Dan Barnard, 26 January 2014

Session called by: Dan Barnard

Present: Natalie Querest, Jaye Kearney, Ross Harvie, Emma Rucastled, Emma

Nutland, Aliki Chapple, Rich Warburton, Jenny Lee, Mhairi Grealis, Olivia Amory,

Joseph Mercier, Claire Symonds, Owen Calvert-Lyons, John O'Donovan, Annie

Fitzmaurice, Fergus Evas, Amy Letman

Structure: Context at the beginning, action points more at the end.


This conversation came out of What Next conversations about how to be more

connected as a national ecology.

The group discussed ways in which we feel disconnected - a programmer reported

that there had been a new Artistic Director of a venue 20 minutes away who had been

appointed over a year ago and they had only just got round to meeting. This might be

because people are very busy, because they are too self-absorbed. This could create

programming problems and clashes - for example why is there not more co-ordination

between different bits of programming to commemorate the anniversary of the first

world war. A suggested remedy - “I should pick up the bloody phone and call the

nearby venues.”

There was a perception that in some areas less peer review was happening than had


Strategic touring produced by a partnership of say 3 regional venues is starting to

connect things up more.

The group discussed the importance of celebrating the good examples of


There was discussion of the regional infrastructures that were starting to develop - for

example the County Cultural Forum in Hampshire, the House Network in the South

East, the Compass Live Art Network in the Manchester region.

D&D is an example of something that connects people.

Social networks such as Twitter help connect people - especially after they have met

in person once. It allows people to feel more in a national loop.

The important point was made that this is not just a conversation about connecting

London and elsewhere - it is about different regions/towns/cities connecting with each


Someone present had been on a cultural exchange between Glasgow and the North

East and had learned a great deal from the many ways in which Scotland does things

differently. For example there is a strong network of regional hubs and strong support

for rural touring.

People said they felt that venues in the north east were collaborating more with each

other but that there was a lack of collaboration between the north-east and the

north-west. When asked what was facilitating this collaboration within the north east it

was felt that this was essentially about venue artistic directors being in touch with each

other, seeing each others work, sharing ideas etc.

Artists present felt that it was less important for work to have to got to London to

become meaningful now, which was a good thing.

ITC is thinking more now about where to hold its events in order for more different

regions to feel part of the conversation.

Many artists get good at touring within their regional network but then struggle with

touring outside that region - which would help their work become more financially


Possible Action Points

The best places where artists and programmers currently meet and share ideas are

festivals like Sample, Mayfest, Pulse, Transform, Mayfest. B-fest get people to eat

together which really helps facilitate conversation. What could other festivals do to

facilitate more dialogue at their festivals? Or are the informal conversations enough?

It was felt that before a good national collaboration could take place, a stronger

infrastructure would have to be in place within regions. It was important for venues

within a region to get over a perceived sense of competition. In Manchester and

Salford a monthly “programmers pints” has started happening - which is set up as just

a social event but is developing into a closer collaboration. Venues in the city are

starting to co-present work, to discuss their relationships with artists with each other,

to be less possessive about artists. This was benefiting both the programmers and the


The idea of more national networks within specialisms was discussed e.g a network of

people who specialise in developing and supporting artists -which had also been

discussed in other sessions. This could be started by a venue hosting the first

meeting, inviting other venues and thereafter it could revolve between venues.

Also there was the idea of a national network of people who programme contemporary

new work. There is a theatre for young audiences programmer's network founded by

the Half Moon which a programmer present had found really helpful as a way of

finding out about things to programme

An idea of a group of three companies who can share set elements and lighting rig

approaching venues to ask to be programmed for a week between them.

The idea of more organisations having someone from another part of the country on

their Board was discussed - someone present was doing this - it is a lot of time on the

train but then you can fit in all your meetings in that place in on the day when you

travel for the board meeting. She found this a useful and beneficial thing.

A strong national network might be produced by strengthening regional networks and

then those networks hooking up with each other.


artists, Festivals, venues, Touring, festivals, Venues, Artists, Manchester, Developing

Artists, London, National, North East, what next, national, What Next, Programmers,

Regional, South East, North West, touring, south east, london