On Wednesday 22nd of April 2020 we hosted the IGC Theatre Makers Mega Zoom. This was in response to the developing situation with coronavirus; one of, if not the largest crisis we have faced in many of our life times.
Our industry has already changed, and will continue to change beyond all recognition. Theatre makers have a significant role to play in that change; questioning, celebrating, highlighting this new world order through stories and art with communities at their heart.
There are significant challenges to overcome in the short term, to ensure we are there to do that.
IGC has always been led by independent producers and is funded in the same way as many small theatre companies. That is why we share many of the same concerns that you may have. In addition to securing our own future, we felt it it was important, as the flagship development program for theatre makers in the Midlands, to facilitate a digital space and an opportunity for more transparency and mutual understanding between venues and artists.
This chat became more mega than we could’ve imagined and it was incredibly galvanising to see so many theatre makers coming together at this time. What was discussed on that zoom, however brief, is already informing and shaping in the short term how this region as a whole will respond to this crisis.
Some key themes emerged directly from points that artists raised on the call and we are going to try and summarise them below:
- It is clear that many have responded to this crisis by radically changing their digital ambitions, including digital commissions for artists. In this haste, it is easy to fall down and not get this right. There is a need to focus on the cost of the software and equipment required to do the job and to be more innovative, transparent and specific about what commissions involve.
- There was a general consensus that we should be utilising this time to up skill. That we have been given an opportunity to remove ourselves from the hamster wheel of productivity and that at some point we need to work out how to make this new way of working pay for itself. We are pleased to say there has been a huge amount of work already undertaken to compile a list of resources on ways in which people have made it pay and the softwares/equipment they are using.*
- There was a desire to be more innovative in the way we look at support in-kind. To organise more effectively, so we can make use of more venue resources through in-kind support in a similar way to how most give rehearsal space.
- There was an overwhelming sense that the more communication the better, particularly when it came to timelines. This crisis has encouraged a new democracy which was broadly welcomed by everyone. The openness and transparency on display between venues and artist was good and we should do everything we can to develop this. We must implement new communication channels now, to make information available, not just between venues and artist but also venue to venue.
- Finally and most importantly, we must maintain a commitment to diversity and programming work that is often, rightly or wrongly, considered risky and challenging in the future. These commitments must be clear and public, so that artists are reassured and can respond to the needs of audiences when making their work. The work done by venues to gather knowledge and expertise on future trends must be shared.
Although this conversation was only the beginning and poses many more questions than answers (66 more comments than we alone could read) one thing was abundantly clear: In Good Company’s role as a conduit between venues and artist has never been more important. Particularly when you consider IGC is an artist development scheme that is run by independent producers, whilst being trusted and invested in by venues. Now is the time for more radical and brave pooling of resources, more collaboration and less transaction and ownership for the good of the ecology as a whole. We are ready to play our role now and hopefully for many years to come as we go from strength to strength.
We are really excited to say that we have commissioned Midland creative Jennifer Manderson–Smith, to create visual minutes in response to this discussion and conversation, take a look here!
Following the Success of this IGC Mega Zoom we’ve planned some more zooms with theatre makers and organisations across the Midlands
The next ‘You’re In Good Company Zoom’ is
Wednesday 26th August 8-9pm.
Please email email@example.com to receive the Zoom meeting details & the agenda will be released shortly.
It was a very popular call. This survey is a direct response to the points that were raised. The aim of the survey is to clarify viewpoints and give everyone a chance to get their voices heard; whether you were able to join us or not.
The points clarified by this survey will inform how this region, venues, organisations and independent theatre makers respond to Covid19 in the short term.
* Paul O’Donnell is compiling a google doc of resources and softwares for digital creation. You can access and contribute here. Big thank you to Paul!