After receiving expressions of interest for our Sharing the Stage initiative, a strand of work aimed at supporting the development of high quality participatory performing arts, we were pleased to host an event at Shoreditch Town Hall on 10 September. This provided long-listed organisations with an opportunity to network and make connections with the intention of strengthening project proposals and discussing how practice in the field might be advanced.
The keynote speech was delivered by Francois Matarasso, who has a 35-year career in socially engaged arts practice, on the issue of quality in the 5 different stages of the arts production cycle. He sagely reminded us that quality and good social outcomes are inextricably linked, since a lacklustre production does not provoke the same positive and re-enforcing response from participants’ friends and family.
Other highlights included an introduction to Chrissie Tiller’s participatory alphabet, an online digest of research on participatory performing arts and Jo Burns’ short briefing on how the evaluation framework for this strand of our work will be developed.
Workshops included uplifting participatory sessions led by the Sacred Sounds Choir and Streetwise Opera. Discussion groups explored topics of interest such as how small and large organisations can work together, innovations in funding and the influence of participation on art form practice.
We are now inviting long-listed organisations to send us proposals for the development of a collaborative participatory performing arts project by 12 October 2014. At the event, we shared an analysis of the expressions of interest we received from these long-listed organisations. This analysis, which can be read here, is designed to be a prompt to help them consider how they might develop strong second stage proposals.
We want to thank everyone who attended. We look forward to working with you as we develop our learning community or community of practice on participatory performing arts. While the organisations we support with research and development funds will be the core of this group, we aspire to work with the wider community of practitioners and experts to support greater knowledge about and funding for such work.
Over the next couple of weeks we will be publishing video and other content from the event on our website so stay tuned.