New Models for Doing it.

Convener(s):  Greg McLaren

Participants: Lottie Leedham, Lucy Cassidy, Michelle Reader, Mathilda Layser, Venla Hatakka, Drew Davies, Lucy Skilbeck, Steno Vitale, James Stenhouse, Matthew Austin, Lucy Wigmore, Natalie Fletcher, Angela Unsworth, Gemma Paintin, David . . ., Dan. . . . ,

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

A discussion about what other ways, other than a short run in a fixed venue, or a regional tour, are there to show the work we make?

Greg opened the session by outlining the model for performance of new work in Buenos Aires:  A show may run for three or four months, performed only twice or three times a week.  Actors can be in more than one production and theatres have more than one show per week.  He talked about cabaret and festival programming and how those might work with the theatre the group makes.

There was talk about record labels and how listeners trust labels to release music they like and don’t yet know.  The good label is very successful at building its audience, and introducing them to new material.  An example of this is Aurora Nova, an important word was TRUST.  

Can such an organization (or ‘Gang’ as it came to be known) be artist led?  There is a clear desire for artists to work together like this, but whether it can be led & run by them was not known immediately. 

The benefits are:

  • Touring together and sharing that work. 
  • Supporting each other and the sharing of ideas. 
  • Building a brand that audiences remember and will respond to. 
  • Providing audiences with more than one experience that night (or 2 nights) reducing disappointment, and introducing them to work they know and work they don’t. 
  • There are shared needs and peer support, and the development of a link between work and practices. 
  • Ongoing artistic and administrative collaborations between companies and theatres, working toward international exchange.

The idea of the touring ‘micro-festival’ was introduced.  For example, a full high quality show of an hour or so, two shorter pieces, a band at the end and some relevant paintings or photographs in the foyer or similar, travel around together to suitable venues.  To bring audiences in, a local artist is programmed as part of the micro –fest.  Mention of Stiff Records who were behind the Mod movement, releasing records, managing tours, dictating fashion and publishing a magazine.  MERCHANDISE.  Control over the brand and the experiences of the audience.

David mentioned the vital thing is to get venues on the side of ‘The Gang’ first, and start with a small version of the idea.  Then get the venues to link up.

There was talk about experiences of putting on a night of cross platform work,  sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  How would we make it pay?

Enthusiasm for The Gang or New Models was growing, cross company collaborations and workshops seem attractive propositions.  Some sort of scratch fandango where local companies can benefit from the experience of the touring companies.  Education and outreach, but importantly, issued from all artforms.

Some artists were worried that the programming of the micro-fest would somehow lessen the impact of their individual show and the impact of their company overall.  They want the work to stand alone.  There were disagreements here.  It was suggested that music and a local artist would be a lure for audiences and somehow that would make the experience less valid.  The reaction to this was that all audiences are lured into theatres, and that if the work is strong enough it would stand on its own and benefit from a new audience, and the new audience would benefit from the show. 

Shint was given as an example of an evening of themed or curated performance.  It was said that the theming and curation was not particularly strong there and that ‘The Gang’ would have to be more cohesive in order to satisfy the artists involved.

Brand Building.  How to do it?  Creating an ethos is important.  A manifesto and a shared aesthetic.  ADMIN!  Becoming a small business, a move to try and control venues ‘The Gang’ would tour to.  Try to become a Mini-Lloyd-Webber.

What happened to the BAC’s this way up tour?  Again, the brand is what is important.  Theatre-goers trust familiar things. 

It was decided that the New Models Gang would first make an email group discussing what is important to each of the companies and artists and what they would hope to get out of a scheme like this.

After this is resolved we embark upon a week of collaborative exchange, both creative and administrative.  A relaxed scratch, show work to each other privately.  Create a NING

In Conclusion, the concept of presenting a well curated day or two of performance that seems very attractive to audiences of music and theatre, that could tour around suitable venues and exhibit a playful and interesting cross pollination of ideas, is something that the present D&Ders would like to explore further.