Tag Archives: Albany

Five Steps to a Fairer Deal: The Albany’s commitment to artists

by CEO & Artistic Director Gavin Barlow

Independent artists often talk publicly about the inequities of touring in the UK, the unfair pay, the reluctance of venues to take risks, the lack of communication. It seems that venues rarely respond or contribute to the debate. Where they do make statements, artists often detect ‘a disparity between what is said and what is done’, as artist Scottee comments in a recent blog.

Venues and artists should be on the same side on this one but it obviously doesn’t feel that way. I’m tempted to point out the system is broken and venues (some of us at least) are trying to make the best of it. I wanted to explain what we do at the Albany to try and make it work. I probably will another time, but it just feels like self-justification right now.

Instead, I’ve tried to think about what we might do better as a venue. Even if the difference it makes is marginal, it feels better to take practical steps than issue another ‘manifesto’ of broad aims. So here goes, five new commitments we can make:

1. Transparency – we’ve recently published a new Artistic Policy at the Albany which aims to explain where we’re coming from and to make it easier for artists to connect with us. We’re inviting comments and we will respond, changing and adapting it as we go along. However, it often comes down to money and the decisions you choose to take, so perhaps we could go further? Funded venues, as charities, are required to publish their annual accounts, but they don’t usually publish an explanation of the spending decisions they make. We’ll give that a go and blog about how our business model works and the how and why of making decisions about where the money goes (though give me a few weeks on this one).

2. Dialogue – most programmers I’m sure feel overwhelmed by the volume of requests they get, and struggle to reply. As Scottee says: ‘a usual response from a venue you are trying to work with is… nothing’. We can surely aim to do better and reply to every direct enquiry we receive, providing clarity at least?*

3. Do less, pay more – like most funded organisations, we feel the pressure to continually do more for less. Artist fees inevitably get squeezed. It seems like ‘standard’ fees haven’t changed much since I was last regularly touring work back in the early 2000s. We can make a conscious decision to reverse this, focus on working with artists more closely and paying them more realistically. Of course, this means accepting that we will probably have to work with fewer artists overall, but that feels like a risk worth taking?

4. Always pay fees – or at least always offer a guaranteed amount if there’s a split of box office receipts. This might not sound so radical but I suspect most venues, certainly in London, don’t actually do this. Of course, the amounts we can offer will probably still require artists to get additional funding in many cases. But we can take account of the circumstances of each artist and the funding they can access, or help them get some. It’s a small step but acknowledges that when we’re ‘sharing the risk’ with an artist, venues are in a better position to withstand any losses.

5. Share the power – now this is a big one. We’ve tried in many ways, but it feels increasingly like it’s time to make a big shift in how we programme, ensuring artists have a much greater voice in the decisions that are made. We’ll commit to making a change. We don’t know quite what but we’ve got some ideas, and we’d like to make that decision collaboratively. So this is an open invitation for any artists who have worked with us to join us for a conversation**.

I hope artists will tell us what they think of our efforts, but it would be good to also stimulate debate within venues. What else should we be doing? How can we work together? To quote Scottee again (from another time), all of us… ‘Must. Try. Harder’.

* You can contact us at programming@thealbany.org.uk and check the programming section of the website. If you’ve contacted us recently and haven’t had a reply – sorry, we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

**We’ll be setting up some dates soon. If you’re interested, please contact linda.bloomfield@thealbany.org.uk

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Dead and Breathing Q&A: Creative Team

Q&A with Sarah Booth; Dead and Breathing 

On 20 February–3 March


  • The Albany
  • Tuesday 20 February – Saturday 3 March, 7.30pm
  • Suitable for : 13+
  • BSL Interpreted performance: Thursday 1 March
  • TICKETS:£14
  • Book Here


It’s hilarious and touching in equal measure, with some incredible performances and looks bloody lovely if I don’t say so myself.  

What is your role in Dead and Breathing?


What’s been the best thing about working on this production?

Working with a wonderful creative team, and being at the Unity and Albany which are both beautiful venues.

What’s been the biggest challenge of working on this production?

Finding an aesthetic for Carolyn’s (main character in the play) taste which reads to an audience. We had a lot of really interesting discussions on black/white and British/American tastes. Painting a parquet floor in a small dock was also pretty challenging!

What 3 words would you use to describe the production?

“Foul mouthed ethics.”


Why should audiences should come and see it? 

Because it’s hilarious and touching in equal measure, with some incredible performances and looks bloody lovely if I don’t say so myself.

The Albany 20 February–3 March, 7.30pm. Suitable for : 13+ 

BSL Interpreted perfomance: 1 MarchTICKETS:£14.  Book Here

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CW Blog Reimagining the Classics: Tom Thumb


Tom Thumb Facebook Event PictureTom Thumb is the classic story of a small boy with a big personality and imagination and creativity big enough to take on any danger of the world.  A fun rendition of this tale is coming to Canada Water Theatre in a one-man-show format this week. Presented by Lyngo Theatre, Cbeebies Patrick Lynch answered some questions about the show, providing insights on acting thumb-sized, honouring a traditional plot, and being solo on stage. Continue reading

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Music legend Charles Hayward brings sound is sound is sound to the Albany

We hear from Charles Hayward on sound is sound is sound, a showcase of unique musical acts from the South London area, followed by afternoon workshops, sound installations and interventions in and around the Albany. The event will be held on Saturday 24 October at 7.30pm. Click here for details and booking information. 

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There has been a long term South East London music underground that has fed into the mainstream since the days of Mark P’s fanzine Sniffin’ Glue, ATV and This Heat. There is also a committed audience for this, feeding back into the music. Lewisham Arthouse presents SOUND IS SOUND IS SOUND with the intention of building this audience and encouraging Active Listening, which is crucial.

On the night there will be attitudes and sound worlds stretching from the schismatic rock of the Balloons through to the site specific drone meditations of Aine O’Dwyer. Albert Newton will also be playing, the members of Albert Newton are Pat Thomas, John Edwards and me. John and Pat are more from the European improvised music scene, but I am basically about grooves, cubist and fractured, but still groove, so when those two worlds collide it opens up a whole new thing, half Albert, half Newton. We’ve had people hanging off the walls at gigs, so we always start itching to play about now.

The theatre is an intriguing shape, and we plan to use it extensively, moving focus across the space and giving ears a sonic sauna, from acoustic to full on electric. New project Cold As Ice will be making interventions throughout the evening.

In the afternoon we’ve got John Lunn, heavyweight soundtrack composer, in conversation with Frank Byng, who recently scored Channel 4’s The Mill and runs the Slowfoot label. The idea is to share how to work in the media; hopefully people working on their own thing will learn a lot from this and get useful information about commissions, proposals and endless reworking of material towards a finished soundtrack. I’ll be leading a workshop called The Bell Agency, it uses fire alarm bells with no more than 10 players, and there is no need to be able to play. The Bell Agency is about constant change as events unfold, building a musical shape over time, between all of us. Harmergeddon are putting together an installation in the studio, a sort of anti-chill-out room, like a fun fair side show.

After the live performance we’ve got DJ BPM, who plays Grime all over the world on tour with players like Newham Generals and has a regular radio show on Resonance FM. There will also be a techno-edge set from Vince, a young geezer with big ears.

Hope you can make it to SOUND IS SOUND IS SOUND. Active Listening!

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