Artist development opportunities

Artist development opportunities

“Terrific evening at #CPTSprint. Such a crucial part of the theatre ecology. Packed out too. Developing audiences & artists, both important” – Lyn Gardner, The Guardian, on Twitter, March 2015

Artist support is central to everything we do at CPT. We’re not a theatre that does a bit of artist support on the side. It’s our priority, and our public programme of work springs from it.

Click here to see some of the artists and projects whose development we’ve recently supported.

Uncanny Valley by Superbolt Theatre, developed at CPT
Uncanny Valley by Superbolt Theatre, developed at CPT

By artist support – aka artist development – we mean supporting (usually) early-career artists to make innovative work, helping them establish themselves artistically and structurally, offering them advice, programming their work creatively and finding them an audience – and (not least) giving them a community to be part of and a place to call home. The types of development support we offer include:

  • structured schemes in which to develop new work to full production, e.g. Starting Blocks, Home Run, our Associate Artist scheme, Passing the Baton
  • seed commission funds, including several tailored to BAME artists
  • rehearsal space
  • showcase opportunities – at CPT, or those we broker elsewhere
  • ‘outside eye’ and/or dramaturgical support
  • professional or industry training, and/or informal advice
  • fundraising support
  • discount or free tickets to CPT shows
  • opportunities to become involved in the life of our theatre – by e.g. curating events, joining our scouting pool
  • via the CPT-led STAMP network, we also make comprehensive data available to artists on support opportunities elsewhere; lobby on their behalf with e.g. GLA, Arts Council; and host six events annually  building bridges between artists, producers and venues

We provide these types of support in various ways. For example, Starting Blocks is our flagship annual artist development / peer network scheme, selected via open call for submissions. Its first phase is a ten-week programme running from Jan-March annually, culminating in work-in-progress performances as part of our Sprint festival. We then contribute to the further development of Starting Blocks projects, where appropriate, to full production level – and build our programme around them. In recent years, Rachel Mars’ The Way You Tell Them, Louise Orwin’s Pretty Ugly and Emma Frankland and Keir Cooper’s Don Quijote have emerged from Starting Blocks to enjoy successful three-week runs as the headline acts in major CPT festivals.

Gym Party by Made in China, developed at CPT as part of the Spring Festivals Co-Commission 2013
Gym Party by Made in China, developed at CPT as part of the Spring Festivals Co-Commission 2013

We also co-run the annual Spring Festivals Co-Commission, with our partners the Pulse (Ipswich), Mayfest (Bristol) and Watch Out (Cambridge) festivals. In 2013, we piloted this initiative by commissioning Made In China to make their hit show Gym Party. In 2014, the selected show was My Son & Heir by Search Party; in 2015 (when the Latitude Festival joined up as co-commissioner), it was Action Hero’s Wrecking Ball. In 2016, two CPT associate artists (Sh!t Theatre and Jamal Harewood) received the commission for DollyWould and Word respectively. Selected show(s) receives a substantial commission and the opportunity to develop and present work from March through June across the five festivals.

In spring 2016, CPT collaborated with our friends at Battersea Arts Centre to programme a one-day symposium on artist support UK-wide, called ‘All Tomorrow’s Theatre’. Also in 2016, CPT led on the creation of STAMP, a new London network of venues and organisations supporting artists in the creation of new work. This network now meets regularly and liaises with artists to improve the range of artist support we make available.

In summer 2016, we launched our new Home Run scheme, in partnership with the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, by which we work closely with artists to bridge the difficult gap between work-in-progress / scratch performance and full production. The recipient of the first Home Run commission was Milk Presents, with their new project Bullish, in which mythology meets gender negotiation. The second Home Run commission is Racheal Ofori and Fuel’s So Many Reasons, which premieres as part of our ‘Calm Down, Dear’ festival in January 2018. We have recently been funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation to support a new raft of Home Run commissions targeted at artists of colour – the announcement of its first recipient will be made in January 2018.

Much of the artist support work we do at CPT is offered on an ad hoc basis, in response to artists’ needs and requests. If you are interested in our offer, invite us to see your work, and/or send us info about who you are and what you do. We’ll come and see your show if we can. And, when his schedule allows, our AD Brian is happy to meet for a cup of tea and chat.  In the meantime, keep an eye on this page for artist development opportunities, or contact us on [email protected] to let us know what you’re up to and how we may be able to help.

In autumn 2014, Camden People’s Theatre – funded by Arts Council England – commissioned Dr Hannah Nicklin to undertake new research into artist development activity at CPT and beyond. Click here to read Dr Nicklin’s report: “Camden People’s Theatre and Artist Development – How are we doing? Can we do better? A preliminary piece of research conducted over 10 days by Dr Hannah Nicklin.”