Tag Archives: arts

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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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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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

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The days have grown shorter and a chill is in the air, but we are very excited this December. Our biggest season ever is soon finishing off with a bang and to get you pumped up, our Marketing Assistant, Allison Gold, lets us know what she is most looking forward to before the Christmas holiday.

This Autumn season has been huge, jam-packed with a rich assortment of art. Some highlights were our first BOLD Festival celebrating arts and older people, the biannual festival of South African culture Afrovibesand who could possibly forget that we were the national home of Fun Palaces, celebrating Joan Littlewood’s centenary as well as arts and sciences? With our friends, we even created our very own Deptford Fun Palaces for all to enjoy on Sunday 5 October. It has really been a whirlwind, but it’s not over just yet. We’ve still got one more month to ring in a New Year properly. Here are three brilliant events yet to come this month:

1) We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Of course, most of the Albs is absolutely buzzing about our upcoming family Christmas show, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Little Angel Theatre’s take on the classic Michael Rosen book is just too cute to resist. The charming puppets just leap off the page in search of a bear. If you stick around after the show, you just might be able to play a little dress-up with our Bear Hunt Corner, including a grumpy bear costume!

Wednesday 10 December – Tuesday 6 January 2015. For more information and to book tickets, click here.

 

2) Snowflakes & Snowballs & the Deptford Bear Hunt

Another seasonal event to warm your toes is Deptford Lounge’s very own winter wonderland Snowflakes & Snowballs, a free day of festive family fun. As it’s rather nippy outside, head on inside for a warmth of the Lounge where there will be craft stalls, performances, activities and even some Christmas film screenings. What better way to celebrate this time of year? And if your little ones are a bit more energetic, they can join the Deptford Bear Hunt – pick up a list of clues and spot the bears around Deptford for a chance to win a Family Ticket to We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

Snowflakes & Snowballs is Saturday 13 December, 10am – 4pm at Deptford Lounge. No booking required. For more information, click here.

The Deptford Bear Hunt is happening the week of Saturday 6 to Saturday 13 December. Pick up a form with clues at the reception of the Albany or Deptford Lounge.

 

3) Chill Pill: Christmas Special

To end the year off just right, we had to include a dose of our favourite spoken word collective, Chill Pill. Come chill out for a Christmassy night of poetry and a dash of music with four-piece South East London band United Vibrations. Even I would come out of my winter hibernation for this.

Thursday 18 December, 8pm (doors). For more information and to book tickets, click here.

 

I hope to see all your smiling faces before the New Year at the Albany!

Allison Gold, Marketing Assistant, The Albany

 

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