Devoted and Disgruntled 9
What are we going to do about theatre and the performing arts?
 Facilitated by Phelim McDermott
25th-27th January 2014
York Hall, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PJ
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An invitation from our co-artistic director, Phelim McDermott:

Now that it's in its ninth year I'd love to tell you this event isn’t needed anymore, that our organisations, artists, audiences, producers and our wide performing community are as connected up all through the year as they would be at a D&D event, but they aren't. Not even close.

To begin, let me go back to that first invite: in 2003 I asked you to come to a conference where we could work fast and effectively on the stuff that needed to happen in theatre, to spread the word about what we were doing well and work hard on changing the things we could be doing better. I called it Devoted and Disgruntled in the hope that people would realise I didn’t want it to be a moaning shop; I wanted connection and a home for people's dreams to be nurtured. I wanted people to find a place they could have the difficult conversations that are necessary for change - that's exactly what D&D has become.

I've seen people change and grow during D&D over these last nine years, and it really is only the beginning. I've watched people ask where the leaders are that the community needs and slowly realise that they are those leaders - I've watched people step into their power. Sometimes they stepped into that role out of passion, sometimes out of anger, wanting to claim the right to do what needed to be done to improve the state of the arts in this country. The result: festivals, venues, companies, projects, deeper relationships, births – it’s abundantly clear by now that D&D is more, much more, than a talking shop. The talk that takes place at a D&D event results in extraordinary initiatives.

So as I write this I feel as passionate and frustrated as I did nine years ago when I sent out that first invite. I feel hugely excited by the pioneering theatre-makers whom I know are out there, connecting up and making beautiful work, and deeply saddened by the present backlash against the arts. It’s not a backlash because the arts aren't valuable: it’s because the arts are incredibly valuable and more than that they are powerful. The arts are the place where we can still ask the difficult questions, still imagine better worlds: if artists and theatre makers can’t tell stories of revolution, change and possibility, who will do it? We need these stories, now more than ever. So I will be there in January again, to create some space for those seeds of possibility to grow - will you join me?

D&D is only ever as vital as the people who come so if you think this event is not for you, do come; if you've been every year, come again; if you have been to a few, missed a few, please come back; if you have almost made it but never quite got there, make it this year; if there are people that you wish would come but never have, invite them yourself; if you think we are a group of people that only have one identity come and challenge us.

There is no better place than at D&D to hold the dreams that we need to keep safe, the values and meaningful ideas that are going to take us through the next year and beyond. Come and do the work to make this event unnecessary in years to come, to make a world that is connected and vital and thriving.

Phelim McDermott
Co-Artistic Director, Improbable

Booking for this event has now closed.