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.
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 2014 follow-up, the In Battalions Delphi study, brought together 36 innovative solutions to this problem, sourced from and voted on by theatre professionals. These proposals suggest new ways for theatres and theatre-makers to work with the Arts Council to protect creative risk-taking on new work.
Playwright Fin Kennedy said:
“The original In Battalions study of 2013 found theatres across England cancelling shows and cutting back on creative Research and Development as a result of Government cuts to the Arts Council. The Delphi study was a solution-focused follow-up. Both studies have been widely circulated online, and carved out some valuable ‘blue skies’ space for our sector. But what’s needed now is a physical space where culture professionals can come together to make real connections to take these ideas forward. The In Battalions Festival at Central Saint Martins is the third stage of the campaign, and attempts to do just that. I’d invite anyone who cares about the future of new British theatre to come along, meet inspiring speakers and share their ideas.”
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 room will end with Cultural Question Time, a panel discussion in which representatives from all the major political parties will set out their cultural policies and take questions.
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.
Tickets to the Festival cost £20 (Freelance artists and non-NPOs), £35 (NPO funding up to 500k) and £50 (NPO funding in excess of 500k). They can be booked through http://www.inbattalionsfestival.eventbrite.co.uk. For further information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
In Battalions was a research-led report in 2013 and follow-up Delphi study in 2014 about the effects of Government cuts to the Arts Council on theatres’ capacity to develop new plays and playwrights. It has since given its name to a loose collective of professional theatre-makers eager to continue this conversation. http://finkennedy.co.uk/In-Battalions
MA Dramatic Writing
The MA Dramatic Writing is a new course at Drama Centre London, Central Saint Martins, and is dedicated to exploring new models of training for dramatic writers in the UK. The course is led by Jennifer Tuckett, who previously founded the UK’s first formally industry-partnered MA in Playwriting in partnership with the Royal Exchange Theatre, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and Octagon Theatre Bolton, ran industry-partnered projects training writers for theatre, radio drama and digital media with the BBC, and developed Guardian Masterclasses Manchester. http://www.arts.ac.uk/csm/courses/postgraduate/ma-dramatic-writing-drama-centre-london
National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs)
NPOs are client organisations of Arts Council England, which receive an annual grant for a three-year period. Applications for the last funding round closed on 14 March 2014 and the results will be announced on 1 July 2014 – just three days prior to the In Battalions Festival. In the 2011 round over 200 arts organisations lost their Arts Council support after ACE was forced to pass on a 29.6% cut to its funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. This latest round is expected to be equally dramatic.