I’m taking part in a Battle of Ideas event Who Needs Art Anyway? this Saturday 20th Oct.
It starts with each of us laying out a five min case, then some discussion, then some Q&A.
At the moment I’m not quite sure what I’ll say.
I know I often (always) bang the lack-of-women gong, and more here.
I regularly speak and write about how the arts (and artists) often don’t even notice there is a class issue at work.
Seeing that the blurb only mentions theatre in the guise of the West End and doesn’t mention written word/spoken word AT ALL, it occurs to me I might find myself arguing in favour of the fringe, of small scale theatre companies, and of writing.
Because I do see women writers and women theatremakers making work on the fringe and in small companies in a way I simply don’t see us doing the same on our big funded (and West End) stages. And I do see BME audiences at fringe venues, for most work, whereas the ONLY time I’ve ever seen non-white audiences (in any numbers) at somewhere like the National or the RSC, is when the work is written by or starring BME makers.
Sure, we can all do better, on both levels, on all levels, but I have a sense the fringe is doing a damn sight better with diverse audiences, per capita, than the funded and monied venues are. (Anecdotal yes, but isn’t all our understanding at least based on what we see, what we feel?)
And I certainly see younger people flocking to fringe theatre – especially as makers and but also as consumers – in a way they def aren’t flocking to the West End.
In library, bookshop and book festival reading/book talk gigs I often (less than fringe, admittedly) see a wider demographic than I see at much more heavily funded places too.
Hmm, an argument in favour of taking the money from the big boys and sharing it out a bit more? Surely not.
ps – well, yes, of course it would be great to give money to the big boys AND the little kids. But that’s not how it works, is it?