If you’ve been following me on Twitter you’ll know that I was woken up by a text from my boss to say we were not successful in our bid to be one of the Arts Council’s National Portfolio Organisations. The company had been regularly funded by ACE since 2008, and now has a year to get its finances in order before they whip it all away again. I’m not going to talk about that here though. It’s not really my place to. I’m also not going to give a big rundown of the ‘winners and losers’ in today’s announcements, because you can see all that information on The Guardian site, including their FRANKLY WONDERFUL liveblog, which has been as indispensable as Twitter today.
I’m going to be all gooey and talk personal stuff, because I FUCKING LOVE THE THEATRE THAT COMES OUT OF THIS COUNTRY and I’m still naive enough to want to contribute to it with the rest of my life. As you know, I came back to uni for an Arts Management degree in 2009 after doing admin for LiveNation Theatres in Manchester. Last year I completely fell in love with learning about stuff again, and my good marks told me that a career in academia wouldn’t be out of the question. I got all exciteable about my new life path and started collecting postgrad prospectuses and dreaming about the open fire I’d have in my Oxbridge office. I planned a big old-fashioned ‘thinky’ dissertation about the psychological effects of immersive theatre and imagined myself pointing at PowerPoint slides. I helped a couple of other students with some stuff and got all emotional at the thought of teaching people who want to be taught.
I’m not going to pretend, just for effect, that today’s funding news is solely responsible for my changing ideas about my future, because a whole load of stuff has happened recently that’s made me re-evaluate my priorities in life, but we’ve heard from some amazing, inspirational people today. I read Pilot Theatre’s Marcus Romer call for collaboration and mutual support within the industry before I’d had my breakfast. I read tweets and blogs from Unlimited and Fierce and Birmingham MAC who shared their good news, as well as announcements from Third Angel and Greenroom who have lost funding. I was hugely chuffed to hear that Slung Low, Coney and DreamThinkSpeak have been added to the portfolio for the first time (not to mention amazed that Slung Low weren’t already an RFO). I started to think about the apparent shift towards organisations who are pushing the envelope, creating new forms and challenging preconceptions of what theatre is. If I became an academic, these are the people I would study, dissect, write about and swear about in the pub. (Whatever happens in the future, there will undoubtedly be swearing to be done in pubs.) But today has confirmed something in my mind, and that is that I don’t just want to think about these organisations, I want to be a part of them. I want to graduate next summer, just as this new funding scheme begins in earnest, and I want to help talented people push great big fat fucking envelopes.