D&D Roadshow 2013 - BRIGHTON

What about Performing Arts across the South? (Not just in Brighton!)

Susie Timney - 9 September 2013




My name is Susie and I am a Performance Artist based in Chichester, West Sussex. I currently make solo contemporary theatre and am looking towards producing Live Art installations as well to explore research topics.

I posed my discussion question because I was very interested in the questions that were being asked by others, but after being posed these questions often ended with “in Brighton”. Not being “in Brighton”, but nevertheless being a performance artist, I was curious to see how those in attendance would answer the main question of the day - What Are We Going To Do About Theatre and Performing Arts? - when looking out into the wider local community.

My answer came loud and clear when no one arrived to take up my discussion. As a contemporary performer on the South Coast of England I am often looking to my neighbouring larger cities for performance events and discussions. It was interesting to find that either no one else here had traveled to Brighton for this event, or that they were more interested in what was happening “in Brighton” and had attended other discussions.

My desire to look outwards along the coast and to realise that performers do exist and indeed perform outside Brighton stems from my university education and fledgling career in Chichester. As a grounding for my personal practice I find it important to know what is happening and available to me in my local area. Chichester has vibrant contemporary performance degrees in the form of Theatre BA (previously Performing Arts BA) and Performance (Theatre or Theatre Collectives) MA programmes. From these courses stem next generation contemporary performers. Chichester also has a lot of home-grown artists of various disciplines.

Being a small city on the South Coast, stuck in its microcosmic world in between Portsmouth and Brighton, Chichester can be overlooked by large events; which is why myself and many others regularly travel along the south and up to London and beyond for discussions, workshops, events and symposiums. I was surprised to find that for todays D&D I appeared to be the only Brighton outsider, or at least the only one who wanted to find out what else was happening in the region. Brighton hosts a wonderfully diverse community of artists, and in the short space of time I have here today I have met many interesting people. It is a city privileged in its saturation of creative minds and can form comfortable communities and conversations with ease. Artists outside of this bubble, whilst not very far away, are often left honing their practice without the support and solidarity proffered by a city filled with contemporary performance venues, underground events, art celebrations and supportive councils.

Whilst completing my MA I found myself challenged by the lonely task of being a performer in a quiet city. Knowing that there are performance makers in the area - a pool of people regularly topped up by university graduates staying in the area - I felt called to start a group, a meeting of minds once a month, to support and encourage each other whilst keeping abreast of local developments and how South Coast arts fit into a wider National picture. Communicating and championing each other, regularly getting together to say “I'm here, and this is what I'm up to.”

So my personal response to the question What Are We Going To Do About Theatre and Performing Arts will be to create an outlet in my community to meet, discuss and support theatre and performance.

And for Performing Arts across the South? I will continue to attend events along the South Coast, and keep abreast of what is going on locally (if not nationally.) I would also challenge larger cities, particularly those in tune with their creative cultures, to look out into their wider community as well and show support to those who are undoubtedly out there and working to achieve similar goals, being interested in the wider community and their place within that scene as well as developing support inside its own city limits.


Orla Flanagan

12 September 2013

Hi Susie, it may be worth keeping an eye on house theatre's website - you may already be aware of house, which is an organisation set up recently to enable more theatre to reach the South and South East. It is a great resource, and there is loads of info in the resources which may be of interest. House has recently secured funding for a really exciting new programme called Greenhouse to help connect artists through venues with audiences and communities to create new work, and it would be worth keeping an eye on new developments with this, as the project will be seeking applications of some sort soon. Perhaps you could talk about the Show Room etc about how you could partner to create the beginnings of a show…


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