Harlow Playhouse and Hertford Theatre will work together to create a West Essex/East Herts hub, working with Jolie Booth, independent producer and Director of Kriya Arts, to develop and champion equality and diversity, reducing barriers to creativity, participation and learning, caused by disability, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, class or age. To further these aims, the partners will focus on three strands of work:
Research, experiment and create models to maximize access through existing programming strands- focusing on good practice in engagement, audience development and practical adaptations- that can be freely and easily adopted by fellow small to mid-scale presenting venues across the wider region. There is an aspiration to create a practical toolkit and branded ‘Standard’, to provide clarity and confidence to venues looking to bridge the gap in current provision. This will include ‘OPEN SPACE’, a valuable practical tool for unlocking ideas and perspectives.
To research, experiment and create new audience development projects that expand the use and exposure of venues, whilst keeping projects simple, deliverable, and transferable. There is an aspiration to create playful activities that break down pre-conceptions of theatre-going, and how our venues are used. It is also envisaged that longer-term, more ambitious projects may be explored during the partnership period, which may pave the way for further funding and projects beyond. Again, an emphasis would be on ‘transferability’, and relationships being forged with artists and companies.
EXTRA LIVE and Relaxed Performances
To create opportunities for ‘Relaxed’ performances and to develop ‘EXTRA LIVE’ as a highly engaging and satisfying form of theatre, where the theatre-going experience is enhanced through the two-way interactivity between artist and participant. Following the success of Touretteshero’s Backstage in Biscuit Land, which was produced by Jolie, there is a growing interest in capturing the essence of enhanced participation in performance- which runs throughout theatre history- and to champion its use, partly in response to the Theatre Charter etiquette movement which can hinder access and audience development. There is currently a restless appetite to further the ideals of EXTRA LIVE, with the possibility of creating a ‘Conference of Venues’ interested in exploring this work as well as opening up conversations with the wider theatre community.
The aspirations of the partnership are to stimulate the following outcomes:
- Create a practical toolkit and ‘Standard’ to clarify, assist and give confidence to small to mid-scale presenting venues looking to improve access and audience development.
- Create practical examples and relationships for simple but effective access and audience development programming, transferable for small to mid-scale venues.
- To develop ‘Relaxed’ and ‘EXTRA LIVE’ programming, contributing to a Conference of Venues.
- Professional and organisational development for Jolie and Kriya Arts in working integrally with two different venues and a wider programme of work.
- Professional and organisational development for Harlow Playhouse and Hertford Theatre staff, improving their capacities for audience development, partnership work and commissioning.
- Onwards development for the wide range of partners, collaborators and future beneficiaries.
- Create company access and inclusivity policies as transferable examples for small to mid-scale touring theatre companies to implement.