Andrew Loretto, 26 January 2014

This is my first time attending Devoted & Disgruntled - thanks to everyone who came

along to chat at this session.

The context for posing the question about collaborative dialogue at D&D9 is that I am

currently Creative Producer as part of a three-year action-research project in

Doncaster called Right Up Our Street (

Right Up Our Street is a three-year action-research project funded by ACE Creative

People and Places and is aimed at enabling great cultural ideas to happen across

Doncaster borough. Doncaster’s Creative People & Places programme is run by a

consortium consisting of darts (Doncaster Community Arts), Cast, Doncaster Culture &

Leisure Trust (DCLT) and Doncaster Voluntary Arts Network (DVAN).The work is

multi-stranded and complex and is aimed at developing sustainable, proactive creative

dialogue between local communities, artists and cross-sector organisations. In short,

we want to help fantastic ideas happen that are informed by local people and that will

have a sustainable legacy for Doncaster.

We are at a crucial point in the cycle of this project where new commissions, informed

by a wide range of local artists and communities are hitting take-off point. The project

started in April 2013 and runs to March 2016. Of course, it's about what happens after

that period that is the critical in terms of longevity of arts provision and opportunities in

the area - ie. the SUSTAINABLE aspect of this work is vitally important. Hence the

discussion at D&D. What other models of practice exist out there? What are other

organisations' and individuals' experiences?

What follows is a haphazard collection of impressions gained from the discussion,

hints, tips, references to books, articles and models of practice. Contributors to the

discussion ranged from directors of funded theatre companies, through festival

managers to freelance artists, marketing specialists and recent graduates…

There's a danger with any such project of a “colonial” approach. art and culture is of

course happening in communities, sustaining them, keeping them alive.

Start with an audit of existing art/artists/artistic work.

Developing sustainable dialogue with communities takes years. However reality of

CPP project is time-limited!

Useful book: Francois Matarasso ‘Where We Dream’

Look at:

The Point, Eastleigh, invites associate artists to come and live in Eastleigh for 6

months - building local networks and audience. Biggest impact is on the artists.

“Artists should behave more like venues.”

Terminology around artists and audiences is problematic - we agreed we were really

talking about ‘co-authors’ in this discussion. We're at different places on the

audience-artists spectrum at different moments in time and with different projects.

We're always part of a temporary community - “always washing back and forth”.

Audiences are important as participants “because they are bodies in the room”.

The “most valuable part of scratch performance is embodiment”.

Collaborative dialogue is about building a dialogue.

Check out: Liz Lerman, “Hiking the Horizontal'.

”People arrive to the context like billiard balls".

Accept you are not neutral as an evaluator of work.

Some shared examples of communities/audiences commissioning work or being

proactively involved in making:

- direct offers of product to local communities - if X number buy tickets, then the event


- Manchester City Art Gallery, recent co-authored work.

- London Bubble: online voting for choice of next project & intergenerational work -

writer and designer brought in at later stage to help shape work already developed by

company members.

- (Also worth mentioning the inaugural work of Sheffield People's Theatre during June

2011 - April 2013: intergenerational work informed by artists and communities.)

- Tom Marshman - ‘Move Over Darling’ - Shout Festival, Birmingham, work with

stories of Birmingham LGBTQ


- An example was also given of a Local Residents' Group making a self-elected

project, transforming a public space, including use of a temporary ice-rink. Project

entirely driven by local residents.

- The work of Forest Forge

As I said, these are just fragments of the much fuller conversation. I like to think of this

short discussion as a ‘hello’ from/to some work happening in South Yorkshire. If the

area of sustainable co-authored work is of interest to you or if you would like to make a

connection with our work in Doncaster, then please do get in touch:

[email protected]


co-authorship, Audiences, artists, audiences, communities, participation, Artists,