As falling budgets make it ever-harder to programme risk-taking work, how can venues engage with new LGBT+ audiences? Our Executive Director, Kaya Stanley-Money shares some advice with Arts Professional.
In 2017, Camden People’s Theatre presented the Come as you are festival of trans, non-binary and gender-queer work. It attracted an appreciative LGBT+ audience and taught us a lot about working with, and for, that community.
Subsequently, we designed a touring version with the strategic aim of supporting venues to improve the LGBT+ diversity of both their programming and audiences. We partnered with Theatre Royal Wakefield, Derby Theatre, Exeter Phoenix, Metal and The Key Theatre in Peterborough and Lighthouse Poole, all venues located in areas with higher-than-average LGBT+ populations and low arts provision for that particular audience.
Each festival took place over two to three days and featured three strands of activity, designed for different audiences. The first focussed on making venues open and welcoming to their LGBT+ community. We delivered gender positivity training to venue staff (delivered by Milk Presents), introduced gender-neutral toilets, and using panel discussions placed each venue at the heart of the conversation about local LGBT+ issues.
The second strand sought to build relationships between LGBT+ artists and venues. The festival’s lead artists Milk Presents delivered a free devising gender workshop, and via an open call, we programmed a scratch night featuring three local artists. (Commissions were made available to venues keen to support these artists further.)
And the final strand was audiences. The festival had to speak to the venue’s general audience as well as our target demographic, and so included high-quality performances from contemporary theatre-makers. This was backed up with a portfolio of touring shows for this year which we distributed to encourage repeat LGBT+ programming.
Here are some lessons that we learnt from the tour…. Click here to continue reading the full article.