I’ve attempted to write this reflection several times over the last week, knowing that what I wanted to write about would bring up some uncomfortable if not painful emotions that are still raw, whilst equally bearing in mind that rejection and uncertainty are not an unusual part of our industry, particularly for those without core funding and so to take a whole newsletter to write about it feels like overkill.
But yet, for us, because of how our business model works and the type of activity we deliver, this rejection means that the future of Theatre Bristol is in question. It feels important to not keep some of the questions and emotions we are experiencing as a team and board private, to share that we are now in a place of holding fragility and vulnerability internally whilst wanting to deliver the best possible programme that truly supports, ignites and is responsive to the needs of artists and all the freelance creative workforce in Bristol, the South West (and further afield). And that we would like to do this for as long as we can.
What we know from our application feedback is that leveling up has played a big part in Arts Council England’s decision and that our application, our impact and our ideas for the future were strong and as valued as we hoped.
As a team and board we are not afraid of asking those difficult questions around how we might survive now that around 47% of our projected income for 2023/24 has gone but individually, it’s hard. It’s hard not to take it personally or feel unwanted but the support and stories of how this compassionate, fiery organisation has supported people for 16 years has kept us going.
And of course, out of all this comes new possibilities, it opens up new ideas, new radical ways of working, of how we engage with you, our community, and how we fundamentally operate within this industry and economic climate when so much of what we want to offer has to, by its very nature be free at the point of access.
Whilst we don’t have all the answers, what I can promise is that we will explore every avenue, we will bring artists and freelancers into those conversations, we will seek support and ask for help from our peers and we will continue to offer as much as our programme as we can through all of this.
As a sector, especially those with funding secured, we must not look inwards, but outwards and to the side and take care of each other, there are tough months and years ahead but only together can we continue to make stories that might change the world. Which is why we’re all still here right?
Emily Williams – November 2022 (as part of newsletter on 17th Nov)
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