Queer Theatre : What is it? Do we still need it? Are the Arts Council right to cut it? 

Convener(s): Angela Clerkin

Participants: Stella Duffy, Martin Sutherland, Ann Wilson, Lucy Ellinson, Sebastien Warack, Malcolm Rippeth, Jamie Allan, Catherine Paskell, Clair Chapwell, Ben Fowler, Christos Chanios, Mark Tresona, Jo Hemmant, Steven, Lisa

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Should it still be funded?

There is need for there to still be funded Queer/Gay theatre, particularly due to homophobia experienced by young people in the UK, but also by people in rural areas, and even within the industry.

That national recognition for Queer/Theatre culture is important and that there is still a lack of role models and ‘representation’, which is also due in part to individuals staying in the closet.

That work in education was still a priority for artists and education providers to counter homophobia.

Discussion re Drill Hall and Queer Up North losing funding

Are these organizations producing work to the highest standard?

Should organizations continue to be nurtured by ACE, if they aren’t producing the best work?

Should the funds cut from these organizations be earmarked as funding for ‘QueerArts’ and re-distributed elsewhere? (ie touring work, developing new/emerging artists).

Women are still not given as much prominence as men within the gay artist community.

What is Queer Theatre?

  • Sense of experimentation
  • Breaking boundaries
  • Imaginative
  • Looking ‘anew’ every time
  • Sexy/hot/juicy/naughty/filfthy
  • Celebratory
  • Challenging
  • Questioning
  • Camp/Not Camp
  • Flamboyant/Not flamboyant
  • ‘Excluded’ people
  • Multiplicity
  • Historically Lesbian/Gay
  • Now a dynamic and open attitude toward sex, sexuality and gender

Queer Art

Is it the Artist – or is it the Subject – or the form in which (either) are presented.

‘Queer Arts’ is hard to define, and that ‘fluidity and ambiguity’ is useful for artistic experimentation.

Recognition and identification:

  • Is the ‘Gay/Lesbian/TG’ label as a positive and negative thing.
  • It was felt that in having ‘won the right to the box’ (gender/sexuality) this had empowered Arts administrators to relay statistics relating to gay people working in the industry as ‘Queer Arts covered’
  • A perception that society believes that the ‘argument has been won’ whereas the group does not believe this to be the case and that the need for Queer storytelling/visibility is as vital as ever.
  • Within the industry, there is a high proportion of gay/lesbian working, however this does not mean that our stories are being told/views expressed. 
  • Market forces determine programming – should we the (gay) audience to be more active stakeholders?
  • Artists were finding themselves being ‘too gay’ and ‘not gay enough’ (in theatre and film)

Outcomes and recommendations:

  • The group wanted to broaden the perception of what Queer Theatre is/can be within the Queer, Gay and straight community.
  • New technologies were suggested to create an ‘online theatre/auditorium’ where curious audiences can explore the work.
  • Angela has collected emails from the group and will circulate.
  • The group wanted to connect, as artists to Drill Hall and Queer Up North and Homotopia (Liverpool) in order highlight our work and send a message to ACE that the audience/artists are ‘out there’!
  • That we should also contact other theatres to encourage them to incorporate work from Queer Artists into their programme.
  • Lucy will research existing online forums and spaces (social networking sites) to link up to the groups collective work.
  • Ben is going to set up a Facebook group where we can share evidence of our work as Queer artists.