A theatre meeting! Oh boy! [Feb. 7, 2012]

Peter J. (theatreinlondon.ca admin)

I kept some rough notes; please comment with additions or corrections as necessary.


– Kathy Navackas (executive producer, London Fringe Festival)

– Sean Quigley (new executive director, Emerging Leaders; creator of Fanshawe College Theatre Arts program)

– meeting to discuss things to do together as a community

– there are new players and different kinds of work being produced, but all have the same issues

– Emerging Leaders – hoping to engage theatre community with 25–40-year-old membership, and vice versa

– EL participates in a variety of things such as social activism and introduces younger members to opportunities like boards of directors; lacks theatre community (and other arts) involvement

– how to work together?

– the idea of a London theatre alliance was floated several years ago

– new and existing endeavours – LDT Online (shoots promo videos during rehearsal for timely exposure); Theatre in London manifesto

– many new, shiny things, but they start and end; no legacy, no moving community forward

– interest in keeping talent in London

– city cultural plan – where was the arts community? No one in the meeting had been approached.

– city hall tends to ignore theatre, with the exception of the Grand

– no/few community-building activities, e.g. dramaturgy, new play development, etc.

– media coverage is lacking – but Free Press, radio, TV aren't there to sell our tickets

– from surveys, majority of theatre audience doesn't follow local media – #1 motivator is word of mouth, one-to-one contact

– ideas to engage/grow audience – "disloyalty card"? – get all holes punched, win a prize?

– social media – extension of word of mouth – you scratch my back (retweet me/talk about my show) and I'll scratch yours

– Twitter is the place to be – #ldnthtr hashtag

– need to engage people outside the theatre community – how?

– companies have been around 15 years, still "regular people" have never heard of them

– information clearinghouses (TiL, LDTO, Beat) consolidate and share load

– need a monthly paper like Variety? Pick it up anywhere, but also need to deliver it to those not specifically looking for it

– form a federated group?

– days where local theatre was the Palace and London Little Theatre are gone – lots of companies, but also lots of other events

– competing with JLC

– competing with diminishing dollar – one event at JLC is entire entertainment budget

– successes seen marketing to specific groups (e.g. Iglesia Theatre, Richmond and Tower)

– theatre attracts those who are seeking an authentic experience

– it's the theatre community that keeps me doing theatre, and keeps me in London

– communication within the community is good

– can broadcast events via the Palace newsletter (3.5x audience as ~2 years ago)

– Palace willing to exchange ads

– share tight resources

– collaboration has grown, community needs a purpose to come together

– idea: half-seasons, meet monthly or quarterly to plan calendar for season

– overlapping runs – can be terrifying for new vs. established

– organize a fundraiser for theatre community?

– grants available for an alliance that wouldn't be to individual companies/shows?

– easy level of entry: list your show on TiL

– what is the project for the group?

– New Yorker-like schedule kept on fridge – model for London theatre, distribute monthly

– put it in hotel rooms! restaurant placemats!

– talk of organizing, meeting, projects – active producers aren't looking for more to do!

– how to let people participate easily when busy?

– company registry with contacts

– email calendar to all members

– similar meeting 11 years ago at the Grand

– need to come away with one idea for it to work

– get one thing started, see if it works

– Fringe can support and contribute to efforts; can provide infrastructure

– relationships with/sponsors for tangibles, e.g. printing (free?)

– community keeps focus on shows, but adds collectives – rally and support

– go big – 2000-3000 copies of calendar to disseminate

– theatre alliance showcase/party – once a year, raises funds for monthly calendar and other projects

– need something concrete

– Palace can host 500-600

– are all players in the room? need more, include all who are interested

– can't let things slide – deadlines to submit info for calendar

– creating a legacy for future

– possible grant to pay someone to coordinate efforts?

– all need some skin in the game – unless people are involved, it dies

– cowork/hotdesk space available on King between Richmond and Clarence, also 3000 sq. ft. rehearsal space?

– art is made in a place or sold in a place – how does London build a reputation for being where art is made?

– blue ocean strategy – own a space (Cirque du Soleil – between circus and Broadway)

– own independent theatre?

– going into print means marketing, branding, aesthetic from start

– branding -> committee to run organization – take ownership

– familiarity is key

– consistent, but not boring

– graphic designer who'd work in kind?

– impossible to do branding with too many cooks – small committee + member vote?

– get the word out to non-theatre people

– purely electronic approach? coordinated to go to non-theatre people

– too much lingo? don't use "artsy" terms

– anecdote: sent offer for preview tickets to large local company, got many responses asking what a preview is?

– aggregate all involved – membership

– then create calendar from member listings (print + downloadable as PDF)

– get to creating a physical thing ASAP

– what is the reach of independent self-producing theatre?

– Robin Armistead (sp?) doing cultural map of city – theatre community hasn't been consulted, but could submit a report on economic value – also of interest to corporate sponsors

– Feb. 28 – public meeting on city cultural plan – theatre people should attend

– summing up

– willingness to form a London theatre alliance? YES

– another meeting to map it out? YES

– name, research, goals – *simple* mandate

– meeting invitation will be sent to all

– comments, suggestions re this meeting and next to Kathy

– next Social Media for the Arts (SMARTS) unconference on March 3

Peter J. (theatreinlondon.ca admin)

The London Fringe (www.londonfringe.ca) and Emerging Leaders (www.emergingleaders.ca) want to explore some ideas with you and we hope that you may want to contribute some ideas or thoughts with others. Or, simply come out, listen in, and take it from there. The idea is to discuss where we are as a ‘theatre community’, where we think we should be, and perhaps how we can get ‘there’, wherever ‘there’ is.

When: Tuesday, February 7 at 5:30pm

Where: Kowork London, 352 Talbot Street (between York and King Sts.)

RSVP: producer@londonfringe.ca Just so that we have an idea of who is coming.

Please, please: share this information with other people you know in the self-producing, independent theatre community, okay? We don’t want to miss anyone.


Kathy Navackas, Executive Producer

London Fringe June 6-17, 2012


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