Is it time to de-centralize the Theatre Industry

Convener(s): Chris Hallam

Participants: Included: Alyson McKechnie, Claire Stappleton, Solene Marie


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Is there a perception that the industry demands that creatives have to be based in London or to receive London approval to be validated? 

Are we too dependent on the industry being based here?

France instigated de-centralization – encouraging co-productions in the regions. However, reputation is gained in Paris but the money is in the regions. Is it the same here?

France has developed regionally specializations i.e. Puppetry in one region, street theatre another.

NTS still centred in Glasgow and known for that but they work outwards from there.

Should the NT have a hub in each of the regions?

Should a selection of the best of theatre in the regions go on a rolling tour. Theatre that tours nationally from the nation, to include London as a region rather that the centre.

NTW tours village halls as much as large venues.

De-centralization costs more as the creatives based in London would have to travel more to work outside of London – huge travel costs  OR would cost less as the creatives live and work in their regions particularly but may travel between to spread the work. More cross pollination rather than it just rising from London.

Audiences – London theatre seems to be made for other artists rather than public, regional theatre is more audience focused.

London is a melting pot which is fantastic and is needed, but that doesn’t seem to be pushed outwards as much as it should. London can do very specialized detailed projects well where a concentration of money and skill is needed on specific projects. Why can they not be replicated in regional centres?

While critics won’t travel outside London regularly artists will always feel they need to come to London to receive recognition.

NT Studio is able to attract directors and associates etc to see new artists who wouldn’t normally travel out of London.

Can we break the need to be London? We get more input and inspiration feeding into our work in London.

Critical discourse needs to be in other places outside London.

A need to re-balance the need to come to London, stay regional and be proud of that.

Paines Ploughs announcing not to play a show in London for 2 years will be an interesting to see what happens. However, their admin and creative team are still here.

It is not just theatre but the whole social infrastructure need decentralization.

Top down and from grass roots up. Pissing in the wind to try and change it.

So many artists are not from London but are here for work but would rather be elsewhere. Here out of necessity.

The biggest shift would be if the Arts Council funded regionally per head of population across the country as opposed to London (10% of the population) receiving 50% (Appx.) of funding.

Are we not encouraging actors and young artists to think outside London in their training.

We should encourage artists to be what they are wherever they are.

Why do we always define success by working in London?

Should we run London as region rather than the centre of the arts.

There is a feeling that the best actors are based in London.