What We Do

Theatre Bristol illustration Dave BainTheatre Bristol is a laboratory combining collective action to create the future of theatre with open, generous, grassroots support. We create the conditions to make great art with as wide and diverse a community as possible.

Over the next 10 years we want to see a fundamental shift in how people understand and value the role of art and artists in society, making them central to people’s lives and the places they live. To achieve this vision, we need to ensure a wider range of people value, participate in and make a living from brilliant art. This is the context and driver for all our work.

We can only do this through collaboration, conversation and cross-fertilisation. If our plans spark your interest, and tell us how you would like to be part of them.

HOW WE WORK

Theatre Bristol designs and tests new ideas that we believe have the potential to make large-scale change, creating new collaborative initiatives inside and outside the sector that build on the trust, value and knowledge generated by our expert support service.

We up theatre’s game.

We champion the independent arts sector, the artists, producers and micro organisations on whom our creative ecology depends, and give them collective agency and representation. We provide bespoke, targeted support that demonstrates our care and fierce commitment to artists and their work.

We are well renowned for our artist support, expertise, and role in creating Bristol’s reputation for world-class theatre and its strong independent theatre scene.

The relationship between artist support and the bigger picture is what makes Theatre Bristol work. We collaborate with people to challenge conventional thinking and road test progressive practice, then share what really works – as well as what is still difficult, confusing and complex.

By combining this grassroots support with collective action we help create a connected, confident and ambitious sector.

We are rooted in Bristol, helping to make it the best place for anyone to make and experience live performance, and contributing to the city’s reputation for exciting culture and counter-culture. Our outlook and ambition is international, constantly seeking to connect beyond existing audiences and relationships and ensure a healthy, varied flow of ideas and experience in and out of the city.

We are committed to increasing our reach and relevance, developing new relationships in other sectors and locations that will help drive forward the future of the arts, and generate exciting opportunities for artists in Bristol and beyond.

OUR ETHOS

Our work is guided by 10 ethos statements. They have the ring of common sense, but remain radical provocations:

  • When you share knowledge, everyone gets better.
  • Be personal. It takes time, but it makes for the best relationship.
  • It is essential to hold a space for uncertainty and for imagining alternative possibilities.
  • Be honest about subjectivity: subjectivity is valuable because it leads you to what you care most about.
  • We must cultivate a diverse pool of decision-makers so that there is more than one subjectivity at play.
  • Good ideas come from unexpected places.
  • Be alive to inspiration.
  • The artists own the work.
  • Art makes the world a better place.
  • Be committed to the long term – on behalf of ourselves and those we work with.

As an organisation Theatre Bristol thinks like an artist and works like a producer, inhabiting the space between the radical fringe and the wider world, co-designing, developing and translating new ideas into sustainable practice.  We encourage the messiness and risk that real innovation requires – as Bill Sharpe (International Futures Forum) says, ‘configuring the chaotic abundance of meaning’.