Janet Morris, 27 January 2013

Janet Morris called the session. Joined by (amongst others) Claire S, Sasha B,

Melanie G, Keir C, Jo C, Amy L, Mark, Ashy S, John.

Looking for ways of involving the audience beyond fundraising; breaking down the

barriers between theatre-makers (insiders) & theatre-goers (outsiders). Proactive

advocacy by theatre-goers on the value of the arts TO THEM. Advocacy could include

lobbying government, funders,

- Already some venues respond to their communities, e.g. selecting the topics to be

covered in their programming

- Mousetrap charity for young people: weekly meetings, own awards, free tickets for


- Old Vic New Voices community projects: cross-generations and areas

- Forum theatre: dual advocacy, i.e. performers as advocates and audience actively

involved in changing the performance

- Beyond a post-show discussion, led by professionals, with the audience invited to

ask questions. Why not audience members leading the discussion and inviting the

professionals to join the debate? Led by theatre-goers

- London Bubble Theatre: intergenerational projects; involve community in shaping

and researching the projects (as well as in theatre making)

- Key is relationship: current model embeds an imbalance of power

- Making theatre in someone's home - changes the dynamics

- RSC Discovery programme - targeted at younger people but this has been running

for a while, and as they grow up they continue to be involved. So - longer term, they

are developing an empowered audience organically

- Barrier of stage space vs audience seating: maybe a post-show discussion with the

audience on the stage?

- Other groups already have discussions about plays, not directed by theatre groups

(e.g. University of Third Age Is it possible for such a group to be given space within a

theatre (no cost to theatre)?

-Aim for equality in the discussion, informality, as between theatre-goers and


- Open rehearsals (already happen regularly for music performances) - what are the

implications? Do theatre companies do this (e,.g. Cheek by Jowl??)

- Acknowledged that lots of audience members don't want to enter into debate,

discussion BUT are there plenty who do and whose voice isn't being heard in the

wider arena?

- Is the key to focus on a local context, to empower people to feel “ownership” or

“entitlement” in relation to their local theatre?

- Meeting Up groups already exist: can be organised by anyone, anywhere. on a topic

that they choose Will that, however, give sufficient profile to the debate? Would it have

greater impact if it were organised at a theatre venue?

- Consider the model of Open House, the annual architectural event that mobilises

thousands of people who are not architectures or related professionals

- Social media allows for the multiplier effect

- Is it really only the theatre-makers who have responsibility to advocate the value of

the arts?


Audiences, discussions, Discussions, value, audiences, arts, engagement,

Community, lobbying, community, empower, ownership, Arts, Value, Open House,