Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Arts Council Theatre Assessment open meeting

I was at an Arts Council England (ACE) open meeting at The Young Vic yesterday afternoon, part of their Theatre Assessment 2008.

The aim was for the independent consultants, Anne Millman and Jodi Myers, who are undertaking the Assessment, to learn as much as possible from the audience about what has changed (or not) in theatre since the Theatre Review of 2003 that informed how the additional £25 million per year for theatre that came as part of the government's spending review in 2000 should be spent.

With around 50 people in attendance from all sorts of organisations there were, inevitably, many different viewpoints. The mood, however, was mostly positive. The extra money clearly has made an impact. There are new buildings, new companies and, for some, more opportunities for touring.

Several speakers praised Arts Council flexibility for helping to break down barriers between different art forms, with crossover from circus arts, street arts and dance increasingly commonplace. The growing willingness to experiment - for example, by opening up the theatre-making process to public scrutiny, or staging work in unusual sites - was also noted.

However, as one speaker pointed out, a lot of this activity is quite small scale and, perhaps, largely limited to London. Indeed, it was later argued that London now has excess theatre capacity while the rest of the country has far too little.

There was also criticism for ACE, particularly over the way in which theatre officers' approach and advice can vary so much from region to region. There was also a feeling that, while progress has been made on diversity in theatre, there was still a long way to go.

The proper payment of artists, including writers, was also recognised as a widespread problem. Several people spoke up for the need to support new writing, with the difficulties for mid-career writers specifically noted.

There's another open meeting in Bristol on 1 October 2008 from 2pm at Circomedia, St Paul's Church, Portland Square.

You can also respond to the consultation questions online until 31 October 2008.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.