I don’t want to be so bloody grumpy: help!

What frustrates/irritates/angers/disappoints and what do we do to move through this/use it

Convener(s): Rod Dixon

Participants: Chris Hallam, Timothy Bird, Finlay Robertson, Hugh Hayes, Lucy Bradshaw, Julia Voce …. Then loads of others who joined/stayed and left or returned.


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Fin:     You know that time when you are stuck listening to someone in conversation & you don’t want to continue with the conversation but you’re too polite…?? you fixate on their face trying not to look bored, then your biscuit soaks up your tea and breaks…sinking into your cup… that is a time which makes me feel grumpy with myself for not being able to find a way to politely escaping…


This led to a long discussion about how to be authentic or is it honest? In our world this honesty is not very common – indeed it is rare. We are not very good at taking responsibility for our true feelings. So…how when a friend asks us to see their show and our true feeling is that we didn’t enjoy it – how do we give negative feedback?

We are so used to being crushed as workers ourselves – we don’t get funding or we don’t get a show programmed into a building etc etc – maybe that is why we are so reluctant to give negative feedback to friends people we love/respect/admire… maybe we therefore overvalue eachother?


The question was raised that perhaps we believe we are more creative than workers in other sectors – this arrogance possibly goes into the way we value or undervalue or criticize the work of colleagues.


Someone asked “What is grumpiness?”

Peth replied “It’s a prejudice I allow myself” He then went on to suggest that we need neutral mediators to create a safer space to offer useful critique of our work thereby avoiding the feeling of being attacked.


Is the approach to begin positively…”I really like you but your work is shit/poor/flawed/ blah blah”


Someone suggested that we are working in a culture of (particularly from buildings) asking for feedback but not really listening to that feedback. This provoked discussion of Scratch Nights. These should be places for authentic responses – the best scratch nights allow an audience to give their authentic response. This then led to a discussion about what IS an authentic conversation. Phelim pointed out that audience feedback/feedback from other artists can too often polarize us – we feel the person takes a position and berates us. Perhaps in an authentic conversation both participants get to a place which surprises them – not one they are trying to force the other into.

What language are we talking in? Are we embarking on a conversation in which you are my friend? My critic?

Phelim quoted

“Advice without empathy is toxic”

The point was made that the experience of D&D allows us to be more authentic because we all feel on the same level – this was not the experience of SOTA 12 which was depressing and not a place where “we could all participate”.

What about our work? Should we prepare ourselves better for feedback by being clear about the end point of a piece – what is its benefit as a piece of work. So …how do we define usefulness? Too often work is defined in monetary terms – its financial value. Was the argument against the cuts that the Arts contribute to the economy playing into the hands of those who oppress us? Justifying our work in capitalist terms. Peth pointed out that the word economy does not have to be about money that is their language not ours. The value of work should be set by us – the makers. 

Dan Bye reminded  us that this is really a time for optimism – we are all part of a movement for change – and it has started we no longer have to wait for it – we are IN it now. Someone followed this with the comment that often limitations create more – but don’t deny your inner grump!