We are piloting a new scheme in which five Connect Artists work alongside us for seven months.
This was an idea borne during the pandemic through focus groups and conversations with freelancers. The Connect Artists will be developing their craft, making connections, and kick-starting conversations. There aren’t any prescribed outcomes, but they will be challenging and honing our thinking specifically around establishing pathways for new directors and theatre makers that challenge traditional structures.
Joining the team as Connect Artists are Alistair Wilkinson, Caroline Wilkes, Donna Briscoe-Greene, Hannah Treadaway and Omar Khan. Find out more about each of them below.
The idea for RTYDS Connect Artists developed following a number of conversations and interactions with small groups of freelance artists throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, but was also informed by connections with Freelance Task Force, Freelancers Make Theatre Work, Scene Change and Class and Coronavirus. Freelancers with a previous connection to RTYDS were invited to join focus groups to discuss how we as an organisation could specifically champion and support freelance artists who were just stepping into the industry and who don’t currently see themselves represented as directors or theatre makers.
It was clear that because their knowledge, skills, creativity and lived experience, freelance artists should sit at the heart of the change we are trying to make.
Initially our plan was to appoint two Artistic Associates, but through the open recruitment process which gave us the chance to hear from over 65 artists and meet nine, we realised we hadn’t created the right context to respond to what they needed and what they could offer.
We wanted to pilot a scheme that was not prescriptive and focused largely on what could sustain and energise them as artists. A small proportion of this time will be spent contributing to our work – this might be by attending a focus group, leading a workshop, taking part in a recruitment process or helping us amplify the opportunities we offer to artists.
The rest is to be used in whatever way serves their development or the development artists they expressed a commitment to supporting. They might use these days as a chance to read, reflect, think, write, attend workshops, run discussion groups or advice sessions.
The five Connect Artists roles will evolve over their seven months with us. We are asking them to keep a short journal so we have an informal record of the seven months that will inform our learning about this pilot programme.