I suspect we can definitely learn some things from the music industry, but I’m not sure what those things are…. 

Convener(s): Simon Day          

Participants: Malim Forbes, Lucy Cassidy, Angela Unsworth, James Stenhouse, Katherine Warman, Jonathan and various others

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Direct analogies would always falter, but where a comparison could be used as a way to re imagine some possibilities, some topics emerged that got people going. Underneath it all, shared recognition that there’s obviously something about liveness/ephemera that makes theatre a problem but also what makes it close to our hearts.

The Record Label

Interested people because of associations with idea of a venue, a producer and by extension, any way in which a brand (although a lot of people had trouble with that word…) is used to put some kind of stamp on work to build a relationship with audience. I.e. I’ll try to this gig, show, film or buy this record because I trust who’s chosen to programme it/support it etc.

TRUST was a big issue.

Expanding what’s possible

It was raised that music is everywhere for most people; its presence on something as simple as the radio for instance makes it effectively part of the wallpaper. To buy music or go to a gig is therefore so much more readily imagined by so many more people when compared to going to the theatre which in some ways then becomes ‘harder’ to do. It asked how this idea could be translated into our world? How can theatre be made part of the wallpaper?

Big fish and little fish

Support bands. Great idea, but a surprising lack of experimentation in theatre land with the same principal. One practitioner reported that they were made associate artists to an established company and played in the same venue the week later, but none of the audience showed. The initiative has now been cancelled.

Gold stars awarded to producers and initiatives that were using a similar idea, but piggy backing on a captive audience, by programming small pieces in theatre foyers before and after shows or during intervals.

May be stand-up comedy offers the clearest a most deliberate theatrical model to the music industry? “Hammocking” similar to the support band model, where a less established comic appears in between two stalwarts.

Associated idea was that the main-stage/studio structure could be seen as theatre’s manifestation of this – we weren’t sure to what extent big spaces were still to be seen as subsidising smaller ones in theatre buildings. Edinburgh also interesting, where a smaller venue might sit next to a little one, and suck in the big crowds.


In music, it’s all about Maverick label bosses or innovative producers and there are parallels in Theatre world who are curating and programming interesting work. Festivals such as ATP, and other strands that invited guest curators were talked about. 

Social networking and mates

Power of this trend can’t be ignored. Intriguing thing that translates is its basis from a marketing view of recommendations and friends etc. New audiences most likely to come because a friend has invited you. You’ll listen to something because your friends tell you to. A ticket stub idea that gets you into one show and then another for free. Apparently, the idea of a Virgin Card was bandied around at a previous D&D for people who had never been to the theatre before – what happened to that little gem?


Big issue re difference’s in industries, re how the thing is consumed. A new model or organisation inspired by the record label would have to recognise this


FRESH a good example of a response to much of the ideas, but was it unsustainable? Was there too much pressure on just one producer to maintain something? A related D&D idea of the Gang was raised, a mutually supportive bunch of collectives who pledge commitment to a shared vision.