What do you think about collaboration across art disciplines?


Convener(s): Richard Couldrey

Participants: Leslie Forbes, Dafne Louzioti, Tanya Cottiutti, Brania Evers, Joe Bull, Sharon Smith, Liz Moreton, Sam Jones, Rachael Spence, Sam Jones, Aleasha Chaunte, Lian Bell, William Wong, Mandy Trains, Mark Grimmer, Annette Mees, Fiona Watt


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:


Conversation started with people talking about their experiences a little and developed into a conversation as much about the nature of collaboration as collaboration across artforms. Its turned into bullet points, but there we go:



  • An outside eye. There was  number of cases of a two way collaboration with a third person associated with that team occasionally coming in during the making process
  • Conversation around the idea leading to independent work being brought back to the group, tweaked and returning to independent work. Break the cycle to open the show.
  • A writer / director structuring the process and then shepherding a democratic making environment
  • Make a piece with not a lot at stake – a one week making process? A work in progress showing?



  • Its also interesting for individuals to bring multi-discipline skills to the mix. Does that mean that you bring a more open and flexible approach to making?
  • How do you make it an even collaboration if one of the collaborators has “the loudest mouth” or is the strongest character… moved on…
  • Collaboration of any sort needs a sensitivity to the other people involved
  • Leave your ego at home but come in with self-confidence in your own skills
  • Need to have a clear understanding of your own skills that you are bringing to the table.
  • You don’t need to understand everyone else’s disciplines, just the reason why you’re collaborating ie the show



  • Persistence
  • Trust
  • Risk
  • Rigorous self editing
  • Willingness to be challenged at a fundamental level
  • Clarity of intention
  • Honesty
  • Prepare to be surprised and be changed
  • Understanding how someone else ticks
  • Understand how much or how little you need to tell people about your discipline
  • Know when to stop talking and complete the show
  • Translation of language



  • From a deep understanding of the artistic idea – the foundation
  • With the right chemistry – almost across the board, collaborations grew organically out of casual conversation.
  • Circumstance
  • The right time at the right place
  • Through lots and lots of conversation
  • Someone needs to instigate
  • Mutual respect and awareness of where someone else artistically comes from
  • Complementary skills
  • With patience



  • It’s likely to contain a lot of self-doubt and self –questioning for everyone
  • Exciting but scary thing is to have your discipline challenged by someone who is not versed in it.
  • Be prepared to be challenged to work outside your comfort zone.



  • A shared language is developed.
  • The total becomes greater than the sum of its parts
  • Great things


  • Human experience contains all the senses, why do shows need to be boxed to contain few senses or disciplines?
  • The show’s the thing – respect that and artistic boundaries fall
  • Seemingly exclusive artforms can influence eachother (a dancer can influence a writer, a musician can influence visual art)



  • Work hard to find different ways to communicate if communication is not good
  • Beware feeling or making someone feel undervalued!
  • The $£$£ devil. Transparency is needed with the core collaborators about how the budget is divided. CONTENTIOUS!! Should this come down to sober contractual agreement – it was found this depended on the size of the team / scale of the show. In larger teams, yes, keep fees away from the making environment, in smaller shows, transparency is needed. Be aware, we all need to make a living
  • How do you get different audiences along to a mixed artform event? Tricky. (eg, The Show’s the Thing  (David Harradine, Jo Manser and Jed Barry) not listed by either theatre or art for the opposite reason)
  • A lot of effort needs to be put into energising and opening your audience