CGO Institute – Producing a different future

Producers are the employers, inventors and facilitators of the future

“The Best Way To Predict The Future Is To Create It” Abraham Lincoln.

I suspect no-one reading this page can predict the future. It will not be the same as the past. I am 62 and I will not be producing theatre for new audiences in new ways in the future. But I can offer my experience as a coach and teacher, gather a faculty of diverse and inspiring practitioners, and champion the new creatives making new work in new ways.

Alongside this work CGO Institute will reach out to people who don’t yet know that they are the future and they can create it. For some, theatre producing is shrouded in mystery, believing they need to move to London/New York for intensive training, or feeling that it is not for someone like me or my community.

The diploma must be accessible to and welcomed by aspirational creatives irrespective of class, race, gender, sexuality, location, and access support needs. Our aim is to build a cohort which reflects the audience we want to see engaged in theatre in the future.

Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of the Young Vic Theatre in London said (May 6th 2020 BBC) “When theatres do turn the lights back on, those who have often been excluded in the past must be present. From class to race to gender, we have made great progress over the last few years in our sector in trying to equalise it. I’m determined absolutely that all of that progress that we’ve made cannot go for naught. We have to rebuild with that as a fundamental.”

We want to do everything we can to ensure that the participants in the first few cohorts on the Diploma really reflect and champion the diversity of the UK population (for example 19.5% non-white British UK census, 16% working age disabled), and take up the challenge to replicate that diversity in the stories they help to bring to the stage and the audience they attract into the theatres and spaces we perform in. As a Scottish based organisation we also wish to reach out with the diploma and extended workshops across the Country mindful that Rural Scotland accounts for 98% of the land mass of Scotland and 17% of the population.

In the end artists and audiences need to see themselves reflected in the managements and offices of the arts of the future. That starts by working to see that change in the classrooms (especially cloud-based) which are offering pathways into the business.

How will theatre be different post-covid? As Black Lives Matter changes thinking amongst all theatremakers ? And as turmoil across the world through pandemic, war, dis-harmony, and the climate emergency changes our planet ?

We have much to learn from each other. Join us and think about a new future in which you will be the inventor, employer and enabler of the theatre and the performing arts you want to see in the world.

To help CGO in this work we have gathered an advisory/guardian group who together with the Faculty have ‘lived experience’ which covers the 9 protected characteristics of the UK Equality Act. Together we have further lived and learned experience to offer, and intersectionality across characteristics. This group will be there to support and challenge the work of the CGO Institute on behalf of the audience and practitioners of the future.

My thanks to the following for joining the group as we start the CGO Institute. Amy Trigg /actor and writer, Andrea Hall / actor and writer, Dollie Henry / jazz choreographer, Fin Ross Russell / storyteller and theatre activist, Flo O’Mahony / theatre director and facilitator, Miiko Toiviainen / actor, Paul Whittaker OBE / musician and MT signer, Tanya Agarwal / theatre producer, along with the CGO Associates Kath Burlinson, Kate Taylor, Kate Reed and Tania Azevedo.

Draft policy and procedure documents on all aspects of equity, diversity, equality and inclusion are being drawn up and reviewed by our advisors. These will be used to inform our practice, and as a teaching tool for all studying with the Diploma. They are work in progress, and will benefit from the input in class and from our growing understanding of what is needed. If you would like to read/comment on the drafts please email chris [at] chrisgrady [dot] org

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