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STOP PRESS – TWP HIT BY ARTS COUNCIL CUTS!

We found out on 30 March that we will not be receiving funding from the Arts Council from 2012 onwards. We are very sad about this news and we believe that its important to hear some of your thoughts about how you have been involved with TWP over the years and about its impact on you whether you’re a writer or any other theatre practitioner. We would also like to hear about how you think theatre writing and writers should be supported in the East Midlands in the future. What do you need? What do you want to see happen? If TWP goes – what should happen next? This isn’t a campaign to save TWP but it is an appeal to you to be vocal about what kind of support you need and why new work is important to you as its creators and its audience.

Please leave your comments here. We really value your ideas, stories and thoughts. If yo a theatre practitioner of any kind – writer, director, actor, educator etc. We would also recommend that you join a new collective which has just been established called EMTAC (East Midlands Theatre Artists Collective). EMTAC will provide a voice for theatre artists in the light of these cuts so please do find the time to engage with the discussion at  http://emtac.wordpress.com and to make you voice heard. 

Kate Chapman
Theatre Writing Partnership
Chief Executive and Artistic Director

0115 9474361


17 Comments

  1. emhussain
    Posted March 31, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    I am currently being dramaturged by TWP for a play that I am writing. I am impressed by the level of expertise and sensitivity afforded to me as a writer, the possibility of providing workshops, and a potential showcase performance of my work. This is invaluable, attentive, pragmatic, writer-centered support from beginning to end and something that I haven’t really come across elsewhere in the region.
    What do I want to see happen? TWP funded from 2012 onwards – if truth be told.

  2. Posted April 1, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    My twp

    I simply wouldn’t be a playwright without TWP. I’m not dramatically overstating. I’m being completely honest. Until I saw a poster call for new plays stuck up by TWP I had never considered writing a stageplay. I was in the Nottingham Playhouse interviewing someone for a video I was making. As a Filmmaker and Writer I had only ever written screenplays up until this point. Something about the poster made me go “I’m going to write something for this”. Since that time I’ve been supported by TWP as a writer new to the stage. The fact that they were based at the Nottingham Playhouse but were not the Nottingham Playhouse was important and continues to be important. TWP acts as advocate for the theatre writer. Not for a particular building or for the traditions of the theatrical space but for the East Midlands writer. This is not the same as Writing:East Midlands. Expertise, knowledge and understanding, relationships with the theatres in the region are all potentially going to be thrown away. And what replaces it? A umbrella organisation for all writers and all types of writing? And these miraculous individuals will go out and introduce writers and their work nationally and internationally as TWP have done? They will programme festivals as TWP have done? They will run young theatre writers schemes as TWP have done? I simply don’t buy it. TWP existed because of the need. Of course Writers existed before and of course writers will emerge still but when Iraq is invaded with no plan beyond that; when the NHS is being chopped up with no plan beyond that; when the Film Council is axed with no plan beyond that; When Arts Organisations all over the country are strategically axed with no-one outside those chopping offices having seen the strategy that is frightening. One response to the Cuts Culture is “It’s not economic its ideological.” Ideology is not inherently bad I would argue but to axe and have no plan beyond that is simply nonsensical. “Ah well things will sort themselves out” seems to be an unspoken attitude, well there are Writers, young or not so young who will now find it more difficult to enter Nottingham Playhouse; Writers who will find it more difficult to progress their career when (if?) the theatres battling their own cuts play safe. If the theatre buildings make a real commitment to developing their relationships with new writing, and lets be honest some of the regional buildings have better reputations that others in that regard, and that means thinking beyond their own building. And there in lies the problem. I have no confidence that despite any will that might exist, there is the capacity to do this. Not in any one theatre building, not if the one building also has to deal with novelists and poets and screenwriters and short story prose. I simply don’t believe it. I think there are times when one surrenders in the hope that “they must know what they are doing”. This isn’t one of those moments. I think there are moments that we should embrace and now is one of those moments. TWP might cease to exist after 2012; this is no time to wait and see. They don’t have a plan, so let us!

  3. Giles Croft
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Just to say how sorry we are at Nottingham Playhouse to hear your news. Since the founding of TWP we have had a good and productive realationship with the organisation and it has been instrumental in the developing of many partnerships and projects. There is no question that the currrent good health of the regions theatre writing community is due in large part to TWP. We look forward to continuing the working with you over the next 12 months and seeing what possibilities exist beyond that time.

  4. Posted April 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely shocked by the news and the short-sighted attitude of the funders. I have enjoyed great support from TWP and have made tremendous progress as a writer since they became invoved – but even if I hadn’t benefitted directly I would have had to take my hat off to the fantastic level of support and advice that TWP make available to a wide range of individuals. NO OTHER WRITING ORGANISATION IN THE REGION HAS THE INFLUENCE OR IMPACT OT TWP IN MY OPINION. We all know there need to be cuts but to withdraw funding completely from such a dynamic, dedicated, efficient and focused arts organisation is madness and unforgivable. These decisions should have been made based on evidence of impact by people in the know. This smacks of easy hits and a paper exercise done in some dark distant office block. Baffled by the incompetence and short sighted strategy. Some organisations with little track record have had significant increases while TWP has been dumped with no recognition of the significant impact that it has had on a range of writers in the region. Whoever took this particular decision should be ashamed of themselves and take a serious look at their methods of scoring bids. Ill judged, lazy, brutal, poorly researched process. Pathetic excuse for a strategic review undertaken with a spectacular disregard for creative drive if the example of TWP is anything to go by.

  5. Serenah Cole
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    I was very shocked to hear on wednesday that TWP had lost it’s ACE funding! I have to say I think Kate and Bianca do a wonderful job of supporting writers at various stages of their career. No other writer development organisation in the region has the in depth knowledge of the craft of playwriting or understanding of the theatre landscape needed to support writers who want to write for the stage rather than the page. Which is why I agree with the comment above if given the choice, I would want TWP to continue to be funded after 2012 and grow from strength to strength.

  6. Posted April 1, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    reading back my comments I just wanted to clarify my last line “They don’t have a plan, so let us.” ‘They’ refers to the money holders who think they are also the decision makers. Loathe as I am to misquote an old Tory but they think they are in office and in power. We won’t be able to do anything about the former for another four years or so but lets show them who are really in power. This doesn’t mean let’s get the decision changed, this might be one aim but a better one for me is to strive to create an alternative TWP. Let us make the decisions.

  7. Posted April 2, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Put simply, TWP is the reason I do what I do. If I hadn’t spotted a poster for submissions for the very first momentum in my uni corridor, I would never be where I am today. TWP don’t just pick up people who might never have gone anywhere near the arts, in a massive and rural hard-to-reach region. They begin trajectories. Thank you for mine, and all the friends and learning that I made and did on the way.

  8. Posted April 2, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    I’m so sorry to hear this. TWP’s Momentum programme in 2005 was the first chance I had to hear my words spoken by professional actors. The experience was what made me take playwriting seriously, and I also met some awesome friends through it. I’ve now had two Edinburgh Fringe productions and my first script published last year. It’s not paying the bills yet, but I can say “I’m a professional playwright” without feeling like a fraud. Thanks to TWP for the chance they gave me – I hope young writers will continue to have chances like that.

  9. A
    Posted April 2, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Hello,

    There are good features of my life that I can trace back to TWP’s influence. Being self-employed and running a business, a career in the arts and a particularly good set of friends.

    During the last year, hearing about decisions that will damage organisations that mean a lot to me has become common. This means that I can’t say that I was shocked, surprised, devastated or anything that strong on hearing about TWP’s Arts Council funding cut. But it also means that I have become determined.

    More determined to make sure that others don’t have to become used to disappointment and to the feeling of being failed by those motivated by a coalition of self-interest and incompetence.

    More determined to take an active role in making sure that other people like me don’t have to see their opportunities shrinking in front of them.

    I did not become an artist or a writer as a result of TWP fostering my ability to write. I became more able to map and define what matters to me and how to get the disordered contents of my head out into the real world, where they can be arranged into a strategy for something positive

    I was a younger man when I took part in TWP. My thoughts are with young people now who are in a similar place as I was then. I am certain that they have a lot to say. I am certain that a lot of it will be about anger and frustration. I hope that they have access to a mechanism to structure this anger and frustration in a way that will be beneficial for them and their peers.

  10. Marilyn Ricci
    Posted April 3, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    As others have said, this decision makes no sense at all. It is literally nonsense. What have I gained from TWP as a writer? Invaluable guidance, support, expert feedback and wonderful opportunities which are simply unavailable elsewhere: workshops with top-notch professional actors, detailed tutoring on the craft of writing for the stage, individual attention to my work, supportive group work, the list simply goes on and on.
    Jools is right, though, if the decision is made and any amount of effort won’t unmake it at present, we have to think of ‘doing it for ourselves’ as the 1970s feminists used to say, that is, get together, make plans.

  11. Sibyl
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    I’ve been working with both Theatre Writing Partnership and Writing West Midlands on the Ears Wide Open project. Both organisations have been equally professional, equally supportive in helping me as a writer. So while I’m pleased that Writing West Midlands has received further assistance from ACE, I am very sad indeed to hear that TWP will not be funded beyond next year..

  12. Posted April 4, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Losing TWP, the catalyst for development of new theatre work and writers for region, is an act of gross cultural vandalism – I’m also equally disgusted by the funding decision over at Derby LIVE. TWP provides the stimulus, the knowledge and the creative environment for playwrights to try out new ideas, to experiment without reproach. Projects which they are just embarking upon, which look far more long term than the short-sighted ‘slash and burn’ approach adopted by an increasingly opaque funding body, should be applauded not scrapped. Their loss of funding is a loss to the new writers in schools, in other creative media and in fledgling companies in Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Northampton and the rest of the region that will not have this help in the future.

    I’d like to be able to say that support like this exists elsewhere but with cuts to the regional theatres, who have falling local authority subsidies too, playwright development may fall by the wayside. University humanities departments too are become the first to the block as education institutions look to streamline after yet another poorly conceived government notion.

    It is TWP’s pedagogical work that will be its legacy through those they have mentored spreading this expertise through their practise but why should this not merit an award of funding to continue this?

    When the nation’s physical health is debated (the NHS bill is in Parliament today) do we just ride roughshod over our cultural wellbeing? Arts, sport and media – all presided over by the ‘honourable’ Jeremy Hunt – are having their funding dismantled and we are creating a society with narrower minds and wider waistlines. Learning in the arts unlocks the imagination and, at a time when this imagination is needed more than ever, it faces its greatest loss of funding since the 1980s. What the country needs is more people who look beyond the day-to-day, who ask ‘what if…?’ and ‘why?”, who question rather than accept without fear of ridicule and censure. All these are core tenets of arts education and what TWP has championed since its inception.

    The writers of the East Midlands and the theatres in the region will feel this cut keenly in the fall in support for new creative work whilst there could be a whole raft of scripts and authors that do not receive vital development and encouragement. To paraphrase Howard Brenton, writing the last time a Conservative government slashed public funding to the arts, at times like these a good red needs to keep his knives sharp.

  13. Mufaro Makubika
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    We stand at a perilous moment regarding the emergence of new writing in the East Midlands. It’s like standing at the very edge of a high cliff and watching the waves crashing against the rocks at the bottom. You can’t help yourself to imagine what could happen…This might read a little dramatic but afford me this…I am after all a DRAMATIST thanks to TWP.

    Noone tells you how hard writing is when you start. In many ways it’s like a war of sorts. This is when TWP comes into play. Through the sterling efforts of the equally wonderful Kate and Bianca you never feel alone. You feel supported, guided, nartured, encouraged, I could go on. Something that is inavluable for ANY writer. With the Arts Council short sighted decision you can’t help yourself but to feel angry.

    I don’t know what the future holds but TWP have my full support in any capacity I can be of help in. I have no doubt that there is a will to fight and continue and so a way will be found somehow.I have faith.

    Below is a little extract from another dramatist much smarter than me. I felt it appropriate somehow…

    ‘Now I see at last, Kostya, that in our kind of work, whether we’re writers or actors, the important thing is not fame, or glory, not what I used to dream about, but learning how to endure. I must bear my cross, and have faith. If I have faith, it doesn’t hurt so much, and when I think of my calling I’m not afraid of life.’

  14. Hugh
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I would like to thank TWP for the support I have been given in developing my writing. I continue to benefit from lessons learnt and links gained whilst on a TWP development scheme last year. It had been invaluable, and I hope that the organisation finds ways to survive in the current climate, and continues to help others.

  15. Posted April 4, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    As Chair of TWP I read these comments with such a mixture of pride and sorrow. I’m so grateful for the support, and for the recognition of the talent and vision and commitment of Kate and Bianca. If there was any rationale to the Arts Funding process the money would follow the talent here as it clearly has in other areas.
    We will ask AC what were/are they thinking of in cutting a strategic artform development agency, and where they think the support for new theatre writing should/will come from after TWP.
    We have always faced the challenge of not producing ‘finished’ art directly ourselves (but being the cultivator, r&d nurturer of new talent); and also of not raising alternative income to arts subsidy (not much opportunity for income from box office or ice-cream sales).
    Our questions to AC will also refer to arts orgs that have received increases, and whether these were applied for, or whether AC have acted strategically in these instances.
    And what they have in mind for the future of the writers who wish to follow the passionate advocates above, (and towards whom we are in humble gratitude).

  16. William Morris
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    TWP staged the first performance of my work, I am very grateful for the opportunity they have given me.

    It is probably the single most important experience of my writing career. It wasn’t just the performance that was so vital but the whole process from commissioning to editing pushed me to a new stage in my writing development.

    Given that the point of TWP was to regionalise new writing development for the East Midlands theatres and therefore save costs and maximise expertise, it must surely follow that new writing development for East Midlands theatres will either be more costly in future or not done at all.

    I am personally disappointed at this loss and there may now be a damaging void where there is currently a positive, pro-active creative team.

    I hope things can be turned around for you.

    Will

  17. Rajvee and Sheetal
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    We cannot emphasise enough the invaluable impact that TWP has made on both not only our playwriting, but personal developments. We are truly grateful for the support, help, encouragement, and guidance given by such passionate and devoted individuals that make TWP what it is. We share the sadness expressed by others, and believe that the world of theatre will be at a great loss without it.


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