Theatre in Wales

Commentary and extended critical writing on theatre, dance and performance in Wales

THE FUTURE OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE THEATRE IN WALES

The official report on the recent conference at Chapter , Cardiff

CURRENT CONCERNS:

Peter Doran, Artistic Director, Torch Theatre: The Producers’ View

Peter spoke from both the perspective of a Venue Manager and as a Producer of Theatre. As a Venue Manager he bemoaned the lack of middle-scale touring product. As a Producer, he was frustrated that his company was not working to its capacity to produce work.

The problem could be solved by allowing mid-scale companies to produce more, allowing the Presenters to focus on increasing their bought-in product from Wales.

The Torch and the Sherman Theatre have not been able to tour more than one-person shows, both companies could do more and bigger.

Torch produces three shows a year. It has facilities and staff to do more.

Recently 75k was spent to build new Scenic Workshop facilities, but for three shows a year this means staff are working as caretakers for the majority of the year. Whilst staff can build sets for other companies, there isn’t the same motivation as working as part of the artistic team in their own buildings.

Peter believes in the “Company System”.

The Torch is playing to 76% of capacity with local audiences, local company over a 4 week run.

The standard of Clwyd Theatr Cymru shows is very high and audiences enjoy this work, but with only a week and lower % capacity.

The local audience is a loyal audience, loyal to local company.

We [producers in Wales] can only provide short-term work for actors and stage management who then have to travel the UK to get work. Ten years ago Torch produced eight shows a year, now doing three. The Sherman, 8, now two.

He suggested a possible “sister company” system of pairing e.g. Torch shows would always go to Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Sherman shows always to Swansea etc.

Both companies are capable of touring and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be part of the mid-scale provision in Wales. Other companies (RSC, RNT etc.) plus project companies would then provide a balance of work at different scales.

Torch Theatre are in a situation where Peter can only do plays he can afford to do – e.g. a Christmas show with six actors, means another show will have to be done with only 3 actors. This, rather than being able to do the shows he would like, to the standard he would like/aspire to.

Peter explained that he is both Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the Torch Theatre, and, has to work without an administrator/general manager. Apart from the general running of the building and directing plays he will also have to manage a major 3.7million capital development programme over the next 2-3 years. He will have to manage alone the implications of the proposed changes to the VAT status of Theatres to the exempt category, this could mean having to raise a further 600k towards the capital project in VAT alone. About 3 years ago the backstage showers at Torch Theatre broke down completely, the Equity fund supported the purchase of new shower equipment; however, there was no money for installation and Peter had to do this himself, rather than have no proper shower/wash facilities for the professional actors using the Torch.

He went on to say that whilst Actors and Stage Managers wages are now at an acceptable level (although still room for improvement), that an ASM straight out of Drama School will be earning 330 per week minimum, whilst he has skilled older staff who have been committed to the Torch and theatre earning only 200 per week. He felt that when a company has to work under these conditions to talk of a National Company was quite distasteful. Peter stated he was not prepared to go on any longer without proper support.

He compared the situation in Scotland with 14 project companies and a core of producing companies and theatre buildings, which was a good foundation to build a form of national theatre. In Wales, we have three producing companies and a handful of others. We have to move on. This is not a basis on which to found a national theatre.

Peter feels he is jumping hurdles all the time with work produced against the odds. Like an artist asked to paint with one hand and only three colours. It is demoralising putting in all the effort for so little return except good audiences. Now the Torch is doing well it should be able to produce at least five shows a year and to tour the UK as well.

The idea of a National Theatre is an unwelcome diversion, a non-starter.

Peter suggested that ACW need to assist companies to get on their feet, and whilst they [ACW] talk about excellence – how can we produce excellent work under these conditions.







An immediate response to this from the floor and the Chair was
“Invest in the existing infrastructure”.








Richard Hogger, Director, Creu Cymru: The Venue Perspective:

I want to start by a setting a context for the discussion regarding English Language Touring in Wales from the point of view of the market – the programmers – the purchasers – those with a direct responsibility to their audiences – to keep them, build them, and act as a gentle guide in developing cultural taste.

In addition, in doing some background research I came across a piece of history:.

One of those reports that you read, stick on a shelf and forget quite how influential it was –

From 1991 - Beyond Survival - a report on theatres that promote Middle-scale touring by Crispin Raymond.

‘The day to day challenges of running a middle scale touring theatre are daunting and probably becoming more so. When faced with immediate and mounting pressures it is understandable if longer-term issues are set to one side. A fire needs fighting with any means to hand; discussion of why the fire started comes after it has been put out.

And yet when metaphorical fires are threatening so many theatres simultaneously time has to be found to seek their cause and probe for solutions. The danger is that if longer-term issues are not addressed the fire-fighting will continue until the roof collapses or the fire-fighters themselves collapse with exhaustion.’

Maybe there are still some venues that recognise this position and its relevance today.

After all in some quarters – both companies and funders - the response to what used to be called receiving theatres – a less than active term – is still based on a mistaken impression that their programmes are just a series of slots to be filled by a director sitting in front of a Sasco wall-planner – with all the coloured symbols. And not satisfied until it’s filled with green triangles, red circles and blue lines.

But, since that report much has changed.

Theatre managers have realised the potential that can be offered by these venues.

There is ambition –

to promote a quality programme,

to attract and develop audiences,

to plan ahead,

to develop artistic quality,

to be recognised as a cultural ambassador for the area

to take charge of the programme and its direction rather than respond to ‘the best deal’

And this is not mutually exclusive to the wish to maintain and increase levels of earned income.

In all – to give their venue a profile - to be recognised for something more than just presenting a rather unfocussed mixed programme.

To a varying degree the same scenario applies to both the larger and smaller venues where presentation is the focus.
CHANGES

So what are the big changes affecting presenting theatres?

– Setting objectives – where the theatre might go next – how will it get there – who are the partners

and improving the clarity of objectives and how they are monitored – thinking longer term – and being specific about social aims

– Seeking an artistic balance in programming – venues are becoming less responsive to the cold call and more interested in seeking work of quality that will help them develop their objectives

– A reappraisal of relationships with funders, touring companies, customers and staff

Most important the Partnership with touring companies:

Finding different ways of doing the ‘courtship’ ritual: ‘pencilling’ / negotiating the date, light, firm, faint and doing the deal’ - cutting the financial cake and the stick it on the contra approach

Establishing longer term partnerships – agreeing joint initiatives and building markets –identifying joint marketing approaches, developing the joint financial cake to set the agenda for the deal

Developing a joint understanding of artistic planning/balanced programming through the development of the formal partnership. Even developing a joint Strategic Plan – a 3 year plan to be used as a framework to guide and channel resources

The joint venue/company understanding of each others artistic ethos, marketing approaches, planning schedules are crucial.

Partnerships are also allowing longer term planning. Many venues have been programming the key events for Autumn 2004 since before the summer and discussions are already taking place regarding touring from the rest of the UK in Spring and Summer 2005.

The venue/company relationship should also offer a more secure base for developing new work – both organisations committed to finding appropriate ways of developing an audience. And, developing other new approaches.

Quote: Northern Stage ideas for a ‘residency’.

MARKET PLACE

And now let’s look at the market place…..

So what are theatres looking for in English Language Touring

– the choice of work available
– quality
– consistency both in terms of quality, style, regularity – companies that can build audience loyalty
– sellability
– and affordability
– and companies that can recognise the venues’ position, aims and needs.

When Creu Cymu was first set up we Iooked first for English language work made in Wales. But where can it be found on a consistent basis? Whatever scale of venue there appears to be a problem.

As an exercise you could count the number of revenue funded English Language Touring Companies in Wales on the middle-scale circuit and would have plenty of fingers left – probably on one hand. Clwyd Theatr Cymru are also funded to tour but they are a producing theatre that tours – not a company solely dedicated to touring.

There are other possible sources of work from the other two producing theatres - The Torch and The Sherman. And, here an unashamed plug for the Torch - twice at the start of their Autumn season they have presented a classic text – on the curriculum – the kind of production that venues want to promote. ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and ‘Of Mice and Men’. Both excellent productions that should have been available for touring. The Sherman used to offer more touring than it does today and could also play a major role in providing product. Other venues in Wales also have ambitions to produce their own work on a regular, maybe once a year, basis and tour it.

There have also been examples of venues working in partnership to commission work from Welsh companies – most recently a new version of “the Tinder Box” by Charles Way presented by Theatre Gwent and “Caitlin” jointly produced by Taliesin Arts Centre and The Sherman.
There has also been work project funded through ACW and therefore dependent not only on the quality of the application, but the numbers of applications received, the overall level of funding available and priorities.

Quote: Mappa Mundi – after fairly regular project funding - off the road for a period - following problems in being able to achieve more consistent funding. It had clearly fulfilled an important role for venues in the past since it was one company that many asked us to pursue.

And there are the new companies that need support and encouragement – and even when that’s there –

Quote: Steel Wasps – despite venue support they have not yet had the opportunity to build on the success of their first pieces of touring work.

Smaller venues rely even more heavily on project companies - there is no regular provision from Wales.

So we find ourselves having to go to English Language Theatre companies from the rest of the UK to fulfil venues’ development needs - including the provision of work of companies of high profile.

And we’re in a completely different culture – middle-scale companies visiting English and Scottish venues - many of which have the same capacity as Welsh venues - but used to performing full weeks and achieving fees of: 17 – 20 – 24K or more.

Some of these are just the companies the venues need to balance and develop programmes and provide more high profile input – but why should they come to Wales? They have their venues in England, most of our venues can only afford to promote split weeks – many don’t have the catchment to do much else - and the fees are almost out of reach.

The question is how to develop ELT in Wales?

The aim of the venues is to be able to present balanced programmes – promoting work from a variety of sources. They need to both buy in work, and participate in its creation through joint commissioning.

I have tried to highlight the potential that already exists in Wales through the present infrastructure. But all areas require investment – promoters, producers and performers.

So where does it start? Investing in the promoters – the buyers – to create a realistic market where promoters can afford to negotiate realistic prices with companies and can invest in commissions? Or investing in the producers to create work that requires subsidy in order that venues can afford to promote it?.

Do we need to create establish a production company or consider the Scottish model of a producing management?

In theory the idea of a management that can facilitate production – to work with the sector on developing a long term action plan – that could work across presenting venues of all scales – that could identify gaps and commission work from a range of diverse sources – is a good one.

However my impression is that the infrastructure of promoters and producers in Scotland is more stable – more secure than it is in Wales at present. So we need first to focus on our infrastructure – encouraging co-operation, the development of a strategy and investing in our potential to provide the range and quality of ELT required.

Planning of the work should be undertaken with the venues and other agencies to provide consistency of opportunity throughout the year. At particular times of year there is a glut of touring on offer – October 2004 particularly.

Also it should not take resources away from existing promoters and providers. There is a strong infrastructure of venues and companies in Wales that offer considerable potential to provide the quality and a full range of English Language work. England’s Theatre Strategy shows what can be achieved for both venues and companies by identifying and investing in existing potential and that should be our starting point.

Charlie Way, Freelance Playwright: What Artists Want:

Charlie explained that he was going to concentrate on what Playwrights need.

He talked about the varying stages in his career progress, starting with “rough theatre” touring to 40 community and small-scale venues with his first play, and the company returning again and again to those venues with more new work. This gave him a footing in Wales as a young playwright. His plays are now being done repeatedly in Wales and the UK. The infrastructure (then) can rise to many writers: Larry Allen, Greg Cullen, Lucy Gough are a few.

Playwrights need companies. The network of companies doing plays one after another is gone. Plays with songs “rough magic theatre” of the 70s and 80s were a unique brand of theatre. He bemoaned the demise of Community Touring: Hijinx doing one community tour per year is not enough.

The ACW recent increase in contribution to the TIE companies of 800k is already producing more writer’s commissions flowing from that.

English Language and Young People’s Theatre have been central to Charlie’s working life. Artists need to be able to plan ahead also. In an ideal world, he would like to be able to create new work over a 2 year period, not the 12 week rush “on demand” situation that often exists as last-minute decisions over funding create opportunities.

He would like to see the reinstating of Rural Touring. New Perspectives, Mansfield, have created 36 new plays in 10 years, touring village halls with this new work. This model could still be reborn in Wales.

He also called for more funds to existing companies; they are part of the infrastructure we need to re-build communities and provide work for actors, writers, designers et al.

He asked where are the mature playwrights in Wales? Where do they go?

He talked of the nature of the English in Wales idiom. This has been successful as regards published poetry, but not for publishing plays. (Seren aren’t publishing plays at the moment – so writers in Wales have to go outside of Wales).

He would like to see a “Soho Theatre” for Cardiff. A place that raises critical debate, raises the status of writing in Wales, a dedicated space in Cardiff where the play is paramount.

He senses plays aren’t respected in Wales and there should be an investment perhaps through awards (including money!). A writer is paid on 5.5k for a play that might take six months to write. Again, this is the same money for a playwright who is starting out in their career as for the experienced writer.

He summarised his main points to be :

There is a need for opportunities for playwrighting to be practised.
There is a need for theatres where playwrights can learn their craft.
Writers need a culture that supports them.
Publishing is crucial.
The infrastructure in Wales needs to be strengthened from the bottom to the top.

He would like to see:
money ring-fenced for writer’s commissions.
A dedicated new writing theatre space in Cardiff
And
Opportunities supported for second production.





The Chair summarised some points from these presentations:

Invest in the infrastructure – at different levels from the creators to staging product
Deliver Consistency and Quality
Be allowed to take risks
Be allowed to fail


REPORTS FROM BREAKOUT GROUPS:

THE PRODUCERS:

Capitalise on points of Agreement (there was major agreement to almost everything discussed in this breakout group).

Needs to be Radical Investment in All parts of the existing infrastructure. At every level.

Noted there should be a commitment to the Labour Manifesto as opposed to what has been delivered. (Manifesto pre-Assembly was for 6m to the arts. The current minister has just reduced a 2m fund to arts outside Cardiff by 1.25m in the first year.

Keep flagging up to the Assembly the commitment they make is crucial.

Much is based on opinion not fact. Need to go back to looking at facts to inform the future etc. e.g. Peter’s loyalty, audience loyalty at home venues and to touring companies/venues.

Not working to capacity – facilities/expertise not being fully utilised.

Views on the notion of a National theatre are varied. Now is not the time. The infrastructure is not there. It should not be an institution or a hallowed shrine. All companies are part of the National product of Wales.

Single entity – collective term for all companies.

On the Fact theme -> Commission a report from someone that knows Wales and has the status of e.g. Peter Boyden. Look at what we have now and where we want to go.

Contrary to popular opinion the artistic asset base in Cardiff has been eroded (link with Local Authorities). Relationships have not been very open to discussing development of Theatre in the Capital City. Some Cardiff based companies provide a service outside of Cardiff. Companies could tour more out of Cardiff if supported to do so.

ACW working party (due to report in March 2004).
This should not be predicated on an additional company/ entity being the automatic outcome.

Partnership (between producers and presenters) is essential but needs funding.

There should be Bursaries to get young people into venues to work.
New talent/blood is needed artistically - actors, writers, carpenters, across the skills of our trade.
The loss of ensemble companies needs to be addressed.



PRESENTERS:

Similar themes to those discussed by Producers:

Investment needed in Producers, Presenters
Invest in the presenters to promote the work – they don’t have the facility to take the risk at the moment and are having to go to Scottish and Irish companies for work to tour to rural venues as this work isn’t produced in Wales any more.

There was a plea for presenters to take more initial risk and develop audiences together with producers. (but if this means new this = risk).

Audiences tend to be conservative outside of Cardiff and Swansea.

Companies from England are often cheaper (in fees) than those from Wales.
Audiences should be able to see the best of work from Wales as well as the UK.
Schemes are available for funding to bring companies in from Ireland/England etc., but not to support work from Wales.
Creu Cymru -> look at taking work out of Wales as well as bringing work in. (Cross Border relationship with South West Touring Agency.)

ACW to consider Ace National Touring Policy funded by Lottery.

Commission report into what adequate production/touring/presentation across Wales would cost. This can be used as a measure/a benchmark for presentations to politicians.

In the short-term to give Torch and the Sherman extra money to take tours out.

Young people key to all aspects.

Project funding (ACW) decline.

Welsh work can be more expensive to buy in – also shortage of product to buy.


ARTISTS:

Again, similarities with other groups.

There needs to be a healthy ecology and strategy for companies and presenters to be better funded.

A National Theatre only:-
in the context of a strategy
once existing infrastructure has been adequately funded.

A forum is needed, to raise discussion and debate between producers and presenters and artists.

Investment in passionate young artists and structures that support them.

New Welsh Books Council arrangements for publishing - they have no theatre expertise.

Rise profile in the media.

Courage from ACW to move on and make artistic judgements/critical debate/fora.



The Chair summarised from these presentations:

Invest in the infrastructure – see how this delivers before looking at what another National Theatre could deliver.





Discussion from the Floor:

Theatre in England continued for 700 years before they set up their National theatre – theatre in Wales has only been going 30 years – what’s the rush!?

Now is not the right time for a National Theatre.

Strength of Agreement today.

Don’t use the term “National”

ACW are moving into a six month period of consultation. No pre-set answers.
Why is there a need for consultation?
reinstate historic numbers of shows.

This is timely to challenge everyone’s thinking about existing structures/models and infrastructure for theatre. There is too much rigidity of thinking, clarity is important, but so is flexibility.
Would like to see relationship building (rather than current narrow remits) and partnership.
Community groups to serve bigger constituencies
More efficient recycling of current work
A radical look at structures
Look at new models.
International touring fund (for companies to spend six months to one year to rehearse a show and allow time for creative thinking).

We are “partnershipped-out” – partnerships with schools, with education, but what has been cut is the professional work. Setting up partnerships doesn’t necessarily move us forward.

Discussion between producers and presenters needs to be encouraged. What do presenters want? Do presenters not want what the producers are producing?

Are we selling to our audiences in the right way?


SPEAKER:

JOYCE MCMILLAN, Theatre Critic for The Scotsman

Joyce noted similar patterns and differences occurring in Wales as in Scotland. Similarities arise from the situation.

The Scotland National Theatre is about to take shape.

She made observations about the culture in general
a low salience of Theatre in Welsh Life
a lack of media attention or recognition
low public awareness

She talked of a collective amnesia of what has been achieved in the past and cited examples of The Abbey theatre and the Traverse where there is a growth from one generation to the next. Also characteristics of not very empowered art forms, low identification between theatre and national culture; “Theatre is what the English are good at”!

She observed the Welsh are known for poetry and song, the Scots for the Novel, Poetry and song. This changed through debate on a National theatre. People became interested in having a say.

Build the infrastructure -> there are many more companies in SAC than in Wales, plus substantial project money and shoestring theatre, there is a bigger scene with a substantial amount going on.

The Key in Scotland has been the repertoire, and the confidence in their own repertoire. What is needed in Wales is a Traverse theatre, dedicated to new writing, with a constant throughput of new writers, high status, to develop a critical mass.

The Tron also plays an important role including 2nd production.

She spoke of the importance of getting energy around Welsh/English inversions and translations: In Scotland, Liz Lockhead produced a Scots inflected Moliere production. There is a wide range of repertoire that is crucial to the confidence of theatre.

She outlined three key characteristics of the Scottish Theatre model, which is written into the DNA of the Scottish Theatre product:

One: designed to be federal and not competitive – not a building – not a centre
A Commissioning plan
A devise to get more more
And put this money into companies.

Two: a Bottom up process:
The ’90s federation of Scottish Theatres
The “by-line” used by ALL companies “The xxx Theatre is part of the Scottish National Theatre Community”.
The Idea of Federal = geographically and culturally diverse.
1 (above) is then supported by the companies.
Coming up from the Artistic Community itself.

Three: A developmental plan, which led to:
The notion of “pausing” – we can’t go on with this – the structure isn’t right = SAC needs more money.
Existing Theatre had strong bargaining power
A better infrastructure
Proper Administration
No more poverty Wages
A step towards a National Theatre.


For the politicians that gave a clear message “we need more money”. How do we get this for adult English Language Theatre in Wales? Political arguments that can release money:

Present a unified lobbying force to WAG
Powers can be limited – an awful lot of money would be needed to transform the National Health Service, in the arts the sums are very small comparatively but could transform the theatre scene in Wales tomorrow – so just do it!

Joyce felt the fact that people will work for poverty wages is a disgrace. Why should people think that artists don’t need money?
Attack regional governments on this abuse of people’s commitment and energy.
Nations need to recognise their own diversity.
Wide spread of production bases reflects pluralism of the regions.
The Nation Needs Glamour.

The “quaint” Celtic Fringe, infantilised, not very grown up.
We need big sexy productions with big sexy actors!
There is a sexy energy in Welsh Theatre
Flog that to the Welsh Assembly Government!
There are ways to step up funding for theatre
Fight the campaign
You do a great job on shamefully small resources
There should be at least 12 strong producing companies in Wales.


Questions/points made from the floor:

There is a culture in Wales of personality – it’s not Clwyd Theatr Cymru, its Terry Hands, and, the Bogdanov and Clark paper was not known as a proposal for a Federal structure in Wales. What can we learn from in Scotland?

Joyce suggested countering this with always talking about the work and the repertoire. Focus on the work and the energy in the work. At political level, it is likely people will still talk about individuals though.

What advice could Joyce give on lobbying? It is hard in Wales to be taken seriously by the Media…

For the media concentrate on – comparative funding levels are appalling (taking out YPT, new writing etc. and what is left is appalling. Compare the core producing companies in Wales with Scotland. And, the poverty wages point.

All sing from the same song sheet
Emphasise the potential
Talk confidently and positively (media and politicians like this)
Get Welsh stars back – (politicians like this).


Colleagues from the Pavillion Theatre in Dublin confirmed this approach and cited their poster campaign around all venues (27% less dance product if funding wasn’t increased. This also had a knock-on for their tourist industry – visitors noticing these statements). They said, be committed, be convinced, be positive.


Columnists and people who write in the media can help –
Critics’ awards can help
All helps create culture and critical mass.

It was pointed out that we have no national stringers in Wales and we can’t get into the national press. When we tour in England we get national reviews, but not when we perform in Wales.

Feedback from Breakout Discussion Groups pm:

NATIONAL AMBITIONS


There should be a by-line on being a national theatre that everyone can use, it should be:
Collectively owned ]
Diverse ] ethos
Bottom up ]
Not imposed ]

The concept is more important than personalities

Tactics:
A powerful argument was noted as being:

The poverty of people working in the sector.

And the negative impact of doing nothing was noted.

Advocacy:

Set up a Theatre Forum to use as a resource and increase links (also perhaps to act as agencies to help to sell work and access additional funding)

Avoid “padding” risk (danger that another layer may produce more “padding” between producers and presenters).

ACW tries to be accessible

Ring Fence money for Production – avoid leakage into building costs. [If this means buildings have to close – then so be it.]

ACW to protect project funds – not to be cut – too important.

If consultancy is to be funded by ACW do in conjunction with PAG /WAPA/Creu Cymru [on a equal footing – also with people from outside]

This group summarised their points as:

Concentrate on the existing Infrastructure.
Lobbying.
Respect what we’ve got.
Create a sense of excitement through enabling more project-funded projects to happen.
Project funds are valuable and should be protected.
Include/use the expertise within Wales for the consultancy.




ACCESS AND AUDIENCES:

Access
Not always direct link with audience attendance e.g. youth theatre participation [perhaps participation is enough (not coming to see the work – and accept that is ok)].

Price? Is this a factor with e.g. 18-22 yr old students studying film/TV etc?

If there is money to invest in and build audiences, who should have it? Venues? [It is the venue that builds audience loyalty].

Under-investment in Community Theatre.

This group summarised their points as:

Share Resources
Good Quality Product [How do you know its good? Funding shortage = -> don’t take risks]
The right to fail.
Lack of Planning – goes right down the line to marketing depts. (example)
Image/Description of product
Range and choice

[Example Newtown Diversions project – 1p seats sold out with a completely different audience, captured names/addresses, now have a new audience to offer a deal for next performance. Bar takings up etc.]


THEATRE IN THE COMMUNITY:

If activity falls below a critical mass quality suffers
Link to community work from TIE

Night out – useful scheme – schemes are frameworks and as good as the way they are administered.

Lottery:
The Impact of the fall in Lottery funding
The Lottery has changed habits
[created an unfillable gap?]

How to get sports orientated minister to engage with the arts?
(WAG consultation)

ACW not only source of funding.

How to make broader requests for money:
Make a broader appeal for support through Education and Health where we make a direct provision but they make little contribution.

Need to be proactive in policy making.

Devolution has brought decision-makers closer to us.

Regret loss of small ensemble companies [hosting performances in the communities where the actors are the company].
Lack of continuity – collective memory.



Further Comments from the Floor:

AUDIENCES:
Impact of computers/TV
Growing power of -> going to see things over the border

But Young Audiences are growing nevertheless and there isn’t enough product to satisfy audiences…


MESSAGES - CONCLUSIONS:

Build on existing investment and infrastructure [a priority before anything else is done]

Look to protect Project funding and training (into productions)
There is a need for Commissions for writers
Pay National Minimum rates and touring allowances – companies can choose to pay over this for people with more experience. Companies should take into account these costs in their project applications. ACW should at least encourage companies they fund via Revenue or Project funds to pay agreed minima.

ACW consultation – use existing for a WAPA/PAG/CREU CYMRU – on equal footing with ACW.

How to represent the interests of project funded companies’ needs to be addressed.
Celebrate the quality of work going on in Wales.


LOBBYING:

Find things that would appeal to politicians:

Sport (compare numbers attending football with those attending theatre)
Communities [and what live theatre can contribute to a community]

Share Joyce McMillan’s speech

Encourage a common identity/federalism?

Don’t be shy of the quality of what we are doing

Get back a sense of motivation and ambition. Work with politicians but don’t rely on them.

The answers are within ourselves.

We achieve a lot with a little. We could do more with more.

Boast about talent base and quality of work in Wales.

Plurality and diversity instead of finger pointing.

Could WAPA try to put some comparative figures together?
Yes – try but acknowledge the difficulties.

Need to be at one with ACW to put the case to WAG

Use the report from today to take forward the debate to inform the ACW working group.

author:Margaret Jones

original source: WAPA
24 December 2003

 

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