Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Funding and the value we place on the arts

 Convener: Mhairi Grealis ( a continuation from the day before – original converner unknown)

Participants: Johnathan Peterbridge, Ellis Kerthanen, Billy Buffery, Nathan Curry, Jo Crowley, Rachel Parish, Mary Swan, Hannah Myers, Zoe Cobb and a load of otgher people who didn’t leave their names,

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

The discussion was around funding in the arts, a practical and ideological/philosophical look at what we can do if anything to change, should we apologise or demand money, how do we need to adapt. The following points were raised:

1-    the model of the scientific community could be looked at, as public health funding for example is also experiencing asphyxiating cuts – how have they succeeded in getting funding?
2-    The idea was posited we need to make theatre for others not just us  - there was a concensus we’re sick of seeing theatre practitioners at events as the audience. There is exclusivity.
3-    The quality of the artists working on the edges of society has to be good: ie those engaged with creative learning and community projects, one of the avenues of changing public opinion and validating the artform.
4-    “I hope to articulate what it means to be human” the notion that this is much a discovery and process as for instance, hunting for a particle.
5-    It was posited that it’s not useful to break down the artform into different sectors – we all do work of value whether that be avant-garde or ‘traditional’.
6-    It would be good to be able to articulate you’re a theatre maker without meeting with silence (in the pub, for instance)
7-    There are many routes into disseminating the message that we’re of value
8-    For instance, it was posited that you can and should open a dialogue about your practice, process, outcomes….
9-    It was posited there’s an elephant in the room –there are those who want to keep things elitist and exclusive.
10-It was proposed that the easy option is to make work that involves the community rather than just make ‘traditional’ theatre.
11- We should ask: “what do we do, what can we bring to this?” – a conversation to be had with those not in the industry.
12-One group member said the difficulty he has in dialogue with the community is often about aesthetic – ie where his tastes or ideas differ from theirs. In those instances he chooses the idea that will work best.
13- There was a movement a few years ago where the buzz was about our usefulness in the 21st century – maybe we need to re-open that dialogue.
14-We should and how do we celebrate what we do.
15- We likened theatre to football –t he impetus is all on the premiership, as such.
16- One group member talked about his festival – he puts it on in Barnstable for no money. Each young person in attendance gets to choose an event for their parents or carers to come to – these are events which are accessible – so for instance a 7 minute piece about the killing of an immigrant being deported. They are cheap events, rock bottom prices.

1 –We find common language with politicians, a kind of Esperanto ?
2 – We go to see local MPs at their surgeries and talk to them.
3 – we get local councilors and politicians on side with ur projects and raise awareness that way.
4 – we open up our processes for discussion and dialogue with outsiders.
5 – we facilitate through creativel learning and let non-professionals make theatre
6 – we invest in the next generation and work with young people to make theatre part of their lives rather than an exclusive activity
7 – we look at other models, like science for answers on how they deal with funding issues and liken ourselves in value.
8 – we actively place a value on the visible street level theatre in the outdoors, using this Olympiad year to point out and celebrate theatre in such accessible and public spaces.
9 – Be flexible and listen: “Sometimes the best thing you do is not the best thing everyone else thinks you do.”
10 – We stop seeing it as a fight with politicians, we rather change their minds one interaction at a time, and open up a dialogue with not only them, but other ‘outsiders’ who often feel very pleased to be a part of the conversation.
11- we have an email and possibly blog group, to keep in touch, remain open and move forward with these actions
12 – we keep thinking of news ways to further our ideas and stay open and inventive. We keep sharing, we keep talking, but most of all, we keep doing.

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