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#PhysicalFest 13 06 19. I am female leader, what do you need/want from me?

"How do we improve female working class visiblility in the arts?" was the question posed at the start of day. As a female arts sector leader (Festival Director - therefore a programmer, fundraiser, commissioner, debater, network lead/contributor, ambassador, etc), I felt it was important to ask what people wanted or needed from me, as someone who has a voice -in certain spaces- to offer. I was trying to buck the assumption that I would already know what women wanted from their peers and lead Read more

Playing Like An Ally

This Open Space covered a wide range of subjects including gender, ethnicity, stage allies, pre- and post-show ally-ship, awareness, play and best practice. It was convened by Stephen Davidson (Author: Play Like An Ally and Improvising Gender; Artistic Director: Improvable; Nursery Theatre: Training Centre Manager), Minder Kaur Athwal (Facilitator), Victoria Hogg (Founder: DDG Improv and The Offer Bank). NB. These notes are not perfect! They were taken long-hand in the moment and are a startin Read more

You Be Me: Background

This is added to Richard Coaten's report of this event: Read more


Why was there an absence of younger improv troups & artists? What generation is GII tailored for? Does time & experience equate to best practice? How can we make this an intergenerational space and open up the 'inner circle'? Will that create better opportunities for both emerging artists and established improvisers? Read more

Safety And Openness From Day 1 (Improv teaching)

A discussion about how to create a genuinely safe and open atmosphere in improv classes from the first class someone takes. How do we protect students from potentially harmful experiences which can arise from the rigidity or literal interpretation of 'Yes, and' ? Read more

Oogly Boogly - Improvising with Babies

These are notes taken as Guy Hartnell shared about the Oogly Boogly project, where performers improvised with babies by copying their movements and sounds, while the babies' parents watched. It took place inside a large inflatable venue. The notes were taken by Catherine Ryan. Read more

.You Be Me' - Mental Health Improvisation and Dementia

This was an experimental workshop combining the work of Frank Torino and Richard Coaten who met on the pavement on the way to Day 4. I discovered Frank had an interest in mental health and in improv work with theatre students in Denmark, mine was in how carers of people living with dementia might benefit from having access to improvisation and its role in maintaining their resilience, quality of life and relationship with their loved ones...meta theme - great link made between Franks' You Be Me' Read more

Looking after our Students and Ourselves #GII2019

A session at GII 2019, aimed at looking at how we look after the psychological, spiritual, social and physical needs of ourselves and our students/participants in improvisation classes and sessions. Read more

Coming Back to Earth: Let’s share connecting, grounding practices

Skill sharing session of simple body, mind, spirit practices. Read more

Heavy Metal Musical! Thoughts? Collaborations?

As a lover of musical theatre I am interested in creating a new musical with a heavy metal score. Read more

BAME Leadership for the Future

A conversation about the Creative Arts industry readiness to maximise the potential possibilities of leadership that reflects our ambitions and our practice. Read more

Tour booking to Festivals

Best practice in connecting show to programmer Read more

The Cost of Edinburgh

Session called by Claire Stone, founder of the Cost of Edinburgh campaign (@CostEdinburgh #Cost of Edinburgh on Twitter), to discuss the increasing costs of performing at the Edinburgh Fringe, the impact on artists, industry, venues, audiences, diversity, and how we can increase transparency and positive action on access at the festival. This report covers multiple sessions and contributors over the course of the day at Devoted & Disgruntled, Fringe Central, 20th Aug 2018: https://www.devoteda Read more

Working with technology within creative theatre practice - what's happening and how can we support each other? Where next for this work?

Setting the stage: The Other Way Works uses technology to help with both scaling and making experience seem magical. Often conversations around technology in theatre revolve around marketing and dissemination rather than creative uses. What support exists for developing technology within theatre? Read more

Where are the exciting / progressive places to show Site specific work in Europe?

Brief notes from our discussion follow: How can we find out where these places are? - Ask British Council - Look on Creative Europe, at their funded projects - European Capitals of Culture - Where have other similar companies toured to in the past? Read more

When is it useful/ ok to get angry and act on that anger?

It was a discussion characterised by a lot of laughter, generosity and openness. Thanks everyone for making it something far more useful and constructive than the rant fest I envisioned when I called the session. Read more

What's The Difference Between Artistic Excellence and Artistic Vibrancy

Inspired by my recent work in Australia, informed by the Australia Council's Artistic Vibrancy report and toolkit, I was interested in opening up a converstaion here in the UK because ‘excellence’ is a much used word whereas ‘vibrancy’ rarely uttered (and presumably then, rarely considered and not fully understood). Read more

What is our value to audiences?

This question has been on my mind because in my work in shaping audience and public value, it has always been difficult for venues to articulate their value to audiences. Read more

What Can Theatre Do About ISIS?

No-one’s pretending to know what to do about ISIS, and obviously theatre can’t be the cure for absolutely all the world’s ills: but it might be able to help prevent some people being radicalised. Read more

What are we going to do about theatre/arts criticism? Money, Models and Ethics

The issue of reviewing friends and colleagues- it’s about what the critic and friends/colleagues are comfortable with.It was agreed that it’s bad practice to review shows at a venue where you work. Read more

What are we going to do about the agony of tech desks?

The issue? Desks are typically set out in the auditorium for shows during technical rehearsals. These are arrayed with plans, technical equipment (lighting desks, sound desks, computers etc), notes etc which allow the technical and creative team to do their work to make the show. The desks and seating vary wildly from venue to venue. In some places everything is great. Read more

We don’t always get things right. How can we talk openly about failures and fuck-ups without undermining the case for arts funding?

We don’t always get things right. How can we talk openly about failures and fuck-ups without undermining the case for arts funding? Read more

Violence on stage

I have been researching the French horror theatre, the Grand Guignol, for the past five years, working towards writing a new musical about one of its main artists, Paula Maxa. Named ‘the most assassinated woman in the world’, she was renowned for her nightly executions, torture and trademark scream. Read more

Towards a consortium/network to support small scale venues programming more European work

This action session came out of the session on Sunday “How can we support British venues and audiences take a risk on European theatre?”. All venues are under pressure to maintain audiences and box office in a hard economic climate and are therefore very risk averse. Read more

Total Rebrand - If you could start from scratch and rebrand theatre what would you do?

There are many people who seem like theatre go'ers who don't go to the theatre. there are also lots of people who might not fit with a usual theatre going profile who don't go to the theatre. How can we rebrand theatre to let them know that there is theatre out there that they would love? Read more

Theatre and finding money

This group aimed to find some novel solutions to the ideas around funding and creating a project. Especially for small companies. Below are some of the questions and solutions that came out as part of the conversation. Read more

The London Conundrum (is it possible to freelance outside of the capital)

THIS REPORT IS UNFINISHED I called this session as a Designer living in London and suffering burnout from the amount of work needed to meet the costs of living and thinking about re-locating. In the past year made lots of shows outside of London, however most of the creatives on the projects were London based and many meetings/ rehearsals for those projects happened in London, begging the question, is it possible to sustain a freelance career in theatre outside of London? Read more

The Gift Sessions: Free Regular Open Workshops in Birmingham

Stan's Cafe is looking to celebrate its 25th Birthday by revising/reviving its Gift Session open workshops in 2016. How is this best done? These are the conclusions of this group consultation: Read more

The colonisation of the voice: There’s no such thing as a neutral accent! (Argh!!!)

The colonisation of the voice: There’s no such thing as a neutral accent! (Argh!!!) (Note - the use of the word regional in the context of this report is not intended to mean ‘everywhere outside London’, but instead mean discrete areas that share a geographical and cultural identity) Read more

Some say Youth Theatre is the theatre of the future, but what if the future doesn't know? How can we raise the profile? 2

How can we change the stigma of - it's just theatre for/by kids? What can we do that gets the work recognised? Where are the projects being talked about on a national scale? Read more

Quiet Time: Let's Have A Nap!

This was a chance to slow down, not talk and maybe take a snooze. I took this session to Snail, which seemed to be the slowest and therefore most appropriate space to use. At first, I thought I'd need to move Snail to some other, more cosy, nap-worthy position in the building. But as I sat quietly and waited for co-nappers I realised that there was something good in trying to create a bubble of quiet space on the edge of the Rep's foyer. Read more


I called a session on producing as I did not know what exactly the producers do and because I was looking for a producer. Read more

Producer/Organisational R&D - what would you like to do with the time you don't have?

This was a great session. Thank you to everyone who contributed for your generous thoughts, examples and suggestions. Apologies that I haven’t attributed particular statements to individuals; I didn’t catch everyone’s names. Read more

Posh Crisps

This session was born out of a frustration with posh crisps (and snacks in general) in theatres, but everyone who came helped to articulate the problem more specifically. Read more

Physical Theatre & Verbatim Theatre - creating dynamic performance

Amy and Verity called two separate sessions and then combined them… Verity is creating a physical piece as part of the third year of her degree in Theatre Design and wanted to find out about young companies making exciting work. Amy is a director/maker developing a verbatim piece incorporating movement and original music. Read more

Pay What You Can / Feel

I called the session because I wanted to know more about Pay What You Can / Feel pricing policies, their effectiveness and their current use in the UK: especially in the North/North-East, where the idea’s gaining momentum at the moment. Read more

Okay Okay, I'm Starting A Theatre Company

This is an action session following on from my report earlier this weekend, Alternative Structures in the Real World (do I really have to start a theatre company?) in which I was looking for the lightest, most nimble legal structure available that would allow me to make my work and pay my collaborators. Read more

No I'm not a director (but I will need one) Challenging traditional routes to performance fruition.

I'm a theatre designer/artist exploring theatre process and developing ideas for new works that inspire new writing through design. Read more

My collaborative partner has moved to Sydney- what now?

My reason for calling this was because it was the thing on my mind at this time. We have been devising performance together for about 6 years now. We are also good friends. Read more

Mentoring & Womentoring

I'm part of the Federation of Scottish Theatre's 2016 cohort of mentors on their long-running Step-Up Mentoring scheme[/url]. It's great. So I have been thinking a lot about the importance of holding space for people to think through their issues and concerns. That's what I called this session and it was great to talk about the ways in which we have felt the need for mentoring or support and the ways in which we have been able to provide that to others. Read more

Local Night For Works in Progress.

Local Night For Works in Progress. Read more

Let's Talk About Death

Stella Duffy - I called this session because it's something I'm thinking about a lot right now, and calling it was quite edgy for me, so I'm very grateful to the MANY people who came to the session, for some of whom it was also edgy, for some of whom it was not at all. Read more

Let's chat about alcohol

I called the session as I'm thinking of making a piece about alcohol. I was interested to hear anything people wanted to say about booze. We covered a lot in just an hour. Drinking culture in the theatre: There was unanimous agreement that there can be pressure to drink in the theatre world. Read more

Just Hit Send: Why when a theatre director has an open call for scripts do less women than men submit?

I talked about the workshop I went to with Papa Tango where they talked about how they developed the award winning play Tom Cat and how, actually, they don't need the perfect play submitted, just one that has potential and a story they like. Your play doesn't have to be the best it can be when you send it in. Some directors will work with you to make the play the better. Maybe this kind of information is worth putting in the call out for scripts? Read more

Jack of All Trades Master of None. Do I have a future?

I asked this conversation to take place in order to explore and address some of my own insecurities about training and specialisation. I have taken part in numerous different tasks, projects and jobs that require various different skills ranging from artistic to administrative. Read more

It's Behind You! Why do we always forget panto?

The question was stimulated by many of the other questions that were being asked about theatre for young audiences, theatre for intergenerational audiences, extra live theatre, theatre for diverse audiences and the financial difficulties we all face. It struck me that this form of theatre has a really wide appeal and does really well at the box office BUT we (people at D&D) never talk about panto. Why is this? Read more

I want to take The Muppets to The Globe

I want to bring the Muppets to the Globe This topic came as a drunken idea when watching the Muppets. “Kermit would make a great Hamlet” I announced. “Piggy would be a great Lady Macbeth “so said my partner. Read more

I''m an Emerging Writer. Help! / How do we talk about work we haven't made yet?

The idea of building writer/director partnerships was then put forward. Particularly for emerging writers, to have a collaborative partner come in on a project early for discussion/suggestion was deemed really valuable. Pinterest was suggested as a good way to facilitate this relationship, particularly if the people involved have strong visual imaginations. It also keeps things fluid and flexibl Read more

Images from 'Improving the quality and profile of Theatre for Young Audiences'

I joined this session for a while when the discussion included the seasonality of theatre for family audiences and the cultural expectation around what is suitable material for these shows. Read more

Images from "We Don’t Always Get Things Right. How Can We Talk Openly About Failures And Fuck-Ups Without Undermining The Case For Arts Funding?"

I attended this session in its early stages where contrasts were made between the approach to mistakes in the aviation industry and the arts. I stayed also for discussion about what is most helpful to people (rather than funders) in evaluation processes. Read more

Images from Let's Talk About Death

I made some sketches during the Lets Talk About Death session and have attached a few of them below. Read more

Improving the quality and profile of Theatre for Young Audiences

We have a different attitude to children and families in the UK than in other countries. The best directors, creatives and actors in the UK tend not to create work for children and young audiences. Read more

Improvised Shakespeare

2016 is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. Would be fun to do something to give people an alternative route in here. (Kids, non-theatre types, anyone who doesn't already “do” Shakespeare.) Read more

How will artists and arts organisations engage with the EU referendum debate

fifth time attending DandD and first time i have called a session. Decided not to sulk at lack of attendance and used the time to track the crucial East Midlands derby - Northampton Saints vs Leicester Tigers. Read more

How to use the arts to raise awareness of Autism

The last of my 3 sessions, this one relating to said report title (cliché saying that I know…), with people who attended the session writing down what they think can be done, the answers that were written down on the notes by them are as follows (like before), brace yourselves for more “We can”s… again…: Read more

How to produce when you are not a producer?

Jolie (produces “tourette's hero” and “backstage and biscuitland”) described her path to becoming a producer. Having met many freelance producers eg at Edinburgh she says she hears similar stories from most of them. She became a producer by accident. Read more

How might our public funders better support, engage and resource the Independent Theatre sector?

A broad discussion was had. Below is a summary of the key headline discussion had, and area for action. What do we mean by independent? Read more

How do we make work that engages people across generations?

This question arose from a project that the company I co-run, The Equilibrium, is working on. The project is called “Vintage Humans” and we have asked writers from theirs 20s up to their 80s to respond to a brief that questions why we find value and beauty in older objects and less in older people. We are staging a two day pilot festival of eight new plays at Southwark Playhouse in May this year. Read more

How do we make our case?....OR....Can their ever be equality between the provider of work and the receiver of work? ( and is that desirable?)

….this report is sort of finished… I chose the space ‘Monkey’. Because my brother was a monkey and my sister is: In chinese horoscopes: which I don't follow. Read more

How do we include artists with learning difficulties?

The overall discussion was about how the sector feels like it needs a separate identity to being bunched in with disability, as the needs can often be quite different. Also it feels scattered, so most of the conversation was around events to connect further at and people to speak to, which I shall now list… Read more

How did *you* earn a living last year?

This was a kind of “confessional” session to give people a space to talk about their relationship with work, money and other people. Read more

How can we support regional theatres to employ actors based in their region?

How can we support regional theatres to employ actors based in their region? Read more

How can we push forward specialised work for audiences with learning disabilities and complex needs?

“The learning disability sector ends up talking to itself” (RH), we need to share skills outwards. It's only fairly recently that artists have been put together with people with learning disabilities, that this is seen as beneficial or valuable. It is a very new sector, and it would be to our advantage to actively seperate ourselves from the sector of physical disabilities. People with learning disabilities need advocates, or their very different needs get overlooked. Read more

How can we promote lesser known art forms?

There's no magic bullet. Find a great example of the thing you like and promote it. Work hard to find an audience. Think in more creative ways about who might be interested. No substitute for this kind of work and somehow, eventually, things will hopefully click. Read more

How can we help/support British venues and audiences take a risk on European theatre?

How can we help/support British venues and audiences take a risk on European theatre? Many venues still say that they cannot take a risk on European theatre as they “don’t have an audience” or “we tried it and it didn’t work”. Read more

How can we be helping people with disabilities/conditions break into theatre & the performing arts/make access easier?

I held the first of three sessions (busy I was!), this one relating to said report title, with people who attended the session writing down what they think can be done, the answers that were written down on the notes by them are as follows: Read more

How can individual artists and small companies stay creative when there is so much admin to do?

During the session it became apparent that this is something a lot of artists are struggling with, spending a greater amount of time on administrative tasks than on their art. Whilst the admin clearly isn't going to go away, there were lots of useful suggestions about how to better manage our time so we can sustain our creativity and mental well-being. Read more

How Birmingham REP & other theatres can help showcase talents in the world of theatre & performing arts.

I held the second of my 3 sessions, this one relating to said report title (I'm on fire!), with people who attended the session writing down what they think can be done, the answers that were written down on the notes by them are as follows (like before), brace yourselves for more “We can”s: Read more

Have you come to Theatre from another profession?

A common helpful catalyst to 3 out of the 5 participants was Julia Cameron and her wonderful nurturing book The Artists Way. For me personally, the book helped me celebrate my decision to go from disgruntled & paid to disgruntled & now devoted. At DandD11 and in real life finding myself amidst discussions on how to get paid for that devotion, I have concluded: its not just about having that “one idea of success” in my mind become reality; but really allowing myself to trust the process of chang Read more

Hard to Reach? Engaging adults who don't go to the theatre: What's happening, and what should be?

The discussion began with questioning what is meant by “hard to reach.” Terminology within and around arts organisations changes regularly and rapidly, with work focused around “audience development”, “new audiences”, “areas of low engagement” and “cultural cold spots” (to name but a few). Read more

From Playwright to Theatremaker - how?

How do you make the transition from playwright to theatremaker? What does it mean to identify yourself in these different ways, and does it even matter? Below are just some of the themes that came up. Read more

Fighting To Keep Creativity in Education. The Cult of Mediocrity

It began with a discussion of experiences of people involved in education as teachers or lecturers and the intense pressure to teach to exams and marginalize creativity. -Is the exam system the best placeto nurture creativity? -Shutting down the arts in education. Read more

Feminist criticism / reviews of theatre and performing arts - is it useful? - What would you contribute?

We discussed what is a ‘feminist’ review and what is a ‘feminist’ show? We had to define feminism, those attending agreed this to be (the pursuit of) gender equality. Read more

Equality and Balance - what are we/theatres/writers doing about the gender balance on stage?

Men make up 49.1% and women make up 50.8% of the population. I asked this question because when I go to the theatre I often find myself distracted during the performance because I am counting how many men are on stage and how many women. Read more

Dreams and a Heart: help me to put dreams and hearts into 38 dolls and we will reach a 1000 together!

I can't even believe that we have completed together 1000 dolls!!!!! Read more

Does Anyone Talk About Circus?

KK - Surprised and delighted to see so many people at this session - thank you! OO - Contemporary circus is quite a niche area, so you have to be within the dense arts environment of London for it to seem familiar. Outside of London venues are scared of the language used and unsure of what audiences they can draw in. Circus feels like a big risk to them. Read more

Diversity: what does it mean & how do we see real change?

The following are some of the themes that came out of the session: - The conversation around diversity has been taking place for many decades (just different words and terminologies). Read more

Disability + 'otherness' and encouraging colour brave casting

By “othering”, we mean the process, actions or words which can make an individual or group feel isolated. IE a group or individual identifying another person as ‘not one of us’. Social codes, subtle or extreme, along with stigmas are often attributed to the excluded group, individual or body. They are reduced to a singular meaning which ignores the many intersectional characteristics and experiences every person has in their lives. Read more

Devoted & Disgruntled 12 and beyond - where & how?

Our annual D&D gathering has taken place in London for ten years. We took the decision to try Birmingham for D&D 11 for a few different reasons. • The conversation about London-centric funding and culture is becoming increasingly important. Read more

Crew For Calais - How we are going to help deal with a Humanitarian Crisis using theatre skills.

#CrewForCalais is a movement of organisations and individuals from within the theatre community who are working to build flatpack shelters to house some of the most vulnerable refugees in Calais. We have a tried and tested design. We have drawings and plans. We have contacts working on site in Calais. Read more

Creative Producing- What is it?

Creative producing is a term that has emerged over the past 20 years, but its definition is very much up for discussion. I was interested to learn how other artists, producers and creatives percieve the term ‘Creative Producer’ as opposed to simply ‘Producer’ and how their expectation of this persons role changes depending on how they define themselves. Read more

Creating More Positive & Celebratory Queer Narratives on Stage

It can sometimes feel that there are only two types of queer narrative on stage; the “doom and gloom” stories focusing on the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community which rarely end well for those that dare to stand up to the normative societal structures, and the “fripperous” stories where queer characters are reduced to the comic relief and stereotypes. Is there a way that we can create more celebratory queer narratives and increase the profile of LGBTQ + characters in the theatre that we create? Read more

Clothing Optional Theatre - for performer and audience

My thanks to S S E R B D C L P and J for being in our session. I am choosing not to list their names or emails because the discussion became very personal and open. Feel free to connect with me if you would like to know more, and I will be developing a small confidential email list for further discussion. Read more

Can we make theatre about politics/social issues that changes people’s minds and behaviour (and how?)

People engage more with real/normal human characters – feelings effected through the audience relating to the characters. Anecdotal human examples/stories are key. People’s opinions are more easily swayed by the people they love, therefore it helps to create characters that the audience feel attached to. Read more

Brilliant theatre for the 21st century - what shall we make?

I've been creating theatre outdoors on a large scale for the last few years. Arriving into this space and considering the challenges for makers of largely indoor theatre, I find myself wondering about the possibilities of indoor theatre in the context of such a wide range of experiences and entertainment on offer, online, on screens, and live. What are your thoughts? Read more

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (or how to end an artistic relationship positively)

As a community we talk a lot about how venues should support artists. More money, more space, more dates, more artist development opportunities. Across the country we now have all kinds of venues establishing really great relationships with artists and their work, and when this works it is fantastic. Read more

Birmingham Improv Festival: What should we be doing?

Radio. Keen for content. Angle is “Birmingham's first ever xxx”. Press. Comedy/theatre reviewer in local papers? Write a press release now. Can always re-write it closer to the time. Contact people who've run other improv festivals. They'll probably give you useful info & spread the word in the community. Read more

Bilingual Theatre - BSL and English

A rich discussion covering much ground attended by deaf artists, deaf access organisations, BSL interpreters, and companies seeking an integrated script/performance accessible to all audiences (deaf and hearing). Read more

Being Fearless in the face of Fears (Yours & Others)

A fantastic session graced by the contributions of very open and experienced artists. As artists, we are constantly driven by our need to find our magic and keep it alive. Be it on a page, on stage, on a canvas, any collaboration, really. Read more

Authentic Artist Birmingham? Interested? Who should I talk to?

The Authentic Artist is a 3-day workshop that has run 34 times in London and various places in Scotland, but never in Birmingham. Guided by Kath Burlinson, it offers artists from all disciplinary backgrounds an opportunity to work in a safe space, to take risks, to try out new work/ideas or to rejuvenate. Read more

Audiences: What do they know?

There are many kinds of relationships with audiences and to some extent they depend upon the kind of theatre we are talking about. Small and intimate spaces are able to promote a sense of shared ownership whereas large scale venues can struggle to achieve this. The experience for audiences is different but there is a sense that they are becoming more discriminating with an expectation of better quality theatre. Read more

Ask The Animals: Problem Solving With Puppets

I called this session because I've begun using puppetry to help artists talk and think about their work. I've used Critical Response Process to facilitate artist-centred feedback on performances and work in progress. And I've used puppets within workshop and classroom settings to give people feedback and encouragement on their work. Read more

Arts and Elders

Group convened to discuss working with older people on arts participation projects and programming. Read more

Artist Using the Benefit during the 'In-between'

Summery of Discussion > Difficult to work full time and then create, devise, research your work or develop your Art's Practice. > It is scary to think of how you have to juggle working and claiming on the ‘In-between’. > The current benefit system is difficult for artist's. > They need a system that helps artist's that have no money to support themselves in-between jobs. Read more

Alternative Structures in the Real World (do I really have to start a theatre company?)

I am an independent theatre maker, often self-producer, and have been resisting the idea of starting up a theatre company for some time. I don't know how it works over here and I've been dragging my feet on finding out. (I started my career in the U.S. and one of the things that I really like about the UK landscape is that in theory you can get funding as an individual artist.) Read more

African Diaspora Performance Heritage

I proposed this title as focus group plans and meetings were already underway. I thought it would be a good opportunity to see what responses might be raised here at D&D. First time at D&D. It was a spur of the moment lurch. I was encouraged by Phelim saying if it was important to you then it was important to all of us. Also ALL VOICES MUST BE HEARD. Read more