D&D Roadshow 2013 - BRIGHTON

How can we sustain creative projects that have no income in these underfunded times?

Alice Booth - 9 September 2013




Hosted by Alice Booth

Some attendees - Mark Sands – Deafinitely Theatre, Hannah – Bandbazi, Paul Levy – Fringe Review, Tamsin Shasha – Actors of Dionysus, Julian Caddy – Brighton Fringe, Strat Mastoris, Sian Rees

- You can fund something and people will participate but how can people be enabled to carry on doing an activity beyond the funding?
- Working with health sector, strategic commissioning
- New Venture Theatre self fund through membership and selling tickets for their work.
- Why is a question of us and them? Sets us apart, and creates an automatic class barrier.
- Running a programme that is demand-led, think about what it is people in the community are you already doing? How can we support that?
- In North Kent there is quite a lot of arts stuff happening – karaoke, local festivals etc. but they don’t necessarily want any input, or want this to change and become ‘arty’
- Is there a distinction between high art and low art? Are people wary of what they don’t know?
- Good things that have happened with money are cross funding projects between arts & heritage, education. Think about what it is we’re doing through the arts, (singing – communication skills? Dance – health and wellbeing?)
- People think the arts are an extra thing, artists are paid to sit around all day, and artists need to think of ourselves as part of a wider skills providing network.
- The West End is unfunded so it’s necessarily expensive, which means there becomes a two tier theatre experience
- The general feeling is that it isn’t price which stops people coming to see a play, it’s the attitudes towards theatre and it’s perception of being an exclusive thing, and an assumption that they wouldn’t like it.
- There is a problem with our devotion as artists, and expecting and not getting the same devotion from other people/participants/audiences.
- There is a difficulty with free things being undervalued and even less commitment if projects are free to attend. However some things need to be free to enable accessibility.
- The amateur scene is very vibrant and passionate, and is there a way of linking back to this sense in community theatre?
- Artists should be paid.
- There is a sense when running community theatre projects that if you use the word ‘drama’ you put people off, and they won’t want to participate. It is the language you use.
- The commitment required from a community group is very difficult for those people who have quite chaotic lives and spending leisure time doing a formal thing is unappealing.
- Conversely is there can be something beneficial for people with chaotic lives about having a formal structure to a project
- There is a problem with community artists going into a community and telling them that it’s something they need.
- Don’t we need to think outside the box and think more about process rather than product, move away from the idea of creating a ‘performance’ and more towards an episodic structure where those who are there can come together at the end. This could be a way of having a ‘product’ even if you are running sessions which different people come to, or which there is no commitment to.
- For community there is arts funding, but is this quite restrictive and is more geared towards product, it is more liberating to go towards the non-arts funding (Awards for All, Heritage Lottery funding etc.)
- It’s very challenging to plan projects when the funding is so project based, and you can’t look ahead more than 6 months, or there is a gap between projects where everyone who took part has forgotten it ever existed.
- Is it necessary to have a lucrative arm to any organisation that funds the less lucrative community element?
- Your creative decisions are affected by the need to generate money
- Have people’s projects had to divert to follow funding streams? Projects have happened because they match a funding source. It’s been quite productive and creative to think of new projects to match funding sources, projects that never would have happened have occurred because of this.
- At the Emporium the café supports the running of the building to allow the theatre to support itself
- Fringe theatre is so vibrant because it is nominally funded by the pubs and café’s where they get the space for free
- What do big business companies get out of a youth theatre production? CSR, and actually they enjoy being part of something like this.
- How do artists talk to companies, they feel like they don’t know how to approach this different field. It’s giving them a different spin, suggesting that companies will look good, they will look socially responsible.
- Does a company expect something back from arts organisations that they support. Is this a bad thing? Well no, but what if you aren’t very good at it?
- If the demographic of your project and the demographic of their product is the same they can get some really good advertising.
- What about types of arts that are less attractive to businesses?
- Workshops for private schools can then fund less funded, smaller work.
- BT, o2, Santander, Barclays do small community funds. Galaxy Warm Heart
- Would it be useful to have a group where people can put funding sources/ opportunities etc.
- Brighton Fringe can hold and publicise a database of funding sources, deadlines friendly companies. Would also be useful to have a list of companies current CSR priorities. FringeReview could also tweet deadlines and things like that to their large network of contacts. People can send in funds they hear about to be promoted by the fringe. Working together not in competition.
- It’s important to think about going for funding not as competing, but as making the work as good as possible
- Fundraising events, is it worth doing them, as time put in, versus money out is a difficult balance. Important to have the right people at the event, rich people.
- Have contacts in companies who trust your work, and they may have opportunities for you later on should there be budget surplus.
- Impetus (a volunteer charity) can provide you with volunteers but only if you are a registered charity. Problems with volunteers leaving, but if you give people a good experience they will stick around and gain many new skills.
- Think about the content of your work and linking up with the business that has connections with that content.
- The idea that nothing should be given for nothing, and setting up an exchange that is clear.
- Getting influential people onto boards and as trustees could be useful. Speaking to Arts and Business in London who have connections of people who want to be on boards.
- Actors of Dionysus have created a non-executive committee, an ‘inner circle’, who have been instrumental in fundraising.
- There are three ways of going – sponsorship (charitable giving out of the goodness of people’s hearts), in the middle is the benefit, quid pro quo, which at its worst is sleazy, or the third way when you engage in a dialogue and make work together and it’s more of a collaboration. A different relationship about thinking of businesses not as organisations to get money out of but as partners.
- Businesses regularly change their CSR priorities, and we have to get ourselves used to the new environment by keeping up with this.
- There has been a big shift over the past few years from artists who are worried about corrupt relationships between business and artists, to just, how will we survive? Some artists wouldn’t engage with businesses that they consider to be totally unethical, but can you reject it if you can’t afford to put on your work in any other way.
- Crowd funding? Is this ethical, or is it keeping the elite in theatre, as they are the ones with rich friends/ parents?
- The answer is by having discussions that bring like-minded people together. People are at each other’s throats but all we want to do is create good work.
- Create projects that will help sustain the people who fund them. Working with businesses, sometimes there are no strings attached.



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