Monday, March 30, 2009

I'm not trying to tease you by postponing the promised second part of my post about Adopt-A-Playwright, but something else has come up with a more imminent deadline which I thought might interest you.

You may recall that in the aftermath of last year's Arts Council funding bloodbath, large-scale community theatre company London Bubble was one of the organisations to get it in the neck pretty badly, to the point that they were fighting for their life for months. I blogged about the whole sorry debacle here, and mused a bit on what it said about ACE's philosophy about who they see fit to make art...

Well, under the inspired leadership of Jonathan Petherbridge they're back from the brink (for now - they've got a 'transitional grant', whatever that means) and they've come up with a really innovative scheme to overhaul the way they develop and commission shows.

Entitled 'Fan Made Theatre' it's actually a similar concept to the way in which Franny Armstrong of docudrama Age Of Stupid funded her film (see post below).

The idea is brillaintly simple: for £20 (£10 concessions) you can buy a stake in the London Bubble's next production which will allow you to suggest your own idea for what you'd like it to be about. You also get to vote on the 5 shortlisted ideas, attend rehearsals, and attend opening night for free - which would normally cost you £15 alone, so in effect you get the whole lot for a fiver.

I love ideas like this. They genuinely seem to connect companies with their audiences, not just in a 'discount tickets and education pack' sort of way, but by giving them a voice in what is actually staged in the first place.

It's not a million miles away from they way I work with students at Mulberry School where we devise a play each year to take to Edinburgh. (More on this year's show in another post soon...) But, so far as I know, Bubble's version is the first time something like this has been tried on this scale, and brought out into public from behind the closed doors of the community rehearsal room. Doubtless it will be a steep learning curve for them, but it's a really exciting new model which I will be watching with interest.

I've bought my stake. You can read more, and buy your own, here.

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