The day of celebration kicked off with a discussion between panel members Gemma Paintin (Action Hero), Anna Himali Howard (Breach), Tim Crouch and Niki McCretton (Stuff and Nonsense and The Lyric Theatre, Bridport) to share their own experiences of best practice and how they have overcome challenges they have faced as artists working in the South West. You can listen to a podcast of the panel discussion here. The audience were then invited to join breakout groups addressing the challenges identified by the panel. Topics for discussion were: Staying Alive: strategies for artists to stay healthy led by Gemma Paintin, Re-shaping and Resisting Structures in Theatre, led by Niki McCretton, Re-Inventing and Returning led by Tim Crouch, and Anti-Branding led by Anna Himali Howard. Photos of discussion notes can be viewed here.
Sarah Peterkin, Director of Rural Touring and Co-Director of Theatre at Take Art, and Mark Helyar, Co-Director of Theatre at Take Art, joined Russ Tunney of Pound Arts to lead a Rural Touring discussion during the afternoon. Other topics of discussion included: The realities of touring with Niki McCretton, Doing It Yourself led by David Lockwood (The Bikeshed), The benefits of working in a cultural ‘cold spot’ led by Sarah Blower (Strike A Light), Artist development led by Emma Bettridge (Bristol Old Vic and KK/MS) and Taking it outdoors, led by Activate Performing Arts.
Phil Hindson, Arts Council England, led one to one Grants for the Arts surgery sessions throughout the afternoon.
Celebrating theatre makers from across the south west, Theatre Fest West runs from 18 March to 2 April with events taking place across Wiltshire, at Salisbury Playhouse, Salisbury Arts Centre, The Pound arts centre, Wiltshire Music Centre and Trowbridge Arts. Follow the festival on Twitter: #theatrefestwest
For a more detailed report of the days event, click here.