Apologies in advance for this 'report', which will be at turns badly written, meandering and tangential. I've anonymised contributions, even when I know who said what, but if I've missed out, misquoted or misunderstood something you said and you want me to put it right, please let me know.

As I left D&D on Saturday, while adding my colourful stickers to the various sheets of paper that visually captured the demographic of attendees (ethnicity, age, etc.), I was struck by the graph that was headed 'What are your political leanings?'

Of 110 dots, all but five were on the left of the centre line (some so far left that they eschewed the border of the diagram altogether). Four were on the cusp of centre or just on the right hand side, and one (possibly pointedly and/or facetiously) was on the far right hand side.

Using the event hashtag I asked D&D attendees, and by extension theatre twitter (tweatre?), if they felt this should be a talking point the following day.

I've scribbled down the notes I made and contributions I can recall below. If you're interested in the various opinions and threads that were shared on twitter - in many cases by folk who couldn't / didn't attend D&D - you can see those here: https://twitter.com/SpleenShot/status/1226200830308737024?s=20

There were obviously problems with how I asked this question. It was generally agreed, for example, that the left/right binary isn't nuanced enough; that there is a spectrum; that not everyone who thinks they are of a certain political persuasion actually demonstrates those characteristics or lives their life that way; that the left/right binary doesn't allow for any delineation between, for example, economic and social politics; that the spectrum of people at D&D isn't representative of the sector as a whole, particularly if you consider executives and trustees.

Early in the conversation there was some discussion of working in communities, outside of arts/theatre institutions, and learning quickly how to manage the conflicting politics of audiences or participants. There was a plea to avoid perpetuating the idea that artists/makers 'gift' their work to ordinary people. There was a question around whether or not it is possible to make work that isn't overtly influenced by one's politics. There was a criticism of a play that was deemed immature in its left-wing politics. There was a distinct vibe of a sector wrestling with the idea that the public is sometimes suspicious of theatre.

There seemed to be consensus that making work that encompasses a broader range of political perspectives is easier when it involves and/or is led by the public, rather than 'professional artists'.

There was a view shared by some that commercial work is inherently right-wing (economically at least), and funded / subsidised work is inherently left-wing.

Someone raised that often theatre spaces are expected only to create room for certain political views, and that there is a negative response to any venue that gives a platform to views deemed less palatable. There was a suggestion that venues could focus on values that establish parameters for agreed behaviour - so the contract for anyone using the space is about adherence to those values, rather than agreement with a particular political perspective. Someone explained that this guides them in how they run a mobile sauna (I know, brilliant, right?). The principals of Nordic Larp were flagged as interesting in this context. (nordiclarp.org/what-is-nordic-larp/).

Later someone noted that buildings operating as charities have a responsibility to create democratic spaces, and to widen access to them, but that this isn't mutually exclusive to artists expounding a personal point-of-view, political or otherwise.

There was a good example of how a someone in the group had started to explore other's views in a more positive way than a platform like twitter might allow:
- Find somebody to talk to
- Identify your differences, but don't argue about them
- Ask questions about these differences

Someone raised a question around the responsibility of artists/makers, and asked if we are too hung-up on providing the audience with solutions to their problems, in a bid to "make an impact", rather than just giving them a good night out. (Is our sector slightly obsessed with imparting our politics, our moral worldview?). Another person commented that focusing on offering a good night out changes the world for the better because it is in itself a positive act.

There was definitely talk of online pile-ons. There was definitely reference to the sector's lack of tolerance to alternative political viewpoints. There was more, I'm sure.