Ready Steady Cook

The Kitchen / Arnold Wesker

Last night the UK Government announced a package of funds for the English theatre and cultural scene which may offer a reprieve to those organisations that have not already made their staff redundant or gone into receivership.  There was also a welcome announcement 2 days ago from the Scottish First Minister which felt enormously encouraging for us here.  So the expected infrastructure crash which could have lost us 75% of our theatres may be averted. However there is little or nothing yet announced to give comfort to the creators, the freelancers, the people who actually do the cooking in the creative kitchens.  The pots and pans are saved, the cooker will still work, the managers will retain their jobs, now we need to ensure the creative cooks have the chance to produce the dishes which our hungry customers deserve and need to feed their souls and hearts.

This series of Blogs are charting the development of the new Diploma in Creative Producing from the new CGO Institute which will welcome its first creative producers to join us on 2nd November to cook up a feast.

We already have some producers signed up for the course. More interviews this week. And we have enquiries and applications coming through. If you are interested in a 16 week, cloud-based classroom exploring all aspects of producing with fellow international aspirational producers of the future, with a faculty of 20 leading practitioners – just get in touch.

It feels governments in many countries are helping the arts buildings and infrastructure step back from the brink of closure and disaster. The UK is doing is too late for some, but it is doing it.  But what these containers of artistry will need is the creative producers to cook up the new tasty feast which is needed. The next generation of producers will be the inventors, the employers and the faciliators of the future.  We who teach producing, or my contemporaries that lead organisations, are not the future of the creative industries. But we can help to guide, support, champion and teach the next generation.

So dear governments of all nations. Don’t just save the kitchens from crashing and burning, you have to help save the hundreds of thousands of freelance staff who bring these creative palaces of culture alive, and you have to give them the initial fuel to help them start a new creative fire in this country.

It is difficult to protest when the headlines are of a saviour £1.57b from the English government (and £10m from the Scottish Government plus £100m of the £1.57b for our infrastructure), but we have to keep up the pressure so that the future generations of creative producers have the skill base to invent with, to employ, and to facilitate to make a dainty dish.

This week I begin the writing of the more detailed recipies for the first cohort to cook with when they arrive in November. A series of carefully crafted lesson plans on marketing, fundraising, project planning, understanding how different countries relish their culture and how theatre and the performing arts fit into the social, political and economic interweaving of a nation. We will be looking at making shows, research and development, moving work from small tasty dishes to a position where some can be reproduced and tasted by people all over the world.  I have no idea what the new cohort of producers will cook up, but the job I have, together with the Faculty around the world, is to help them find their paths, show them what we have done right and wrong in the past, and help them make connections.

I feel more confident this morning that the next generations can step forward when the call goes out to be Ready, Steady, Cook – but we old guards will continue to shout about the need for support for this future generation, and the skill base that already exists. Support for the vast freelance community which could still be lost in the crash of the cultural sector.  Hopefully today’s announcement is the start of a better future. I hope not too many will be lost. But please remember – for some this is too little too late. This from a friend running a small arts venue in England: “Germany announces coronavirus financial support for the arts on March 26th. France does the same on May 6th. UK July 5th. Excuse me for not jumping with excitement but we’ve just mothballed our venue and made our staff redundant. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad it’s coming but as with everything else so far this year in our dear country, we are fatally late to the game. Some arts organisations have died already.”

Dear friends – keep up the pressure to support the freelancers, re-visit and re-love your venues, offer help to those who may be in an enforced coma, and know that the world needs the next generation of creative producers to find new paths and make new dishes to set before our hungry customers.

1 Comment

  1. Looking forward to hearing the details of this fund and the consequentials for devolved governments.

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