With money seems to come more flexibility or the green light to take plans and experiments forward. Does a red light stop the intention dead? English Touring Opera Fellow of the ADA 3.0 shares this blog about the next steps for their strategic journey.
I was so close to getting my experiment up and running. I had written a proposal, did market research, spoken to our partner venues and other arts organisations and everyone was excited about my audience development scheme. I was set to press ‘go’ but with one short email, my dreams of getting this revolutionary ticket scheme dissolves into nothing. Senior Management loved the idea but there was no funding so I had to pump the breaks, do a U turn and return the shiny sports car to the show room…
As much as we, in the arts, try to not to talk about the ‘M’ word, we can’t avoid it. It is, unfortunately, at the heart of everything we do. As I sat at my desk, very deflated with the knowledge that my experiment had been halted because there wasn’t enough money, I wondered how many great ideas had never seen the light of day because of funding. Even the little one man show in the basement of a pub in the middle of nowhere at least needs petrol money for his sins. It makes me really sad to think about how much art and creativity we have missed out on because people don’t have the funds to bring their ideas to fruition.
In this current climate, it is harder than ever to justify why we need money to the arts. How do you convince someone who has never been to the opera why they should spend millions of pounds on it, when they are worried about the implications of Brexit? You may argue that commercial shows in the West End don’t need public funding but I would remind you that they have a lot of private investment and the ticket prices are sky high.
How do we create beauty when we are restricted by our means? We tried using unpaid interns but that doesn’t fix the problem and is highly unethical and elitist (as only those that receive support from their wealthy parents can afford to do these roles). We all work extra hours without pay but again that doesn’t fix the problem. Even if there is a pot of money, if the powers that be aren’t convinced by your idea or the money has been spent elsewhere, how do you get your idea off of the ground?
I ruminated (sulked) on this for a while. After lots of cups of tea and a couple of bourbon biscuits I noticed that I was the guest of honour at my own pity party so I rammed a couple more biscuits in my mouth and started to think about ways I can make this experiment work. With the kindness, patience and wisdom of my mentor I decided to scale back my idea and will ask the Development team to apply for funding.
I may graduate from the Audience Diversity Academy having not finished (or even properly started) my experiment but I will end this experience knowing that my idea will happen, no matter the cost.