Funding and the value we place on the arts.

Convener(s): 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:

  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • “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.
  • 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’.
  • It would be good to be able to articulate you’re a theatre maker without meeting with silence (in the pub, for instance)
  • There are many routes into disseminating the message that we’re of value
  • For instance, it was posited that you can and should open a dialogue about your practice, process, outcomes….
  • It was posited there’s an elephant in the room –there are those who want to keep things elitist and exclusive.
  • It was proposed that the easy option is to make work that involves the community rather than just make ‘traditional’ theatre.
  • We should ask: “what do we do, what can we bring to this?” – a conversation to be had with those not in the industry.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • We should and how do we celebrate what we do.
  • We likened theatre to football – the impetus is all on the premiership, as such.
  • 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 creative 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.