Dan Barnard, 26 January 2014

Session called by: Dan Barnard

Present: John Walton, Rosalie White, Frances Rifkin, Corrine Wahlberg

We discussed the idea that theatre can encourage more active citizenship and how we

might be able to make that case to politicians

We discussed how many politicians had seen shows that we were involved in and

realised that politicians do go to the theatre, which is a good start.

The idea of routinely inviting MPs to our shows then talking to them (gently) afterwards

came up. And finding ways to get in touch with them through 6 degrees of separation

type methods and through directly writing to them etc. Adopting a really non

confrontational approach and dialogue. The Shakespeare Schools Festival for

example got Michael Gove to come and got him enthused.

As an alternative tactic, the idea of all theatres and theatre artists going on strike for a

week was discussed - which has come up in other sessions. We talked about how if

this happened we would have to have a really clear case and really clear points to

make and probably get celebrities to make these points.

We talked about how, if we could engage a wider range of the public in the arts then

politicians might be more sympathetic - and that we need to think more radically about

how to do this e.g taking more work outside for free etc - which many people are

already doing. Or having arts at community events - and inviting politicians to these so

that they could kill many birds with one stone.

The importance of getting non artists to lobby politicians about the arts was discussed

- which the What Next movement is also talking about. For example the video games

industry is advocating for the arts because the arts trains people in the creativity they

need for game design. Also getting school teachers and school pupils to advocate for

the difference the arts have made for them - the voices that the What Next national

meeting showcased.

We discussed the element of glamour that we can offer as a sector to politicians.

Overall the group felt that a really non confrontational approach might work best -

although there were dissenting voices who felt that it was in fact a total waste of time

to lobby politicians and that we should stop bothering.

The idea of for example giving audience members postcards to their MP at the end of

the show which said I love theatre because… or something. Or giving exit cards with

the company's mailing list, Twitter etc plus a link to lobbying websites such as

mytheatrematters - or an alternative site.

The idea of having post show discussions on particular themes and, if there was a

theme that was of interest to an MP, inviting them to come and speak at that - so that

they were getting an audience as well as being engaged in the arts.

We discussed the important role that the arts play in facilitating community cohesion

and agreed that it was important to make this case more clearly.

We thought of, for example, a campaign in which we explain what the arts could do if

all tax payers contributed a penny more every year. Or just made the case for how

much we do compared to how little the public pay more clearly. Making the case for

the real value for money that the arts is.

We talked about how rationally the arts don't seem like a humanity but that people do

need more than material things - and always have - and have always made art. But

that this value is often non financial (which was also discussed in other sessions.


politicians, lobbying, community, education, Community, citizenship, Funding, funding,

Education, MPs, outdoor arts