Category: Diversity

Laying the Foundations – February Email

Welcome
Welcome to February’s email. For those of you who are new on the mailing list these emails are all accompanied by a YouTube video which you can find by clicking here, the theme this month is Volunteering. Don’t forget to subscribe and press the bell for the latest upload notifications. So, January brought the UK into another lockdown, meaning all venues are forced into yet another closure, so not a good start to the New Year, is probably an understatement. But focusing on the positives, we have seen lots of people showing their support for the arts, wanting theatres reopened, because they know, like we do just how much the creatives impact have on their communities and individual lives.
Look Forward
Like with many businesses during the current COVID situation, I am not able to offer up a full list of services. However, I am happy to speak via Zoom to board, staff and volunteers about the project and the 2025 Trust fund. It will give you an idea how you can get involved and how it could potentially impact you and your local community. I’m charging a small fee of £10 per engagement, this will be placed in the 2025 Trust Fund. If you would like more information, please feel free to email me or message me through the Facebook page or direct message on Ingram both profiles are @at2rentertainment.
Supporting Local
I think what we are learning from the pandemic is that we need to think small, over the last couple of decades or so we have seen this idea of nationalisation and globalisation. Where businesses become corporate and set up as many outlets across the country, some individuals owning more than one of these businesses and employing thousands of people. I think 2020 has shown that this model really doesn’t work, how many of national chains put in requests of funding from the government or investors? How many people lost jobs as a result of these businesses closing down? So right in the heart of these hard times, when unemployment is high and funding is scares and people are looking to find ways to make a difference, as an industry this is our moment, we are at the heart of every community, a concept that I spoke about on video in latter part of 2020, you can find them on my YouTube channel. So, let’s encourage people to be creative it’s what we do best as an industry, connecting people with their inner selves through imagination. Pre pandemic the creative industry enjoyed thousands of hours of support from volunteers who showed the love for our industry by helping to making it happen in their own communities.
The 2025 Trust Fund
Don’t forget to donate to the 2025 Trust fund. Over the course of the year through these emails and videos, you will learn more about the Trust Fund and what it means to the industry, also how you can get involved, both in terms of fundraising and being part of the strategic planning that will give accountability for ensuring the money arrives where it is due and on time. Click here to donate.
Community Spirit
In 2018 a £4.5 million program was launched by the UK Health Secretary that would see the arts put on prescription from doctors in an attempt to tackle health issue such as depression, social isolation and even those with complex needs. Activities include drama, singing, visiting museums and creative reading. These were not about replacing, but instead to be worked alongside conventional therapies and medicines. I think that even with the current restrictions we should still be able to fulfil this role within our communities by whatever means we can. The review on this incentive in December 2020 showed how positive the impact Arts on Prescription has become. Maybe this is a starting point to bring our audiences back to our venues, it will also bring new unsung talent to light. As we recover from the pandemic, we need become proactive and explore new, inclusive and engaging ways to reach out to our communities, things we have never dared to try before. The Community Spirit programme is about sharing in each other’s ideas, because the lockdowns during this pandemic have shown, we need to move forward in our approach because government is not going to jump at supporting as part of its response. So, as an industry we need find ways to support people who suffer with isolation and other mental health issues, as we have heard this is worse than ever during this lockdown. Plus, there will always be away to link those programmes to our main aims and objects. As a way of sharing and networking I have created a Community Spirit group on Facebook, you can join by clicking here. There are also local versions of the group that you are welcome to join via the same means. Don’t forget in August I am hoping to launch the Community Spirit main event (COVID pending) which is a fundraiser for the 2025 Trust Fund and the opportunity for the industry to seek out hidden talent within our communities. Finally, though the plans for the Main Event have currently stalled slightly due to the uncertainty of the pandemic’s restrictions and length of lockdown, we are opening registration for those wishing to volunteer in the Bridgwater event on the 22nd February, please head to www.aticket2ride.co.uk/registration. If you are putting on your own version of this event and decide that you would like to tap into my volunteer system to for recruitment, please get in touch through the usual channels to find out how.
Theatre Through the Years – The Beginning
It’s important that as an industry we never forget where we have come from, because there are lessons embedded in our past that will help us in our future and it holds the keys to our road out of this pandemic. So here in the UK theatre started as a set of traditional rituals performed by Celtic and Pagan cleric, but real theatre as we know was created in Greece, comedy and plays were first performed in 6th century BCE. It was developed as it made its way through Europe, like the Olympic flame, arriving in the UK around the 5th Century, where over the cause of 2000 years we have adopted, developed and changed it to what we know today. In this time of uncertainty, where the industry is forced to a standstill, we need to stop, take stock and return to our roots. Not to Greece, but to the way we sold it the whole entertainment thing to the crowds, both as audience and participants, by going out into the community and doing what we love more. The 21st century extends the community around us as we meet and find people online who share in our own personal unique creativity.
Final Thought
Keeping in touch is so important as we begin this long road to recovery. I find there is nothing more uplifting then hearing both positives and struggles from others as we share this journey together. So please do feel free to contact me at any time either through social media or email.   Networking and supporting each other is more important than ever before, but the industry will get through this, we will come back bigger, better and stronger than ever.   If you know anyone who would like to receive these emails please get them to email me through info@aticket2ride.co.uk to be included, don’t forget to add this address into your contacts to stop the emails going to your junk box, as well as subscribe to the YouTube channel and follow me on social media.

Funding in the Arts

We often read that theatres should be working with more diversity in their performances and possibly being penalised if they fail. At the same time there’s this discussion about lack of funding for new works. Surely there is a link between the 2 here?

I think maybe we forget a few things, for instance all of today’s great shows all started the same way trying to source funding. Look at Les Miserable, when you look back at when the idea was first hatched it was, in all cases, the rejected play and for no other reason than it had miserable is the title. Yet as it began its 30th season 2015 it had become one the best loved and longest running musicals of all time being translated into 22 languages with productions in 42 counties and 319 cities.

Or look at Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap playing at the St. Martin’s Theatre, the longest running West End play as it began its 63rd session in 2015. There is also the world famous works of Shakespeare, originally written in the 18th Century, they all needed funding at to start out.

All of these scripts were written about a society that was racist, that was sexist and worked on stereotyping. But some of these stories are well loved and give a powerful message reminding us about our past. But to penalise a theatre or production for lack of diversity when attempting to stage these shows would be wrong and it wouldn’t solve the diversity issues in our theatres.

In The Stage on 28th May 2015 Maria Friedman spoke about the lack of work for ‘Older Actresses’, and is almost forcing a generation to move over to directing. While for ‘diversity’ this is good as we are seeing a rise in the female directors. But what does it do for the on stage diversity issue? Is it really the fault of the director or the actors that there is a limit to variety of works to cover all bases of diversity?

Steven Berkoff’s recent comment that ‘White actors should be allowed to play Othello’ seems like a desperate cry to close the diversity gap, as Othello works because of the black / white issue of the day in which it is written. White people have never been singled out and forced into a situation that Othello was, and to do that would make the whole play unreal and unbelievable.

Now I am not saying that funding bodies should just give out money to new works, as the element of risk will always be high. The writers and all those involved to producing the works should work on their pitch and not just to the funder but also the potential audience. In today’s techno world there are ways to gage if a show is going to work, in very much the same way as the retails can gage if there is a market for new product.