I’ve had ‘write blog about Theatre and Touring Symposium’ on my to-do list for some time now, and here I am, just getting around to it... It’s not that I’ve been procrastinating (well, only a little), it’s that the purpose of the blog has changed, and I’ve been wondering what to write about.
The original idea was to write something about our brilliant speaker line-up, the discussions and seminars we’ll be having on the day. Ultimately, to create a bit of a fuss that might get everyone interested and lead to a few more bookings. But… the Symposium is sold out. In fact, there’s a waiting list (there’s some movement on it, so it’s worth adding your name if you’re still keen to come).
It’s very encouraging that so many of you have booked, because we’re heading out into new territory with the Theatre and Touring Symposium this year. Anyone familiar with the Symposium over the years will have noticed that we’ve now added ‘theatre’ to the title, to make it clear that this event is for anyone working in the industry – including, but not only, the vital element of touring.
We’ve also found a new venue to give us all more space to meet and talk, and we’re partnering with our colleagues in SOLT to make the event even more representative of the whole industry.
When UK Theatre and SOLT work together on a project it’s because we’re aiming to make a positive impact on the health of the theatre and performing arts industry as a whole. Not just in London, or just for those companies that happen to receive public funding. Whether commercially operated or a charity, based in the West End or the West Midlands, our interest and mission is to work with our members and the sector to keep the industry fit and resilient.
And we’ve also brought in an important change to the format, so that the discussions are at the heart of the Symposium.
To decide on the programme for the Symposium we asked UK Theatre members and SOLT members, and anyone else in the industry who wanted to have their say, what they wanted to discuss. You have come up with a range of discussion topics that hit the nail on the head of the issues our industry is facing. From developing a future workforce, to dignity at work, and an important conversation about venues and producers working together more effectively, they are all topics that the collective brains and experience in the room have the potential to make some significant progress on.
Anyone attending will still get the chance to hear from some fascinating speakers who will also address the topics, and more importantly will be able to spend more time talking through those issues. We are asking everyone to sign up to a discussion session that they’re interested in making a contribution to. We’re also asking our facilitators to make sure that the conversations are constructive, and focused on suggestions and solutions to get us from issue to opportunity.
If you’re not going to be there, conversations will continue outside of the room and beyond June 18th. We will publish a conference report, summarising the discussions and setting out the actions that we all, UK Theatre, SOLT, individuals and organisations, can take.
I hope the new format, and this ask of our delegates and the industry, reflects the real purpose and value of the Theatre and Touring Symposium. It’s going to be the biggest and widest ranging conference for theatre and performing arts this year. It’s the event where we can come together as a wide and engaged community. It’s an opportunity for us all to make a contribution, to get involved and bring our collective ideas and expertise to something we’re all committed to: keeping theatre strong and healthy for future audiences to enjoy.