Do commissioners favour cliques and if so does it matter?

Gill Kirk, 30 June 2012

- Gill Kirk, Emily Williams, Monique Luckman, Rew Lowe

In Devon, there's a lack of connectivity and cliques haven't had a chance to form. Any cliques are around venues. In Bristol, there is a perception of cliques.

However, if venues or producers are pursuing artistic agendas, then it's fair enough - as long as everyone knows what they are, what the selection or inclusion criteria are, and so transparency is absolutely vital to avoid perceptions of favouritism or cliques.

If you are commissioning, it's important to define the boundaries and frameworks in which you operate. Agree who sets the artistic agenda and whether it's a straight money for ideas commission or a co-production.

As all through this discussion its about clarity, transparency, managing expectations.

Also language used.

A good degree of working again and again with the same people is OK and people understand that as long as enough fresh poeople are encouraged and allowed to get involved, particularly if they don't look like identikit versions of the commissioners themselves.

Theatre Bristol and other networks are great resources and make this a fertile place to make work. But there is a risk of over-developement and R&D where it feels as though promises are made to makers and then they ared let down without knowing why they haven't succeeded when they think they did all they were told to do.

Comes down to honest feedback at this point - without it, people wonder what the criteria are, start to come up with ideas and theories that then become dodgy legend over the years. Simple transparency and honesty would help develop artists and trust with commissioners.

If you cannot get involved with intimate commissioner networks (eg by working in the same venue or organisation, or having drinks, sharing a house) because you're a parent, carer, busy worker etc, then you need to find other ways to network, like this event, and go around those other relationship-developers.

Also a question of whether Bristol really needs this D&D; there has been much development along these lines here; Cheltenham could have gained.


transparency, cliques, co-production, questions, commissioning, development, networks, Funding, funding, feedback, support