As with science and its former relationship with quantum theory, the arts knows that diversity is there and is a fundamental part of the way the world works, however most of us are locked into perceiving things akin to Newton’s traditional laws of physics, though we know that this is not the full picture.
So how do we unlock a more realistic perspective in our work? The creative case conference threw up some relevant points.
There was a challenge that larger arts organisations needed to take the lead and more responsibility in collaborating with smaller companies where diversity is nurtured. This, for instance means going beyond just consulting with disability companies on access, but actually engaging in genuine artistic collaborative work.
My fellow respondent Fiona Gasper, Executive Director, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, made the valuable point that building based venues are under great pressure from Arts Council to balance their books. What is needed therefore are completely new touring and business models that can support venues to host more diverse, financially riskier work.
This development might encourage, for example, our national flag-ship theatre, where shamefully there has been less than a handful of women writers whose work has been produced on its main stage. When this did happen recently in ‘Welcome to Thebes’, it brought strong black male and female actors to the forefront. Now in 2011, with over 30 years of disability theory, art and theatre practise behind us, we hungrily await the over-due materialisation on the same stage, of the disability equivalent of Elmina’s kitchen’…