Francis Christeller, 28 January 2015

D&D 10

Sunday Jan 25th

York Hall

Session: Programming the Performing Arts

People in attendance for all or part, among others were:

Xavier de Sousa

Claire Hicks

Clara Giraud

Leo Burton

Catherine Fowles

Bill Bankes-Jones

Jo Mackie

Jenny Dewar

Sally Rose

Hannah Myers

Hollie Aston

Inge Koks

I wanted to open up some questions relating to programming that have been sitting

with me as I embark on curating work. Some provocations to start with were:

What constitutes a cohesive programme?

Where to start? Audience? Venue? Soul searching?

'Phone a friend' – networks, consortia, sharing costs and resources, what if we all turn

it to mush?

How to differentiate your programme/event/festival/theatre

What are the ethics around programming?

We kicked off by discussing context as a big factor in the way things are programmed.

Whether that be a venue and their audience and requirements, the location of the

festival or what it sits next to in the cultural calendar. A number of people talked about

their personal taste and how that could be used as a base line for decision making but

was influenced by other factors including whether a company can provide a clear

promo pack and submit it by a deadline. Sometimes things that are not your favourite

will be appropriate for the context and that is ok until you find yourself faced with an

‘over my dead body’ moment and you call your ethics into play on why you are not

willing to have something in your programme and being able to justify that.

Leo suggested maybe you can be a bit more risky in a festival context than with a


A strong thread was about programmer/artist relationships. Bill programmes

everything on a personal level and sits and meets artist and can have creative control

about who he programmes into his festival. There was the feeling that it is highly

important for programmers to establish long and meaningful relationships with artists

to support their artistic growth, help them establish audiences and be able to introduce

them to opportunity with other programmers/associated venues etc.

We got a bit off topic by talking a lot about how venues. The difference between the

offer of a traditional theatre and a pub/cafe/gallery venue. How can venues give the

artists that work there a sense of ownership? This links in with the question of how

festivals and venues can offer a ‘home’ for artist that the programme, and festivals too

to the artists they invite.

We talked about the difference between programming for an artist audience and for a

‘general’ audience. Both are valid and there was the suggestion made that more

artists need to see more work.

We spoke about the history of theatre offering season tickets which encouraged

audiences to broaden their exposure to different work and to trust in the programming

of a venue. We some anecdotes about programmers or festival Ads who become

celebrities and/or known within a community as someone who brings culture to a

space or place. Then we talked supportively about the tendency to invite artists as

guest programmers into venues/festivals etc.

I found it very stimulating a conversation and I was pleased to have so many

perspectives from programmers and producers and artists alike.

Thanks to all.


festivals, context, meaningful, networks, audience, programming, Programming,

perspectives, relationships, Networks, theatre, THEATRE, Artists, sharing, Venues,

Theatre, Sharing, producers, venues, Festivals, Producers, conversation, event,

artists, Audience