San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
A celebration of risk, innovation and collaboration in British theatre
On the 4th of July 2014 the first In Battalions Festival will take place at Drama Centre London at Central Saint Martins. This one-day summer festival is a new opportunity for professional theatre-makers, academics, politicians, journalists and other culture professionals to share innovative ideas and practical models for maintaining a vital theatre ecology in the UK and will take place as part of The Year of Experimentation, a three day new writing festival taking place at Drama Centre London as the culmination of the first year of its new MA in Dramatic Writing.
Keynote speaker Taryn Storey of Reading University will be unveiling her doctoral thesis The Arts Council and the Politics of Risk: Funding for New Writing in a Neo-Liberal Age. Taryn's research forms part of the AHRC funded project Giving Voice to the Nation: The Arts Council of Great Britain and the Development of Theatre and Performance in Britain 1945-1995, a collaboration between the University of Reading and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Panel chairs include playwright and In Battalions co-author Fin Kennedy, Tonic Theatre artistic director Lucy Kerbel, dramaturg Caroline Jester and playwright Ben Musgrave. Discussions will be minuted by In Battalions co-author Helen Campbell Pickford and her student team, for dissemination online.
Other confirmed speakers:
- Neil Darlison, director of Theatre at Arts Council England - taking questions on ACE's National Portfolio funding decisions, which will have been announced just three days prior.
- Kumiko Mendl, Gillian Hambleton and Chris O'Connell in conversation - all artistic directors whose theatre companies experienced a 100% Arts Council cut in 2011, but which somehow survived.
- Tassos Stevens of Coney and Alan Lane of Slung Low - both new NPOs in 2011, talking about what NPO status has allowed them to achieve.
- Dawn Walton of Eclipse, Jennifer Lim of British East Asian artists and 'disability diva' Mandy Colleran debating how cuts to the arts have affected diversity in the sector.
- Natalie Wilson of Theatre Centre, Paul Webster of Pearson Education, plus some London school teachers, on the state of young people's theatre and the future of Drama as a subject in schools.
- Mags Patten, head of Communications at Arts Council England, on how the subsidised arts sector can best make its case to the public.
- Delphi Champions - theatremakers who took part in the In Battalions Delphi study making the case for their top proposal and inviting delegates to form a consortia to take it forward there and then. These include Jonathan Petherbridge from London Bubble and playwrights Ben Yeoh, Samantha Ellis and Hannah Khalil.
- Theatremaker Stella Duffy, talking about her new project Fun Palaces and how she got it off the ground.
- Arts journalists and cultural commentators Maddy Costa and Jake Orr talk about their Dialogue initiative, reimagining the hierarchy between theatre-maker, critic and audience.
- Jez Bond of Park Theatre and Paul Robinson of Theatre 503 - thriving theatres without any regular public investment - talk about how they pull it off and the daily challenges they face.
- 'Funding Provocateurs' – Jim Beirne of Live Theatre Newcastle, David Powell, co-author of Re-Balancing Our Cultural Capital, cultural policy guru John Kieffer, and Peter Whittle of the New Culture Forum all present radical ideas on the future of arts funding in the UK.
- Experienced political lobbyist Rosie Luff of Hanover Communications and Nick Ewbank, regeneration consultant and co-author of the soon-to-be-launched Cultural Value and Social Capital report, part of the AHRC's Cultural Value Project, giving their tips on how the arts can make their case to politicians from all sides in the run-up to the 2015 election.
There will also be ‘open mic’ slots for delegates to pitch their own ideas for new projects and innovative solutions to protect artistic risk-taking, with the opportunity to found a consortium to take the idea forward there and then, using online crisis-mapping resource Crowdmap – tutorials for which will be available on the day.
The In Battalions report, published by playwright Fin Kennedy and researcher Helen Campbell Pickford in 2013, received widespread coverage and formed a significant part of the recent debate about arts funding cuts, in particular around theatres' capacity to take risks on developing new plays and playwrights in an age of austerity.
The In Battalions Festival is a chance to discuss some of the issues raised by the In Battalions reports, form consortia to take forward solutions, and suggest new ways in which the sector might work together better, fund itself more sustainably and articulate its case more effectively. The Festival will be made up of talks and provocations from invited speakers, studies of best practice within the theatre industry and other art forms, space to debate how best for the theatre industry to make its case in the run-up to next year's general election, as well social time for attendees to make connections with one another.
The Festival will be arranged across three rooms:
NPO Analysis: a room dedicated to charting and debating the Arts Council's funding decisions announced on the 1st of July - just three days prior to the Festival. Neil Darlison, Arts Council England’s director of Theatre, has agreed to talk about the NPO process and take questions from delegates.
Building the Battalion: a room dedicated to founding a permanent online In Battalions community inspired by open-source crisis-mapping platform Crowdmap. Delegates can form their own online groups to take forward proposals from the In Battalions Delphi study.
Money and Politics: a room devoted to discussion of alternative arts funding models, and ways for the subsidised theatre sector to make its case to politicians in the run-up to the 2015 general election.
The one-day Festival runs from 10am to 5.30pm with a social event in the evening. It will take place in the new Central Saint Martins building at Granary Square in central London, just behind St Pancras and Kings Cross stations. The Festival is organised with students from Drama Centre London's new MA Dramatic Writing programme, and is part of The Year of Experimentation, a three day new writing festival taking place as the culmination of the first year of the course.
For an overview of the campaign please visit: www.finkennedy.co.uk/in-battalions
For press enquiries please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note: Tickets cover the direct costs of the event including things like travel for speakers and chairs. We've tried to keep them as cheap as possible and to reflect the differing financial means of potential attendees.
When & Where
Founder: Fin Kennedy - Award-winning UK playwright, teacher, University tutor, writer-in-residence, arts blogger and new co-Artistic Director of Tamasha Theatre.