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Images: Damn Seagulls (Mike Edwards.) Confessions of a Cockney Temple Dancer (Shane Shambu.) Crackle. Dust. (Company of Others.)
I’ve watched more theatre and performance this week than usual, due to an exciting collision of events, shows and residencies. There’s been a huge amount to do in between so I have had little time so far to really reflect on what I have seen and heard.
Alongside the three full length shows and six excerpts I’ve watched, I’ve packed in four staff appraisals, completion and submission of our annual report to the Arts Council, four meetings with artists, planning for a festival and development of a plan for a huge multi-partner project later in the year - plus 300+ emails about anything and everything you could possibly imagine.
This is not me saying ‘look how much I’ve done’, but rather a way of demonstrating the variety in my job, which is why I love it so much. Jumping from one thing to another is like-tuning a radio – on good days, it’s digital and you can just press a button and shift your brain instantly, on others is analogue, and you get a bit of fuzziness in between. But you never get bored.
The week started with us hosting an artist showcase at The Hullabaloo in Darlington for rural touring scheme managers and promoters, as part of a development programme we are running with the Northern Consortium of rural touring schemes. I then saw a show at Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre, being presented as part of REACH, our strategic touring programme, followed by shows at ARC on Wednesday and Thursday evening and a sharing of a new musical theatre show we are supporting.
As you can imagine, it’s been quite an emotional workout – I’ve heard stories about identity and home, death, the Luddite rebellion, female heroines, the apocalypse, growing up, Northern women, life in post-industrial times, hats and grief.
What strikes me looking back is the stories that have been told with care and a sense of responsibility, not just to those whose stories are being told but for those who hear them too. I’m not an artist myself - I don’t create work - so my perspective is always from an audience’s point of view. The questions I ask when talking to artists about their work are: why would I choose to come and experience this, and what will my experience be?
That’s why ARC’s artistic policy isn’t about the type of work we support and present. It’s about why we present it and what we hope our audiences’ experience of it will be:
- ARC’s artistic policy is to present work that is contemporary and relevant. By that, we mean we want to show work that helps us understand and enjoy the world as it is today. We want to look forward, to excite you about the future.
We don’t always get this right – we support new work which involves taking risks, but we hope most audiences will recognise this intent in what they experience at ARC. Thank you to all the artists who have helped me understand and enjoy the world this week. I’m excited about the future, I hope you are.