Ian Pugh, 27 January 2013

Participants : David Cottis, Richard Jaques, Robert Wells, Ian Bradford Ngongotaha

Pugh, (while not a butterfly or bumble bee - Kirsty Lothian did keep coming and

interrupting, and so I consider her to have participated).

Break out space: Tortoise

Day: 2

Session 7

This idea first came up at a drunken Christmas party. However, even after sober, this

silly idea still seemed to have some actual currency (not a lot mind you, so don't

expect too much from this session)

So the notion was does it make sense to bring back patronage as a viable way to

produce theatre? `certainly in a broad sense, theatre is supported by patrons - from

individual ticket holders to monies donated from large corporations or foundations. But

in this session we talked about how individual groups, families, businesses could

wholly sponsor a company, season, or production. The initial thought was looking at

the way court masques were created, funded by the wealthiest of the population - the


There seemed to be an opinion in those in attendance that while the masque itself

might be gone, there still exists examples of such large scale pageantry in Britain.

Opera (ENO), Danny Boyles' 2012 Olympic ceremony, as well as the Thames

Pageant (for Liz's Jubilee) were offered as prime examples. War Horse by The

National was brought up - a special showing at Buckingham Palace had taken place -

so plays can still find their way into court life…

It was pointed out that the royals aren't quiet as wealthy these days, and so we looked

at the new aristocracy for solutions - the 1%.

The discussion, on several fronts, returned to a question about how one maintains

artistic integrity when funding is held by a single patron. As masques were often

created to celebrate the vanity of the patron, such concerns seemed apropos. One

participant, however, noted that it seems a bit late to be worrying about this once you

have decided to go down this road - it's of course part of the job to curry the support of

a patron…I would also add that there is nothing wrong with creating theatre in a

bespoke fashion for an individual - I do not propose patronage to replace other funding

and production methods.

There was some discussion about the use of the “Royal” moniker and how (easily) a

company can go about its inclusion in their name.

Moving away from the royal patronage notion we came up with a short list of

individuals who might be in a good position to serve as sponsors theatrical works.

Richard Branson came up - as did Bill and Melinda Gates, and Donald Trump. I

wondered why these super-rich people were not supporting theatre more directly. I

envision that by being a theatre's patron it would give the person a certain social

cache. It would also be a good way to give back to their communities. Clearly it isn't

being done, so how can we encourage the 1% to spend their vast wealth on what we,

as theatre practioners, feel would be a valuable endeavour? We had no idea what the

answer to this question might be, but it seemed that a good place to start would be to

make direct proposals to these people. Make it a badge of prestige!

We also seemed to conclude that such private funding of performance do happen, and

the examples of parties and after parties thrown by extravagantly rich do have private

performances. Like having Beyoncé performing at a family members sweet sixteen

birthday party or wedding anniversary were mentioned. So it seems the money is out

there to create such an enterprise and that it could be an interesting avenue to



masque, royal, patronage, Patronage, paton