Conversations about culture

July 1, 2009

I’m currently facilitating a series of conversations with Ireland’s theatre makers on ideas about a new policy for theatre funding. My client is the Arts Council of Ireland and I’ve been privileged to have been involved in many of these types of consultations in the past. The current financial climate is weighing heavily on everybody’s minds here right now and it’s fair to say that there isn’t enough existing state funding to resource the current state of the arts so how do we even think about succession and new generations?
The conversations are wide ranging – moving between the very real cuts in budgets that have been visited on organisations and artists and the opportunity that this climate presents for re-imagining how theatre could be resourced into the future. There are lots of good ideas, no consensus, much disagreement, a good dollop of disappointment but also an emerging sense of collaboration. There has always been collaboration in this community but some of the ideas emerging now are an extension of the informal arrangements we’ve seen in the past.
As ever, it’s balancing the tensions and looking after the boundaries that is the most interesting area for me as facilitator. Holding on to what works while also creating a flexible structure that can respond to the ‘wild card’ as one contributor remarked. Not only viewing ’emergence’ as a young or new artist phenomenon; creating environments where mid career is something that occurs at any point in an artist’s creative life; investing in what works really well while also recognising that some structures may be temporal.
The conversations haven’t come up with firm answers but there’s certainly a richness of conversation that extends beyond the immediate needs of this generation happening. The question I have in my mind as I facilitate these discussions is – what kind of theatre (or arts) infrastructure are we envisaging in 20 – 30 years time? and what do we need to do now to ensure we get there?
Hat tip to Artworld Salon for the image