people interested/involved?

Steve Johnstone


Participants: Hardish Virk, Ian, Sarah Jane, Louisa Davies, Grant, Paul Keynes, Jo Hannah, John Laidlaw, Francesca Milican Slater, Rebecca, Alison, Natalie, Jo Carr, Oluwatoyin, Dawinder, Tyrone, Derrick.


What do we mean by the question? Creative people exist in any area, how do we listen to people?

Site specific work.

Where you put the work is the most important decision. If it's in a place they use, or if it's in a place they are interested in they will come.


What is our relationship with the people we want to target, how put off are they by the buildings?


Local theatres seem to programme tribute bands, Agatha Christie or Bill Kenwright - so is it the buildings.


How do staff deal with people, how accommodating are they to single mothers with pushchairs?


The language we use is off putting for people. The language of the flyers can be off putting.


Ticket pricing. Are they too much? But people are willing to pay for things they know.


Are we after people as repeat attenders, or are we after people for one off events.


If we turn things on its head, what would make us go to an event that we don't normally attend.


Do smaller orgs need support in marketing?


Is there enough follow through on initiatives? Is there enough connectedness between ourselves and the work?


We have to be clear who we are targeting and why? There often aren't sufficient resources to follow through on.


New artists tend to emerge in a niche area, but then struggle to develop beyond it.


Lots of pockets of niche audience who don't interact, so how do we frame the offer so that it goes beyond our own little spaces,


Collaboration - combining with people so that we connect up the smaller groups.


Other larger orgs are learning from the Tesco's club card approach and data mining so they can better target people.


In the rural areas, by allowing people in on the programming of work means that there is more investment in the show when presented, so more different people come - the rural touring model/BCT urban touring model.


Need more connection between the makers and the programmers, so that West Midlands makers are using the networks available (esp. rural touring etc)


The best results within buildings have to be led right from the top and staff all the way down have to engage, buy in and be listened to.


Are our relationships contained by the theatre world - theatres, makers, audiences - or does the non-theatre world embrace a whole host of other people, different sectors, town centre managers, developers etc?


Collaboration with a wider world and within is key.


We need evidence and we need to know how to use it.


For non-theatre people it needs to be framed in a way that invites them in, when normally they think theatre is not for them. Example of using topics that people identify with - Night Club example in Luton. Talking Birds Coventry FC show.


The work will be slow - it takes time and a lot of investment to get people engaged. Relationships need to be built.


Non-traditional spaces are useful.


For makers - what is your driver, is this piece of work about what drives you - or is it about creating something that is attractive to other people.


How can independent theatre co's maintain an audience if they are producing a work every couple of years.


This can't be the responsibility of the companies, in some ways the programmers have to play a role of matching shows to audiences.


Relying on individuals who are good at creating links with communities isn't enough orgs have to change.


Making people who work in theatres understand the challenges (the RSC sending all there staff out to a betting shop to put on a bet to understand what it feels like to be a fish out of water)


What about paring large orgs with a smaller org, to share audiences CBSO target their audience with an Other Way Works show.


The terms we use don't really mean anything to other people (immersive, site-specific...) but if people are being introduced by an organisation they trust maybe more people would be interested.


Pairing has its time come? It needs to be a pairing that has a decent life span, not for a short hit.


How are non-theatre people affected by the way theatre is presented in the media?


Google search "taking part" for an interesting website on audience development projects.


How about harnessing pester power?



Developing Birmingham’s festival scene

Martin Spruce



Looking outwards – developing links beyond West Midlands




Uniquely made in the Midlands?

Orit Azaz


Participants: Antonia, Polly, Graeme, Chris, Purvin, Nicky, Rochi, Pippa, Alison, Kate, Adam, Steve, Tom (and other people who came later)


East / West Mids vs The Midlands

“Made in Stratford” initiative

It has been challenging enough to identify and articulate a ‘Birmingham scene’ let alone a West Mids or Midlands scene…


Who is this question important for? Artists and makers? Or audiences?


Is the sense of identity different if you were born here?

“I’m not from here. I count this as my home.”


Arts Council role will become more Midlands than West Midlands


What is unique? Shall we make a list?


History as Workshop of the World. Now, huge economic crisis – we need to find new ways of making and doing – maybe we in the W Mids, are uniquely placed to do this? To claim it as ours?


Rural contexts and lifestyles – hill top farmers (a reaction to the industrial revolution?)


“Geography is a state of mind”


“Blurry edges and contracts” – really intriguing. And brings lots of opportunities

And potential to develop conversations with non arts partners, convene around these themes eg Ironbridge Gorge museums


What strengths can we gain from branding ourselves as “made in the (west) midlands”?


“Midlands Today” is pap – loads of disparate stories, no clear sense of identity for the Midlands region


“Shakespeare’s County” – should we try to find an equivalent tag for the region?

Manchester International Festival – big branding success


But – “you can’t impose identities on communities, needs to be bottom up not top down”


What about the reality of what we are. The Crossroads of the UK (the world?). The Middle lands. A place of change and exchange. The place where people pass through. These realities offer potential stimulus, both for creative work and for branding…


How about a massive festival under Spaghetti Junction? And maybe also at New Street Station and B’ham airport? At transport hubs?


How are the Midlands perceived from outside?

“They’re not.” There’s a gap here.


“Heart of England” brand is free and well thought of


Will it help audiences travel to other parts of the region?


The Heart of England way – stories relating to walking paths and routes


How to get promoters and producers to come to w Mids to see work? (discussion about extent to which this is changing)


Theatre fever – was a 2 week celebration of theatre in the W Mids – in a 2 week window “Look how much we’ve got!”

Maybe was confusing for audiences but someone from outside the region said “Seems like the W Mids is the place to be at”


Cultural Olympiad – how successful was that at identifying and articulating distinctiveness? Dance programme – yes.


Would be great to have a strong sense of identity and pride amongst w Mids artists – like in Scotland


“Manchester is all fur coat. We’re the knickers.”




Create some work around the idea of the Mid Lands (projects, programmes, a festival, a happening, a brand)


Further exploration about whether a tag is useful for artists and /or audiences



The value of theatre

Jane Woddis


Participants –Roxanna Silbert, Dan Brown, Jon Trevor, Craig Stephens, Sasha Alsop, Jenny Stokes, Caroline Horton, Philippa Cross, Robert Harper, Nadia Kemp-Sayfi, Jess Pearson, Jo Salkilld and quite a few others who joined in later…


Jane outlined her interest in discussing value of theatre, arising especially from attending What Next? meetings which focussed on encouraging our audiences to express their support for the arts, and from work that the Warwick Creative Exchange is doing – recent seminar about Cultural Value. Value can encompass different things – personal, social, economic value. Economic value of the arts has been pushed up the agenda by the government – and the arts community trying to prove its worth.

Arts orgs have also measured social return on investment.  Been plenty of big, paper exercises – not necessarily scientific – are they accepted by those you are trying to convince? Are they willing to hear them? “These are the things I will listen to”.

One individual case study can go a long way and have more impact than big data studies.

Some people find it hard to articulate their response to theatre – is it right that we put pressure on people to do so?

Whose value is most important? (Audience/participant, theatre maker, politician…) 

And where does risk sit in all this? If we make something to meet some people’s sense of ‘value’ will this reduce amount of risk taken?

Theatre has a beneficial impact on society – it is everyone’s right to access it.

In primitive societies, there were clear roles – hunter, healer… and storyteller.  The person who holds the history and teaches people to understand ideas.  You cannot have a society without the storyteller.

 – But, we can see theatre as the jester (i.e. a critical voice) rather than simply the story-teller.

Just as value means different things to different people so does theatre. Theatre = a huge range of experiences.

Though debates about the value of arts have been with us for a long time, we’re in a new time in terms of talking about the value of the arts now.

What is the breadth of what we are talking about?

When we talk about the value of theatre, are we actually talking about the value of theatre that is subsidised?  Unsubsidised sector does not have to justify itself.

No one questions investing in (elite) sport.  Theatre is different as often it is quite critical and contrary.

Either you believe people should be given the right to access theatre to question the society we live in, or you don’t.

It was suggested that ‘value in use’ (term used in economics) might be a useful way of looking at value.

Economic value of arts has been shown time and again. Government receives more in VAT from theatre than it pays out in subsidy to theatre. 

Government focus on economic argument because they don’t want to focus on the spiritual role of theatre.

Theatre as a democratic right; and the difficulty of bridging the gap between that and the idea of theatre as an economic multiplier.

People who go into theatre do so because they have been touched by theatre themselves – it’s had impact on them.

It’s not sexy among politicians to value the arts because that’s a political ideology and won’t necessarily win votes.

Idea – an actor on every committee that has clout or power.  And bring political people into your organisations – having another voice that values what you do.

Lot of fear about going to theatre from those who are not familiar with it

Different theatre experiences have different values - more not always better.

Value in transitional spaces – taking theatre out of theatre spaces  – street theatre – connect with people.  We shouldn’t feel we always have to ‘convert’ these into conventional theatre audiences.

Who is allowed to articulate the impact/ value?  Does having an academic eye or independent evaluator give a better voice?  Or can we say it (value of what we did) ourselves?

All dimensions of articulating evaluation are valid – academic, practitioner and audience/participant. Certainly we as arts workers are expert and our expertise should be contributed to the debate and valued.

Site specific work – YP have a sense of theatre as a place they go to and can be disappointed they have not experienced ‘real theatre’.  We need to consider this – value what they value – even if we can see other value in what has been (or might be) offered to them.  Because you value it doesn’t mean YP value it. This also applies to our adult audiences.

Evaluation should help those involved to understand the impact/benefit to them of the experience they have had – not just be about meeting funders’ needs.

Not every piece of theatre changes people’s lives.  Let’s not try to make theatre this great saviour for everything.

Evaluation needs to identify benefit but we also need to show we’ve learned from negative feedback or it won’t be taken seriously.

Also, it’s a question of taste – some things may just not be to some people’s taste.

Jane Woddis outlined the University of Warwick’s Commission on Cultural Value.  Jane is involved gathering responses from forums such as this – engaging arts orgs in the debate.  A series of information-gathering events is being organised. Report to come out 2014 just before party conferences prior to next general election.

Action: Jane will share more information on this and on the work Warwick Creative Exchange is doing – Warwick Creative Exchange’s Twitter and Website will be live in early September.



Sustainable development of new talent




Supporting actors

Aimee Berwick



Development of new writing

Liz John


SESSION 2: 12.00pm – 1.00pm



International Links

Sarah-Jane Watkinson




Sarah-Jane Watkinson, Graeme Rose, Megan Nelsie, Dawinder Bansal, Hardish Virk, Christina from Croatia, Andy Watson, Mike Tweddle plus others


A couple of weeks ago, this space was host to the BE Festival of European theatre www.befestival.org . The festival has really contributed to theatre making in the WM in many ways, putting the city on the map, engendering a feeling of optimism and confidence, feeding and refreshing local theatre makers, providing audiences with opportunities to see work that they wouldn’t otherwise see as well as the opportunities for the participating companies. Can we harness this and what can we take from the range of other international links that are growing in Birmingham and across the West Midlands?


  • British Council also provides a range opportunities to take work abroad but what about work coming to UK?
  • Events like BE are an opportunity to encourage development via other routes than just through London - inspiration from other traditions
  • International partnerships
  • Storytelling is an international language
  • Opportunities to see new ways of working eg South African theatre with much more emphasis on political content
  • Challenge for smaller companies is brokering relationships/partnerships – use BE as a catalyst/forum
  • There is already an informal network/collective gathering at Edinburgh this year that includes WM companies plus others that have made connections through BE #WMinEd13
  • For Catalan companies, creating international links through using festivals as means of connecting with growing network of programmers eg Bilbao, Kosovo
  • International visits – always bring back more than took out - is there support for reflection?
  • Sometimes have to turn international work down because can’t afford to do it
  • Festivals such as BE, Tarragona etc have different operational model – one of exchange not fees. Eg, companies costs are met, put up in local people’s homes, fed etc but no fee for performing. Is this enough? It’s OK for emerging companies or for testing new work but cannot always do it for practical/financial reasons
  • Another example is Erasmus placements http://www.britishcouncil.org/erasmus-student-work-placements.htm
  • There is some support through British Council for touring following Edinburgh showcase (every two years) and some ACE support for individual artists but little for companies.
  • Companies like Big Brum are funded through academic work abroad
  • Not just touring shows abroad but sharing best practice, specialist expertise and methodology eg C&T theatre in education working in New York – UK is ahead of many other countries in terms of community engagement for example.
  • Is language a barrier, no as there are ways round this even in text base work. Sometimes cultural symbolism or differences an issue – good to make ourselves aware.
  • Why international? Is it just a good excuse to have a jolly? Is there still the impression in some quarters that British theatre is the best and so we somehow deserve to show our work?
  • Changing work to take it abroad can provide unexpected benefits
  • UK touring network is disintegrating – don’t look after companies as well as venues do in mainland Europe. Important for companies coming into the UK to have locally based producer to navigate UK system
  • Where to go to find out about international opportunities – festival plus British Council
  • European money is available for international touring with emphasis on economic impact but is big, big money and paperwork is horrendous



How to get more West Midlands work into rural West Midlands?

John Laidlaw



Does the Midlands need or want a powerful lobbying organisation?

Tracey Briggs



Making theatre more accessible to minorities and lower income individuals / families?

Luke Elliott


·         Tailor programmes/development schemes to groups and individuals and find marketing strategies that appeal to minorities - success can be seen in previous events held at the Royal Court Theatre

·         Organisations/Theatres need to lose their fear of losing funding and stay consistent in producing work for and including minorities and low-income families and refrain from ‘safe-work’

·         Places may try offering a single, free performance – perhaps a matinee which would be ideal for audience members with young children

·         May also try a pay-what-you-can performance which has shown to be very successful in London

·         Marketing needs to be improved in making people aware of low ticket prices and events

·         There’s stigma with a lot of areas of Birmingham which creates travel issues at night and coincides with public transport fares – locations need to be carefully considered, maybe finding venues directly in the city centre

·         Children and adults have been seen to have negative self-perceptions of their neighbourhood – perhaps create pieces to play on that and instil positive ideas

·         A lot of issues for minorities lie in casting choices, white-washed casts aren’t relatable to the majority of Birmingham’s wide demographic, people want to be represented

·         Period/classic plays with a diverse cast have been very successful - there isn’t an excuse for exclusion

·          It’s not just down to casting co-ordinators and directors, inclusion needs to start from the ground up – using playwrights from many different areas of Birmingham

·         It’s not just about finding talent in Birmingham, it needs to be developed here too instead of having them need to go elsewhere to places like London and Bristol

·         Encourage talent to be political about themselves and their work and not be steam-rolled into work that doesn’t sit well with them

·         Encourage audiences to give feed-back – necessary improvement is made more visible when audience after audience are pointing out the same mistakes

·         Encourage talent to create the work themselves when it is unavailable


Black Country – who’s in?

Kate Kavanagh


No notes available



Sharing spaces and resources better

Philippa Cross


Participants: Sayan Kent, Nicky Cox, Jo Carr, Jess Pearson, Jules Woodman, Polly Tisdall, Vanessa Oakes, Ethan Hudson & Martin Spruce.


Discussion Summary:

There was a broad discussion about the kinds of things that companies and artists may have that would be of use to others – e.g. equipment, rehearsal space, performance venues, office space/ hot seating potential.

Skills-sharing was also discussed – either through the provision of informal shadowing or mentoring opportunities or formal training programmes or surgeries.

It was acknowledged that money is tight for all companies and finding realistic and feasible ways of supporting each other and collaborating is a good way forward. It was also acknowledged that NPOs/ larger organisations may be in more of a position to help smaller organisations.

We discussed that some things can be given/ shared for free but that maintenance costs for equipment for example still need to be covered, and venues still have income targets for hiring out space etc. which need to be met. 

We talked about message boards – something like gumtree/ freecycle where people could post what they have or what they need. We also thought a database might be better. We acknowledged venues might have sliding scales of prices as get closer to dates when available: we don’t want good space to be empty! We also talked about maximising other unused spaces – offices & shops etc.

We talked about non-monetary currency schemes such as LETS and Time Bank as a way of trading ‘what we have’ for ‘what we need’.

We also talked about the time it takes to facilitate things being hired/ lent etc and being careful not to be drawn from core purpose. Some organisations with space to share don’t want to become a venue; nor do they necessarily have the building management skills etc that go with it.

In addition to online databases etc. its about artists and companies talking to each other about needs and things they can offer – NB: Theatre Cuppa and Theatre Exchange @ Old Joint Stock.


Specific Things Mentioned:

  • Rehearsal & Venue Space @ Apple Tree in Ludlow, Meeting/ rehearsal space below Ruby Ru in Moseley (www.ramblingheart.co.uk),
  • Using office spaces – ‘Somewhere to’
  • Skills sharing etc: Arts Development UK (www.ad.co.uk)


Action Points:

  • Set up a web database of resources that are available for hire, or are free, that artists and companies can search and also add to. Could this be hosted on Midpoint website? Possibly with shared timetable.

(one participant mentioned it was something The Rep had said they would host for regional artists / companies – worth checking)

  • Seek funding for a pilot/ feasibility of a non-monetary currency to support resource sharing in the region




Artist development now… Where are the gaps? What are we not doing?

Paul Warwick


The theatre making landscape in the West Midlands has changed significantly in the last 6-8 years and wide range of artists development initiatives have been launched to help support the development of a vibrant and sustainable theatre ecology in the region. I convened this session because I was interested to know whether there was a sense amongst the group that there were gaps in provision and missed opportunities.

We began the session by listing the development opportunities that currently exist:

New Theatre Initiative:

The NTI (New Theatre Initiative) Scheme is a new series of workshops for actors, writers and directors run by Frank Bramwell of inamoment, in association with the Old Joint Stock Theatre, aimed at stimulating the creation of new theatre in Birmingham. Each five-session run of workshops, a mix of study and collaboration, will culminate in a showcase night of full performances of the newly created works at the OJST, and from the best of these Workshop performances it is hoped full-scale production runs will emerge.


Pilot Nights:

The West Midlands scratch night – now in it’s 11th year.


REP Foundry:

REP Foundry is an annual programme for emerging directors, writers, theatre makers and companies from across the West Midlands. This yearlong development programme supports artists through workshops, making and sharing work and professional mentoring.


The First Bite and Bite Size Festivals:

Currently run by China Plate in partnership with mac birmingham and Warwick Arts Centre, First Bite presents eclectic performances, extracts and ideas from some of the most exciting theatre-makers in the West Midlands.

Two of the pieces seen at First Bite are selected for commission and following development these pieces are then performed at Bite Size.


Bite Size is a daylong festival of new work by the freshest, most exciting, home-grown talent from around the West-Midlands, that last took place on 10 March 2012 at Warwick Arts Centre. 


BE Festival:

BE FESTIVAL is Birmingham’s international theatre festival, bringing together the most daring and unforgettable new performances from across Europe. Audiences are offered the opportunity to see four 30 minute-long shows each night and to eat dinner with the performers in the interval. It’s a unique format that enables you to experience and engage with the wide diversity of European theatre. Furthermore, each show is designed to delight and inspire people no matter what language they speak.


Theatre Exchange:

What you need to know

  • It’s open to all… producers, writers, performers, actors, directors, technicians, designers, theatre companies, arts administrators, stage management…..you get the drift!
  • You can just turn up.
  • You can showcase a piece of work and get feedback, please contact us first with details.
  • You can bring along info about pieces you want to promote…or develop.
  • There will be a showcase of new writing each month.
  • The bar will be open.
  • We would love to meet you!


mid*point is the network for theatre makers in the West Midlands.

It was established in 2005.

The main aims of the network are:

To promote the development and growth of the sector

To encourage links between companies, venues and practitioners; and create opportunities for the exchange of ideas, experiences and knowledge

To address issues affecting the sector


Jump Start:

A showcase event for theatre makers in Worcestershire.

Couldn’t find anything on line but the county council website is here:


Creative Enterprises:

Creative Enterprise is a new support initiative, part funded by the ERDF, aimed at creative graduates, new enterprises and established businesses based within the West Midlands with a corresponding West Midlands postcode. We are offering a range of free services and opportunities, including networking events, workshops, mentoring, consultancy, business advice and guidance and workspace.


(n.b. this list is probably far from exhaustive and others are welcome to add to it)


It is worth mentioning that this session had some overlap with two other sessions:

Artist development for emerging artists


What are the opportunities for emerged artists

It would be well worth cross-referencing those session notes alongside this one.

A number of issues or questions were raised:

Making sure the opportunities that exist are communicated effectively to target artists – especially BAME artists who are underrepresented in the sector.

There’s lots of support for emerging artists – what about emerged artists?

Many of the opportunities available are involve scratching work, which is not so useful for artists whose work is more technically ambitious.

Could there be some support for artists to see work – people noted the importance of national as well as regional work being on the bill at events like Pilot.

There isn’t sufficient access to cheap rehearsal/performance spaces.

Younger artists feel a need for up-skilling and confidence in business and producing skills that would help them be more autonomous.

In an environment in which NPO status seems an unrealistic target for companies, where should we be aiming to be in after 5-7 years? What’s the new model? I wonder whether this has to be about more of a focus on audience development…?

What’s happening with mid*point these days? See session later in the day on mid*point….

It is still hard for artists from the West Midlands to tour their work outside of the region. Less attention has been paid to developing distribution networks for work than on developing the work itself. Platforms at which work can be showcased to the national industry figures are still needed.

Artists have a responsibility to work out what they are asking for rather than hoping that off the peg development programmes will serve their needs.

Development opportunities need to build in a self-sustaining message and give artists the tools/attitude to DIY – rather than waiting for the next development opportunity to come along.

Large organisations can help smaller ones in many ways that aren’t necessarily about money – is there a way to offer any spare capacity they have to artists? This raised the question for me as to whether the larger NPO’s REALLY have loads of spare capacity?

Smaller organisations can also help each other too – peer to peer support is really valuable.

More questions than answers – but useful questions…



Youth theatre opportunities

Natalie Hart



The Independent Theatre Council is here to save us all

James Yarker


Participants: Jo Sakillid, Sasha Alsop, Pippa Frith, Alison Gagen, Lisa Morris and others.


ITC has a staff of 4, has 400 membership companies of which 200 are based in London.


Discussion centred around all the ITC has to offer: Training, Legal and Financial Advice, Lobbying, CRB check applications as well as networking opportunities.


There was interest in the notion of regional reps helping make the council more accessible to regional companies (James has just taken on this role).


There was discussion about the ‘threshold’ beyond which membership becomes viable on a financial level. The notion of an Associate Level for individuals or very new companies was explored.


There was a note that the price point of membership at £175+ VAT could be a touch lower as the VAT pushes it over £200.


There was discussion about how independent producers working for a number of small companies may be able to gain value form ITC.


James noted that Stan’s Café have stopped displaying the ITC logo and should start.


There was talk about the relationship between TMA and ITC and if they are complimentary or overlapping services.



Theatre opportunities in a Mediterranean climate

Paul Kaynes


Attenders: Steve from Back Country Touring; Derek from Talking Birds; Jo from Untied Artists; Nadia, Actor; Michael from Arts Council England; Miguel from BE Festival; Vanessa, Playwright


Paul opened by explaining that he’d wanted to talk about the making of outdoor work in the WM, and whether there were opportunities for WM based artists to make more outdoor work, and possibly on a larger scale.


Points made during the debate were:


  • Outdoor work often attracts broader audiences than work for theatres, reaching beyond the usual suspects and creating acceptance of work and styles of work which wouldn’t be considered by audiences in another context
  • Site specific outdoor work can change perceptions of what a city or town centre is about; perspectives of what the target audience might be
  • How do you pay for it? Audiences expect it to be free, but it may be time to change this
  • Talking Birds’ experience is that outdoor work can change a business’ or organisation’s experience of its business e.g. moving people around a railway station, making life operationally better, adding value that encourages additional spend and this should be seen as a chargeable resource
  • Greenwich and Docklands Festival suggests that audience donate an amount by text after events – and there was an opportunity to suggest that this related to the perceived value of the event
  • Quality is key in generating income in this way
  • We need to think of the people who watch outdoor theatre as a legitimate audience segment in its own right – not only as an audience that can be attracted into theatres to see the (perceived) ‘real’ thing
  • Did you know it’s the 40th anniversary of Shostakovich’s birth in 2015? Ideas for celebrating this were discussed….Shostakovich in the street?
  • Outdoor work can make connections to the very hardest to engage audiences – fulfils the ‘Great art for everyone’ vision
  • Flexibility is important as we can’t rely on the great weather every year – evaluating the risk is key
  • Some companies have considered avoiding all outdoor work in the UK in the light of the last 3 summers’ weather; the groups felt this was defeatist!
  • Relatively few WM companies are touring outdoor work as part of, for instance, the Without Walls consortium and network of venues
  • Is this about scale? Is there an opportunity for artists and companies to create work on a larger scale and engage more commissioning partners?
  • Outdoor work needs to be seen as part of the art of the public realm alongside public art, and which makes it more ‘visible’ in a location which can attract audiences
  • The Canals and River Trust have an interest in commissioning work but this requires greater marketing investment
  • Artists can get bored of the specific content and style demands of outdoor work, and when they’ve taken it as far as they can, often decide to move indoors
  • Where work is made affects it profoundly – the authenticity of work is important as opposed to a ‘buying in’ mentality
  • There is a need and opportunity for larger scale outdoor work but this is difficult to fund
  • The importance of a training capacity cannot be underestimated – c.f. Bristol



SESSION 3: 2.30pm – 3.30pm




Graeme Rose


Present:           Alison Gagen, Louisa Davies, Jack Trow, Rochi Rampal, Adam, Albert (Tres Bandes), Sarah-Jane Watkinson, Julia Negus, Pippa Frith, Megan,


Session convened to bring attention to the new Hashtag, a successor to a similar Hashtag which was used to promote and identify West Mids work which was presented at Edinburgh in 2011 (#WM2Edin)


The Hashtag has been initiated by Tin Box / Pippa / Tom. The objective is to share information. So who is going to Edinburgh this year?


Stans Cafe                  The Cardinals              greyfriars         12 noon

Untied Artists               For their own good      Summerhall    4.30

Tres Bandes                Solferata                     Summerhall    8.00

Theatre Absolute         The Wedge                 Zoo venues     3.30

Babakas                      our Fathers                  Summerhall

Tin Box                        pint dreams                 various pub venues

Barbara Nice


Other companies mentioned include              Rosie Kay Co.

                                                                        Vlad Chekov ?

                                                                        Vincent Gould / Rebel Army?


And associated companies                             Orit/Nofitstate – ‘Bianco’/ ‘Noodles’

                                                                        Out of Balanz (BEfest)


There are practical reasons for sharing knowledge and offering the support network;


Eg.       Emergency technical needs while in situ / advice or information sharing about the Edinburgh experience / dealing with press & publicity, or as Alison Gagen puts it “overcoming network terror”. Helping with introductions in order that the network can be extended.

Just having friendly faces present in the City. Feeling that you are not alone, but part of a community. Knowing that there’s an immediate social hub.

Support with resources/ transport-sharing, if necessary, to reduce costs


We are a proud community of makers here in WM but prone to keeping it under our belts rather than blowing the trumpet. Rochi: We should help the outside world see this enthusiasm and respect by broadcasting the hashtag so that the outside world cannot help but take notice.


Adam noted the organic feel of this idea but asked whether this should have a more statutory backing. A discussion was had about the EscalatorEast programme and Northern Stages, in which regional work is curated and promoted in a more official way.


AG noted that it works in the East because they can commit huge funds. They don’t have the demands of infrastructure on their region. East made unilateral decision to promote in this way. This not possible to justify in the WM.


Escalator / Northern Stages is good platform for advocacy. It works Escalator gets noticed because punters / promoters are looking for a route into navigating the vagaries of the Fringe. It is a stamp which is recognised and has currency.


Can we make #WMinED13 do similar?

This is essentially inclusive, not curated or approved. We are informally bonded. We aim to offer support to each other. With the diverse amount of work we can offer suggestions to punters of what to see. / look out for.


Julia: “reciprocal piggy-backing”.


Satnam Rana ran a feature 2 years ago. Let’s continue to encourage her thru tweets to revisit Edinb this year. Similar with press releases where possible – use the hashtag. Easy to nudge individual journos like Lyn G / I. Shuttleworth, etc.


Also important to hold social sessions, drinks - to compare notes/ experiences and say hello.


Suggestions for action:


Free and liberal use of the hashtag #WMinED13


Retweeting each others’ tweets to broaden exposure and support of each others’ work, press stories, etc.



The place/role of improvisation (as a performance art form, not a rehearsal/devising tool)

Jon Trevor


We were – Jon Trevor, Derek Nisbet, Rob Stanley, Becca Thomas and Orit Azaz.  We all have experience of working in Improvisation as teachers, performers, musicians choreographers or directors.


We found ourselves united in our belief that not only are the skills of improvisation of huge benefit in the rehearsal room, the corporate setting, the music studio, and in a variety of other applications, there is also a great value in the experience of the truly improvised performance, where skilled and practiced improvisers act as writers, performers, musicians, editors, directors and stage managers in true real time to create spontaneous extraordinary art.


There a slowly growing vibrant independent Improv scene in Birmingham, but nothing in the way of formal structures.  We felt that it was missing a trick that we were not really seen as part of the wider theatre scene in the West Midlands.


We felt there might be room to investigate some resourcing or funding to run some exploratory cross artform workshops (dance, music, theatre).


We decided to stay in touch as a small group to see if we could generate something together.



Society, politics and disaster response

Anna Himali Howard


- Torycore, Lucy Ellinson - George Osborne's budget speech + benefit cuts letters

sense of empowerment, not satirical but gritty

- Max and Pete

- Political work is successful and people clearly want it but who will fund it? Who used to? ACE? The unions used to and still do to a degree

- Outdoor large scale, The Barricade and As The World Tips, v political, getting 10,000 people together to talk about politics w/out being arrested

- Good quality, interesting approach to storytelling

- Not overt enough. Does it have to be?

- Do we have to satire something which is already ridiculous? It has become normalised so we need to reframe it

- Bigmouth at wac, Presenting speeches afresh, allows you to make links

- Putting things next to each other, theatre can do something to reframe rather than mirror

- Getting a response done in time, circumstances. access, where and when?

- Political debate is focused around wrong things, what we haven't got, we need to look at society as a whole rather than dividing it up

- Danger of preaching to the choir

- Allow people to make choices and make changes

- Where is the countercultural response?

- The Gate, The Tricycle, verbatim work (script is already out there)

- Context is more political than content

- When making a piece of work, collaborating with non-theatre people changes who comes to see it. Way of making work which can help to avoid preaching to the choir and could be useful.

- Disseminating can be more effective with partners

- Theatrical 'Spitting Image', make sure response is not too late, but...

- We make the same mistakes over and over so things remain relevant

- Big Brum present political work to young people but have to present it differently

- Shift in perception of society, no longer a social contract

- Use of humour? Should we be lessening the blow?

- Activists and lobbyists need artists to 'give them a new language' to make meaning and translate material

- Protest as theatrical, people who climbed The Shard

- Madrid squats and artistic movements right in the middle of the city, politics and art entwined despite declining audience numbers in formal spaces

- Conventions of theatre buildings are ripe for attack, could be political.



What does a development space (in Digbeth) mean to WM theatre and arts practitioners and how could it be used?

Tyrone Huggins


Participants: Kristina Gavran, James Yarker, Naomi Paul, Nic Bailey, Michael Addison, Tracey Briggs, Nadia Kemp-Sayfi, Julia Rudd, Martin Spruce, Luke Elliott, Jane Campion Hoye, Jenny Stokes, Rachel


Notes: Those present the beginning of the session were invited to say a little about themselves




• Nic Bailey - formerly an actor now a producer interested in unlocking the potential of the

arts community as business people


• James Yarker - Stan's Cafe after 5 years at A E Harris are due to contract the amount of

the space they use and have access to holding on to what will allow a 50 seat

performance space at front of building


• Kristina Gavran - a Croatian writer working with Space2Develop to develop a new work

looking at 3 different cultures in Birmingham with her director Tina Hoffman


• Naomi Paul - a performer who presented work at The Artists Salon at The Edge, then a

double bill show




First part of question was addressed as a general idea "what does a development space

mean". The conversation then flowed on to specifically identify the space as The Edge in

Digbeth, before widening out to other spaces in the city and region.




• Opportunity for new artists/audiences within theatre working on non conventional work -

and rehearsing.


• Rehearsal space; developing work; performance


• A place for writers to contact actors, directors


• A fast response and communication environment.


• A place enabling risk taking in a safe environment


• An artistic community hub, informal, not a big business


• Free; low cost.


• Access to wide general network and groups who can interact with each other


• A place with a variety of types of audiences


• Digbeth is in the centre of Birmingham - accessible from other parts of city tackling North/

South city divide.


• Fear/anxiety leaving Blue Orange and The Edge late at night


• City centre is spreading The Edge well located as Eastside develops area may lose



• What is artists responsibility for economic/running costs


• Responsibility is a barrier but also could draw on imaginative ways of financing e.g. The



• The Edge a difficult place to get to and from - access, but appealed to middle class

audiences as a non-theatre space


• Must not be over developed


• Think of fundraising events to address economics - crowd funding


• Exchanging skills, non-monetary economy - cooperative

• AEHarris had electric lines put in by theatre company ideas of drivers, electricians as

resources - Robert Owen principal. Ort cafe Moseley with spoken word, poetry. Also

at AEHarris emergency lighting and 3 phase power was bartered. Running bar etc. can

be harder to exchange


• Health & Safety must be addressed. These spaces can be cold - very cold for working in.


• Don't lose quirkiness of The Edge


• Draw upon popular support like The Public's users not wanting it to only as a college


• Need a space where rehearsal and performance areas are separate and costs are

included when everybody is working for free


• Old Joint Stock as development space


• National Theatre Studio - actors


• Actors may need a rough space to add to creativity and connectedness to people


• Unisex toilets cause issues


• Privacy and disability access must be catered for


• Spaces for workshops at £50 with 10 people paying £5 each would be appealing but has proved hard to sustain


  There is a continual struggle to make money.




Other development/rehearsal spaces in city?




• Blue Orange; Sweet Shop (Moseley); Old Joint Stock; Theatre Xchange; Rural spaces.



Transforming audience

Rob Harper


Participants: Roxana, Kate, Jules, Jane, Julia, Adam, Oluwatoyin, Katarina

I convened this session as a way to discuss the issues of a reducing economy with regard to place/space/venue for performance and to see how we can bring new thinking around the development of new writing through found or temporary spaces.

The question arose from my development of a project for Bare Fiction, 40 Plays in 40 Nights. A brief can be downloaded from the following link to include if you wish: https://www.dropbox.com/s/h1onug2mowuqlrk/40Plays40Nights.pdf

Unedited notes:

It is about going to alternate places?

South Wales company Dirty Protest challenged writers with their Plays In A Bag series, which can be performed anywhere.

Economic state questions how can we keep creative processes/development within low budget constraints.

What can we afford to try? Think creatively.

How we might encourage an audience to still view a piece as theatre, regardless of venue?

Re 40 plays project: can we take concept of transformation further? So audience accepts a reworking of what happened in Shakespeare's day, with the actors performing sight unseen, allowing a complete transformation to happen in front of the audience.

Is a more raw experience acceptable to an audience? Much like improv is happily accepted because they understand the concept.

Are these constraints workable in some circumstances?

Would this be transforming existing audiences or creating new ones? How can that be combined?

Talked about space again. Literal pub theatre, fast food joints, trains, dry cleaners, restaurants. Can we take over these spaces for a performance? If we do, how do we assess and gain feedback?

Can we take over a space with the audience being unknowing beforehand? How vocal are they likely to be? Do we involve them in the performance?

Jules has performed pieces on a train, and people used law of two feet if they weren't happy.

Can we develop inertia for a piece by generating performance on route to venue?

In taxis, buses, pubs and meeting places etc.

It's ok for people to leave.

Should theatre be unexpected? Blurring boundaries between audience and artist.

How does a normal theatre goer engage and enjoy performance in a found space? And a new theatre goer, would they prefer performance in a theatre building more or less than an unusual venue, just because of their preconceptions.

Can audience be found themselves, within a theatrical event?

Always remember the importance of knowing who you want your audience to be, wherever you are performing to them.

How much of the Pre performance process does an audience need to understand or have knowledge of?


Beyond emerging: what opportunities are there for makers going 10 years or more?

Katie Day


Project funding, living project by project

Funding changes make it a tougher scene

What is emerged?

When it is about making a living. When you will do anything for free to promote you.

When you are heavily booked by multiple venues - have money, audience, venue

Turning vicious circle into virtuous circle


What do we actually need and want?


Move away from funding model. Be more self-sustaining. I am always going to be an artist whatever happens.


People who actually care and support you


Need to be under an umbrella of an organisation, or people don't take notice.


As you become more established your needs are more bespoke


Can a producer fill this caring support role?


A conversation


Not just money and space, someone to support.


Working in partnership, collaboration.


Should you hand over power to a producer/tour booker?


Human resources at venues can't cope with that level of support


Peer networks of emerged artists that support each other.


Chisenhale Dance scheme- knowledge share - anything happening in Mids like this? Yes, informally.

In the past tried On Call, but interest dried up.


Selective at this stage, people need to like your work. Venues make their choice


Finite resources. Commissioning budgets are too small.

Perception of who is right to have the money.

Maybe my subsector causes more issues


Promising signs from regional Rep, but may take 10 years for change to trickle through


More contemporary work, maybe more of an issue. Trust about contemporary


Programming & commissioning vs Support


Research -




Caravan - focused on emerged work

Trigger at WAC - get right people in the room, to create a distribution network

Bite size?



Grouping work together to make it easier to get promoters to come. Then ideally broker relationships with them and companies


Regional key festivals - more important now Edinburgh is flooded & bloated


Is WM missing this. Personalities but then backed by key regional venue - e.g. Mayfest


Capital Festival - is growing


Holding Space - could they take on this challenge?


Venue desire to be transparent. Organised and structured at mac. Controlling the open door.


Is mid career dev important to venues, or is it irrelevant as they have enough viable talent already presenting itself


Implicit structure determines if emerging or emerged, even if labelled.


Keep pressure on venues to keep providing opportunities


Bite size? Should it happen again this year?



A better process of sharing knowledge/intelligence



Participants: Alison; Holly; Nicky; Nadi; Roxanna; Vanessa; Mark; Elizabeth; Purvin; Julia




·         Knowledge/ intelligence such as good practise; audience data capture tools and findings; training and funding opportunities have traditionally not been equally shared within the sector.

·         There has also sometimes been a territorial attitude towards sharing knowledge/ intelligence.

·         Therefore this stops the opportunity for collective working and learning:

o   Between departments;

o   Between organisations;

o   Between individuals and organisations.

·         E.g. venues can learn so much about community engagement when working with someone who does site specific work within a community setting.

·         Strategic and sustainable sharing of knowledge and intelligence is important -particularly in todays’ economical climate.

·         Organisations are more territorial about sharing information now due to funding cuts – is power knowledge?

·         Examples of good practise sharing include National Association Youth Festival and Youth Theatre Festival but what happens to the young people after the festival?

·         Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) have different skills sharing initiatives including professional actors working with youth theatres and amateur dramatics.

·         Arena Theatre were recipients of the skills sharing initiative at the RSC.

·         The internet has a lot of intelligence but is there too much?

·         There are lots of reports and tool – there are sometimes challenges of implementing these due to time, resources and too often consultants have done the work without training staff to take over when they leave.

·         How do individuals with no connection to the (mainstream) arts community access these opportunities?

·         Access via schools is a good opportunity to reach new audiences/ communities.

·         Do we hold an open space event to share knowledge and intelligence – e.g. case studies; lessons learnt; etc.

·         Some current NPO organisations are concerned about losing their NPO status and therefore not being taken seriously by the theatre sector – there is a possibility of fragmenting smaller scale theatre organisations and venues as a result of this.

·         Pairing with organisations such as The Rep would be useful but what?

·         The Rep works with different partners but the danger could be that the smaller partners might lose their voice/ identity within the partnership. Need to keep the smaller organisations voices alive.

·         Blue Orange Theatre could work with the RSC in terms sharing audience knowledge.

·         Theatre Absolute (not a NPO anymore) utilise every resource available to market and put on their work in their shop front theatre in Coventry. They get very different audiences but don’t have the resources to evaluate their audiences. They adopted the stewardship approach, which was run by the RSC.

·         There was a time when there were no marketing departments or audience development initiatives – money can be saved by potentially not having them and putting the funds into the artistic work.

·         Audience development is still key to engaging and sustaining new audiences. Strategic audience development work in theatre was set up as a result of recognising that public funded theatres did not engage with all the public. Significantly the Macpherson Report written in response to the murder of Stephen Lawrence identified institionalised racism in the Police force. In 2001 the Eclipse Conference in response to this report discussed institutionalised racism in theatre and this led to the Eclipse Report and funding to change the landscape of theatre. This funding supported a number of audience development initiatives.

·         Word of mouth/ recommendations/ passing traffic is really important components of audience development.

·         Suggestion: to open up a space after performances for audiences and artists to speak, share, learn and ultimately develop a greater relationship between the art, artist and audience. Audiences can speak with directors and emerging artists can ask questions.

·         Suggestion: flyer swapping between different organisations – share resources.

·         Without audience evaluation resources it is challenging to learn if the marketing work has had any affect.

·         Universities have a responsibility. Coventry University have the Creative Enterprise scheme to support the set up of businesses, mentors, etc. creativeenterprisecoventry.wordpress.com

·         Good to work outside the comfort zone – with other art forms and sectors.

·         There were examples of job change initiatives – step into other experiences – a sharing and learning process

·         Number of different sharing opportunities:

o   Theatre Exchange – theatreexchangebirmingham.com

o   Theatre Cuppa – google search

o   Coventry and Warwickshire Digital Arts and Marketing – google search

·         A lot of informal sharing but need to share on a money saving.



Rural Midlands: the village fete condition

Lisa Morris


Participants: Kate Kavanagh, John Laidlaw, Oluwatoyin Odunsi, Ian Wainwright, and various bee species.


What does The Village Fete Condition mean? When I wrote this, the idea I had in mind was of this very closed, traditional event practice, which is very local, rather twee and not willing to change. The question needed to be asked is how we change the attitudes of those in rural locations to be more willing to promote and to book into venues those performance practices which are experimental and emerging, and encouraging those venues and organisations to be more open to the art going on in the urban West Midlands areas.

Point: The Village Fete of long ago used to be THE place for the spectacle and awe of those travelling events, ideas and inventions. Projections of trains travelling towards the audience in Victorian times had village folk ducking for cover. What we need to do is tap into this long forgotten approach to the village fete and reinstate it as a popular entertainment braid of performance. The current performance that I am involved with ‘Letters From Another Island’ uses green screens and models to make a film, and the audience love to stick around to play after the show. This is perfect for this model of the village fete condition, as experimental performance suddenly and very drastically differs from a pre-assumed norm from rural communities that devised performance is very heavy and academically driven. Rather it becomes the magic trick again, and is able to let the audience participate in it.

Question: Does performance need to rethink of itself as ‘Event’ Theatre? If we can make this thing we do an experience rather than a performance, will it carry easier into rural settings? Can we sneak it into a rural location under their noses? ‘Trojan Horse Theatre’. (We could have a sign at the end of a performance: “Congratulations, you saw art.”)

The problem concerning rural venues: Many rural theatres and arts centres are at the mercy of the local authority that owns them. They have very specific needs and wants that mostly have finance issues at their core. Therefore, getting your experimental performance into these venues can be tricky. There is generally no forum available to discuss programming and what the local community, local and regional artists want to see booked into those spaces, and performance programs are often filled with am-dram pieces, children’s theatre and West End knock offs. Unusually, in Shrewsbury where I am based, we have quite a varied dance programme, as the manager of the Theatre Severn is very interested in dance. Question: Is this a case that the work isn’t being booked because the manager does not have the confidence/knowledge to book it?

Point: West Midlands Arts used to run small-scale Midlands tours (before it became Arts Council West Midlands). Audiences for these works in rural locations were sometimes quite small, but no one really minded at that time because there had been funding there to cover that loss. Now what we are finding is that there is no buy in to performance at a local level.

One example of give and take that I can share is the work that was done on ‘Silhouette’. This was a community project about a huge underwear factory that operated in the Shropshire area from the 1930’s to 1979. As researchers, we interviewed former owners and employees, and delved into archives. There was so much incredible material. But what we created was basically an amateur musical, which was great, but it could have been so much more. The important thing was that this performance had two three-day runs at the Theatre Severn with matinee performances. So we got a great audience and subsequently a book was released. So if we can tap into this give and take relationship between artist and venue, maybe there is a chance that we can gradually encourage them to be more open to very different brackets of performance practice.

Action: Talk to ‘Arts Alive’, who promote the arts at village level. This might also help to bridge the gap between those independent village venues, and those in the market towns which are local authority managed and so can only obey the whim of those in charge.

Point: Can we create a supportive framework for rural venues, that advises on those upcoming companies as well as important, well-established artists that can be booked into rural venues. They can also assist on possible venue share schemes (you have two nights, we’ll have two nights) to cut cost and risk etc. They could co-ordinate two sessions a year to help programme and discuss/advise.

Another thing that would help is negotiating the use of performance space during quiet spells in the year in order to get performance moving.

Action: If you want to set up a rural arts/fringe festival in Shrewsbury, the contact the Barnstaple FringeFest team. They are a great example of a market town that is doing this really well, and getting those artists into its town and to the rest of Devon. Approach the business collective that sets all this up. Contact Ludlow Arts Festival as well.



Formation of new writers network or workshops



SESSION 4: 3.30pm – 4.30pm



We have Midpoint – do we want it? Should we change it? What kind of theatre network (if any) do we want?




How do we support back office needs of indies in the region?

Katie Day


Accessing RSC staff for expertise - Ian from RSC





Health and safety

Lighting & sound

Finding personnel - recommendations


point of contact for that?



Trade fair/careers day for regional makers to meet all available staff

Make personal connections with staff

And meet regional people, other contexts



After Open Space: what next?

Martin Spruce



Education (Schools)

Sarah-Jane Watkinson


There are a number of issues facing companies working with schools:


  • Changes to curriculum, then changes to changes
  • Many schools becoming academies which don’t have to follow the curriculum anyway
  • Local authority infrastructure has more or less disappeared eg no Birmingham schools mail box service,  schools arts teams disbanded
  • Nothing has replaced Creative Partnerships nor Extended Schools


Some services still in place eg Birmingham Grid for learning, but no way of contacting all schools through it, especially as more and more leave local authority control


Arts Connect – new “bridge” organisation for the WM but lack of clarity around its role. Good with connections to its Hub schools and schools in Black Country from its previous incarnation as Schools Improvement Service, but little knowledge of arts sector locally. There is no national remit or model for bridge organisations, so each interpreting their role differently eg East Mids is primarily delivery organisation, West Mids the complete opposite. Brokerage role would be useful but schools to be the ones to contact arts organisations, not the other way round. This will take time to establish.


As budgets tighten, bookings are less certain – maintaining contacts with schools especially in climate of very high staff turnover is difficult.


As more schools become academies, relationships with Academy Trusts will be key – work with clusters of schools, decisions on expenditure made centrally.


Conversely, interest in INSET is up, as Academies look for ways to improve performance and add value.





The working playwright – 1 day symposium – what does it contain?




How can writers and actors work directly together to form a piece of theatre?

Frank Bramwell


Recognised that there are plenty of opportunities for Theatre to come out of direct collaboration between Actors & Writers.


Two broad camps:


a)    Devised Theatre


-          Can be problems if the respective roles are not made clear at the outset

-          Different ways of involving writers:

o   Writer brought in halfway through

o   Writer involved at the outset

o   Different merits for the different ways, no way is right

o   Writers as a bunch may need to be ‘mentored’ through the devising process, it does not come as naturally to them as it does to Actors and Directors


-           There are issues to be aware of:

o   One example that works is where there is a high consistency of input from participants; means they have a unified voice

o   Some worries about who takes the credit – writer or actors?

o   Needs to be a good ‘marriage’ of participants

o   Some work to set deadlines, others take a long time to generate their pieces

o   Devised theatre is a key way of breaking down traditional roles within Theatre

o   Producing devised Theatre can be a quicker and more productive way of working

o   There has to be an agreed framework



b)    Traditional Theatre


-          The Script/Stagecoach model of having days where Actors are brought in to workshop scripts brought along by writers is missed. There is a feeling that this was a very positive initiative.


There were recognised problems of people being able to commit the right amount of time, usually the need to earn money. Also Agents can have a bearing!


Interesting how there were no British companies performing at BE.


There are a number of devising companies in the West Midlands, but again dispersed across the region.


Companies like Appletree TC are willing to talk to artistes about sharing their space at affordable rates.


Usual recognition that money is the key to a lot.


Alternative viewpoint is that Writers & Actors coming together, sharing the associated costs, is a relatively achievable way or creating Theatre together. However a number of people would prefer that participants are paid in some fashion or other,


Overall, this model is a way forward but does need to be approached with a certain amount of energy and know-how.


Action Point


To put together a regular set of sessions that Writers and Actors can take part in to produce devised Theatre.




Is digital the answer?

Craig Stephens


Participants: Luke Elliott, Katerina Pushkin, Orit Azaz, Ethan Hudson, Lisa Morris, Adam Pushkin, Purvin, Steve Johnson, Derek Nisbet


Is digital a space where it’s more OK to fail?

Linking tech world with artists to aid innovation

How to make it meaningful and worthwhile

Stan’s Cafe show ‘Tuning Out With Radio Z which was improvised, streamed live on the web and was based on audience contributions via text and message board

Use of trailers by the RSC as a means of selling shows and disseminating work

Planetarium screens might be available as places for art works (Full Dome)

Using digital realm to create networks, as a tool for artist development. Possibility of an online Open Space (Desperate Men in Bristol had run a similar session)

Digital printing has allowed growth of small publishing houses

Touch of the human hand is important

How digital work can make human communication more fruitful

Shouldn’t assume knowledge of tech/digital world

Technology if used shouldn’t be an add on

Look at how museums and libraries use technology

Use of technology to document process

Other Way Works Bandstand project  shows how digital piece can involve audience and actually be a visceral experience

Discussions about work online can be very valuable

Digital archives

Growth of large scale and 3d projection – can draw people to an art work that also contains live elements


Use of digital technology can be hidden – audience may not even aware that it is being used

Technology (eg LED lighting) to make theatre ‘greener’ and more flexible

NT live – has pros and cons

Linking theatre with science and academia (eg Talking Birds and Centre for History of Medicine)

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