Let the sun shine in – creative joy & collaboration

la la land openingThere’s a creakiness which pervades my creative bones at the start of the New Year. A time to catch up on emails, read a load of assignment submissions from producers, re-arrange the diary with meetings which were planned for “must meet after Christmas”, and then see where my own inspiration is going to come from.

This year so many of my colleagues are knee deep in the final stages of their massive, and massively important, applications to the Arts Council. I wish them well in the final few days of preparing the perfect plans for the next 4 years of operation. I wish the Arts Council officers immense good hope as they prepare to wade through a mass of material, and try to reach a consensus which will offer a first picture of how the arts landscape may look in the future. Almost every theatre, theatremaker, and creative in the land will be affected by these decisions. If there are cuts, where will they fall ? If there are new energies and new rising stars what will they be ? And for those who remain, to serve another 4 years, they will then be able to make their plans real and engage with all of us who make, live, breathe and consume the arts.   A few months of silent waiting will follow the Feb 1st deadline – nervous times, but let’s all hope for the best.

380 people gathered in Bristol this last weekend for the annual event which, usually, oils my creakiness so that there is a creative spring in my step, and a massive to-do list by the time I return from being Devoted and Disgruntled. Sadly this year I could not be there, but that’s no problem. I can be inspired from a distance by the amazing reports flowing through

There are over 2000 reports online from the meetings which have been hosted since D&D started 12 years ago. If you are interested in puppetry, opera, Liverpool, depression, cats, nudity, and how people have chosen to explore the performing arts around these tags [Note – I have just checked…there are 21 reports which mention cats]

This time last year I called a session on “Clothing Optional Theatre” which has led to a year of open space discussions around how we choose to reveal our bodies through life performance and art. Last Sunday colleagues called an anniversary session to explore “Revelation” around the same themes, and I look forward to reading more and seeing how we move forward for 2017/18 with these ideas.

Monday evening I was one of the guest critics/mentors at The Scenic Route – an event where writers/composers show elements of their new work to a small audience, and where two of us give our (hopefully helpful) feedback. For some writers it is their first ever showing of a new piece/idea, and it is a fragile early stage discussion. For others it is a robust piece that needs some challenging, whilst the writers need some ideas on where they could move next. My immense thanks to Tammy Mendelson  for creating this safe (but challenging) platform for writers, and to Rob Hartmann for being up there with me in front of the audience giving our very personal views.

Tuesday I spent the day in CGO Surgeries and coaching – one on one sessions with a theatre producer, a writer, a director, an artistic director, and a writer – in each case exploring with them the path they want to take in 2017 and the next steps through overwhelm (sometimes) and creakiness (sometimes).  And Wed/Thur with the Mountview producers of the future, as they move from overwhelm to excitement for 2017.

Bristol D&D, Scenic Route, Surgeries, Mountview courses are all examples of the most important thing we can ask for as creative beings – the chance to share an idea, a passion, a vision, or a problem with a fellow creative. Many of us we sit at our laptops in silent communion with our spreadsheets, word docs, glorious scores, and daunting funding applications – but we are making work which needs collaborators (ultimately audience as collaborators) – so thank you to Phelim and Improbable, Tammy of Scenic Route, my colleagues at Mountview, and all the staff of the National who welcome me with tea & croissants for the surgeries.   Holding space to allow conversations and collaborations to grow.

Feeling less creaky just writing this. A blast of “Another day of sun” from La La Land has just passed by – now there’s positivity in a musical arrangement.

Here’s to a new year, new art, new opportunities, great orchestrations, and new funds to flow.


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