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Quality Metrics? Arts Organisations need to wake up and smell the coffee… #artsfunding

27 Sep

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There have been lots of opinions flying around on the internet over the last week about the forthcoming Quality Metrics that Arts Council England will be adopting as part of their assessment criteria for Arts Organisations.

One was a collection of tweets that had been aggregated into a Storify by Arts Professional. If you follow the list down to the bottom you will see that I was the very last tweet, and I spoke out in favour against an overwhelming tide of those who were anti the whole idea.

I am in favour of this for a number of reasons, firstly it allows our audiences, as well as our peers and creative teams to input into what we thought about the work. For example, the writing and the story might have been brilliant, but the lighting, and sound were poor, and the venue experience was cold and uncomfortable. These are all different aspects about an Audiences’s experience of a piece of work – An ‘AX ‘ if you like.  The metrics allow us to put together a whole array of responses and create data that can be used for future planning, development and to share with other organisations, about how we might improve and develop the work we make, and for whom.

This is the world in which we now live. I am pretty sure that all the people who are being negative about this use online data all the time to make assessments and judgements. Who has never used TripAdvisor before booking somewhere? Who has never looked at an Amazon or ImDB rating before watching or purchasing a film? You can’t even buy a toaster from Tesco online without reading the reviews.

So let’s take a step back, and have a think. The Arts Council already have assessments on our work, made by a small group of assessors. In their brief, the venue, the front of House, the Programme, the Audience, as well as the work in terms of presentation and production are all asked to be assessed. So are we saying that a handful of reports are a better judgement on Artistic work then a range of responses and data from audiences across the whole tour, or lifespan of a piece of work.

What does this say about the accusation of ‘behind doors and potentially elitist judgements’ versus a range of public responses that can be combined with peer and professional assessments?

I am a director, I have used the Quality Metrics scheme, and I think the range of responses and reactions are really useful. After all, my work has been judged for years by professional critics who decide how many stars they think a show is worth. So how about now extending that for companies who don’t get reviewed in that way, and to allow those people who have actually paid for a ticket to be able to give feedback to a company.

So my questions are these, do we not think that work made by artists and companies that have received public money should not be judged by the public too? Are we not interested in the data and responses from our audiences? Do we think a behind closed doors assessment is the only true way to assess a company and their work?

The time really is to wake up and smell the coffee, and to work with this concept and to help it to develop. We are not going to go back into the analogue box, digital is here and it is up to us how we can use it and to help us to make the case for public support.

But we can only do that with support from the public…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who do we now trust to tell us the truth?

10 Jul

This last two weeks have been quite extraordinary. I have read a quote allegedly by Lenin from almost 100 years ago

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen” – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

This is what it feels like has happened in the last fortnight. Where not only has something seismic happened that will alter the course of our historical trajectory, but the mainstream parties have all but seemed to implode.

Watching the unfurling of behaviour of so called allies and party colleagues on both sides has been truly staggering. Backstabbing, double crossing, in fighting, one-upmanship and all of it seemingly self serving and careerist.

In the meantime we have a political vacuum, which is being filled with a rise in noisy hate speech and crimes and terms like ‘suck it up sad losers’

So who do we trust now? some newspapers and media outlets? After some truly shocking partisan antics and fuelling of hate speech?

I think not.

The politicians? who are now squabbling over internal fights for leadership – whilst the pound plummets to a lower point than 1985, and the rest of the world looks on in disbelief.

I don’t think so.

So who will hold the mirror up and speak rationally about where we are and what this means? Who do we trust to tell us the truth?

I have spent the last week with artists, and theatremakers from across the country, and this has echoed out from all sides. We all need to listen to those who have not been heard. Those whose voices have been lost, and those who have felt ignored and left out.

As the Westminster bubble focuses inwardly on itself, we need to look outwards, across the country, and to work collectively. Maybe this does need artists to help us to listen, to reflect and to rebuild.

We need to not keep spouting the half truths from newspapers, rhetoric, and division, but to tell our own truths and to listen to people’s own truths too.

It is what makes us human, and we all know there is more that connects us than divides us. The future story of this country is in all of our hands. It is our turn to shape that story and to build our future that is not about division, but about tolerance, acceptance and understanding.

It is about being truthful…

 

Let’s talk about the rights and wrongs of IP for creative and cultural projects

2 May

I know this is going to ruffle some feathers, get some people’s backs up and that kind of thing. But it really is time we addressed the issue of rights in terms of creative work that has been made and produced using public money.

At some point in the journey of a piece of work that has been made using funding that is essentially public money, should, at some point, become feely available for all to see, and benefit from. This point should be arrived at after the piece of work has had chance to recoup costings and profits, and to use the word ‘monetise’ its potential.

I am talking about the capture of theatre work and live performances, and the ever growing  archive and body of work that we are now creating and producing. I am also talking about the archive and body of work that exists from days before the internet that is stored and hidden away. Lets be creative about the licensing for its use…

Why can’t we have some of the recorded work captured by leading theatres and organisations made available for people to revisit, study, share or enjoy? As long as they are not being traded further for monetary gain, they are then in a Creative Commons bank of ideas and inspiration for all to see and learn from. A digital public space for creative endeavour and understanding. A free library of visual, audio and performing arts.

I take my thinking from the talk I saw at TED way back in 2007 – yes 9 years ago – by Larry Lessig, who was then introducing the whole concept of Creative Commons Licences. Let’s reconsider these now. After all, where did the money come from in the first place to make the work? From either public subsidy, or people buying tickets. So actually, we are also stakeholders in each project, so at some point it must be OK to ask for a return?

As Professor Lessig says ‘let common sense prevail’

 

 

 

Another opening, another show…

1 Mar
Antigone Soldiers

Antigone Soldiers

As I sat in for press night for a show I had directed last week (Antigone at Theatre Royal, Stratford East) I began to count up how many press nights I had been to of shows I had made. I began to realise that I have opened main house shows at many venues up and down the country, and as a touring company each week has a new press night for each production we bring there. So I started to make a list, which is by no means comprehensive, rather the ones I can remember. So, if I miss any out please let me know and I will add them in.

So here goes…a list of venues, in no particular order, that I have made shows with or brought shows to, on tour where I have had press nights…for no other reason than to catalogue for myself on my blog. So here goes and apologies for the unintentional ommissions.

Pretty much covers most of the country!

York Theatre Royal                       13 main house shows and  8 studio productions

Lyric Hammersmith                      3 main house productions

Theatre Royal Stratford East        1 main house productions

West Yorkshire Playhouse             4 courtyard productions

Unicorn Theatre, London               3 main house productions

Hackney Empire                               1 main house productions

Nottingham Playhouse                    2 main house productions

Octagon Theatre Bolton                  2 main house productions

ArtsDepot, London                           3 main house productions

Leicester Curve                                  1 main house production

Richmond Theatre, London            2 main house productions

Trafalgar Studios, London               1 studio production

Derby Theatre                                     1 main house production

Northern Stage                                    2 main house productions

Birmingham Rep                                 3 main house productions

Contact, Manchester                          3 main house productions

The Lowry, Salford                             3 main house productions

Liverpool Playhouse                           2 main house productions

Liverpool Everyman                           1 main house production

Lawrence Batley, Huddersfield        4 main house productions

Exeter, Northcott                                 4 main house productions

Winchester, Theatre Royal                 5 main house productions

Nottingham, Lakeside Theatre          6 main house productions

Wakefield Theatre Royal                    5 main house productions

Gulbenkian Canterbury                      2 main house productions

Marlowe Canterbury                           1 main house production

Poole Arts Centre                                 4 main house productions

Jersey Opera House                            3 main house productions

The Hexagon Reading                         2 main house productions

Aberystwyth Arts Centre                    2 main house productions

Lancaster Grand Theatre                    1 main house production

Stirling Macrobert arts Centre           2 main house productions

The Byre Theatre St Andrews             2 main house productions

Warwick Arts Centre                             2 main house productions

Taunton Brewhouse Theatre               3 main house productions

Oxford Playhouse                                   2 main house productions

Everyman Cheltenham                          1 main house production

Bracknell South Hill Park                      3 main house productions

Plymouth Theatre Royal                        1 main house production

Northampton Theatre Royal                 1 main house production

Bradford Alhambra Theatre                  1 main house production

The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff               1 main house production

Newport Theatre                                       3 main house productions

Preston Charter Theatre                          3 main house productions

Gala Theatre Durham                              2 main house productions

Darlington Civic Theatre                         3 main house productions

Sheffield Lyceum Theatre                       1 main house production

Ipswich, New Wolsey Theatre                3 main house productions

Portsmouth Theatre Royal                      1 main house production

Hall for Cornwall, Truro                          2 main house production

Hamilton Theatre, Bermuda                  1 main house production

Belfast Grand Opera House                    1 main house production

 

 

The opening 4 minutes of The Knife That Killed Me movie #TKTKM

29 Sep

Here is the opening 4 minutes of our new movie – written and directed by Marcus Romer and Kit Monkman – for Greenscreen productions in association with Pilot Theatre and  Premiere – with UK distribution by Universal Pictures

The Knife That Killed Me – based on the novel by Anthony McGowan

Looking back / Going forward 13/14 #blogpost

30 Dec

This year was full of stuff – some great things and some less so. I don’t want to dwell on the crap bits or over expound the positives. I want to rather put a list together, with some pictures of things that have been important to me over the year. I am looking forward to 2014 with a renewed vigour and I am looking forward to creating interesting work with interesting people, and to spending more time with my family and friends who are so important to me. At times it felt as if several things were pulling me in different directions – but not quite as hard as the dog walker I managed to get a picture of in Buenos Aires…

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So, in no particular order

1. Blood + Chocolate – was the most extraordinary project ever. It was the culmination of two years of planning and an intense nine months of preparation and pre-production, resulting in a truly great project – my thanks go to all the people of York who came on the journey with us and to the hard work of all the teams who made this possible – so a big up to Pilot and SlungLow for making it happen.

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The full webcast video of the whole production is available on demand here to watch again Blood + Chocolate webcast

2. The Knife That Killed Me – This year we finalised the edit and did the test screenings at Universal Pictures and I am very much looking forward to this being in cinemas in 2014 as we move towards the release date. This has been the culmination of 5 years work since I first pressed ‘send’ on the first draft of the screenplay to the producers. I am incredibly proud of the work that the whole team put into this, to make this completely new feature film happen

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The quality of each of the frames is amazing – considering that there are 137,000 of them – and each has been hand finished and has hand drawn artwork on each one…

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Great hand drawn artwork from Stu Ord on all these frames and screengrabs

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3. TED Conference 2013 – I had an amazing time in Los Angeles in February at the annual TED conference. Some standout talks and great moments and new friends made…Like here ‘California Dreaming’ in front of the Hollywood sign

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One of the talks by Spoken Word Poet Shane Kocyzan is well worth a moment of your time.

4. Our house – the sale fell through after 6 months of messing about. Shift Happens, I know… I have now moved back in. I love this house. We may sell it this year, we may not. Either way I am not going to stress about it as we realise how fortunate and lucky we are.

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5. Shift Happens V – again we ran this in York and a big thanks to the fantastic line up of speakers – a couple of stand out moments for me were the fabulous Jenny Sealey from Graeae…

and to Matt Mason VP of  BitTorrent who came over from San Francisco to join us in York

the brilliant Julia Unwin, CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

and of course Elliot Barnes-Worrell

6. Twitter stuff – now whilst this is not really a big deal it has been one of the stranger moments this year – I read a post by a facebook friend which I adapted, thanked and tweeted. Turns out someone had done this earlier in the year too and I hadn’t seen it or was even aware of it. By that time it was too late – it went viral. I thanked all parties and then sat back and tried to fend off the 30k email notifications of each RT or favourite. I now know how to turn of those notifications btw…

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7. A proud dad moment as our son Christy Romer graduated with a 2:1 from LSE.

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8. And a finger selfie from Porto in Portugal as we crossed over the bridge to the old town was part of a great summer break too

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9. Where both Christy and Mills agreed to pose for their one annual picture for us, which was offley good of them…

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10. As proud moments go – this one of Susie on the BBC news – which was the first of her many live TV interviews in the course of her high profile job made me a very proud husband indeed

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11. So as I head towards our next programme of work which includes the No Boundaries Conference in February and then Pilot’s co-production with the Theatre Royal Stratford East, Derby Theatre and York Theatre Royal of a new version of Antigone adapted by Roy Williams, I feel very excited and privileged to be making this work…so watch this space for more updates and…

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12. Onwards and Upwards my friends…

BBFC Certificate 15 for ‘The Knife That Killed Me’ #TKTKM (very strong language, strong sex references, strong violence, drug use)

30 Aug

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BBFC film description and certification here

BBFCINSIGHT very strong language, strong sex references, strong violence, drug use

GENRE(S) Drama

DIRECTOR(S) Marcus Romer,Kit Monkman

CAST INCLUDES Jack McMullen,  Reece Dinsdale,  Jamie Shelton,  Oliver Lee,  Haruka Abe

SUMMARY THE KNIFE THAT KILLED ME is a British drama about teenage gang conflict and the pressures faced by a young man starting at a new school.

CUT All known versions of this work passed uncut.

Here you go – all the strong words in the film in one clump – passed uncut

BLOODY, SH*T, F*CKED UP, CHRIST ALMIGHTY, CR*P, F*CKING, C*CK, W*NKER, SH*T, MEATHEAD GOBSH*TES, C*CK, P*SS, W*NKER, T*SSER, SL*G, W*NKER, LOSER, PAUL FARTERMAN, FILTHY DOG, SH*T, FILTHY DOG, YOU’RE DEAD, RED SCUM, MAKE IM SH*T IMSEN, RED SCUM, B*TTY BOY, MORON, MENTALIST, OLD B*TCH, *RSEWIPE, LITTLE P*FF, CRETIN, SH*T, WEASLY LITTLE TW*T, APE MAN, P*SSY, TW*T, F*CK, SH*T, WHAT THE HELL, B*TTY B*TTY BOY, BLOODY MORON, P*SSY, F*CK OFF, B*TCH, APESH*T, B*LL*CKS, GUT ROT, COKE HEAD, FOR GOD’S SAKE, SUCKS C*CK, SUCKS C*CK, W*NKER, SH*T, KICKED THE SH*T OUT OF ME, FINGER UP HIS *RSE, DOG SH*GGERS, T*SSER, I COULDN’T GIVE A SH*T, D*CK, D*CKHEADS, LOSER, LANKY TW*AT, CHIEF B*MMER, FEISTY B*TCH, B*TCH, CROGGY DOG, THICK TW*T, CHICKEN SH*T, DOG SN*GGER, DOG D*CK SUCKER, SH*T STICKS, WHINY LITTLE SH*T, HE SH*T HIMSELF, SH*T STAINED DAD, CHICKEN SH*T DAD, GUTS ROTTING, YOU LIKE SUCKING YOUR DAD’S C*CK, BAST*RDS, SH*TTING TW*TTING C*CKING AR*EHOLE BAST*RDS,, PSYCHO TW*T, F*CKING STICK IT, SH*T WORK, STINKING F*CKING HANDS, WA*KER, SH*T, SH*GGING, TW*T, SH*T SH*T SH*T, SH*T, P*SSING RAIN, F*CKING SH*T, SHUT THE F*CK UP, SH*T OFF, LOAD OF CR*P, WHAT SH*TTING DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE, F*CKING, I HEARD YOU SH*T YOURSELF, F*CKING, PATHETIC TW*T, BAS*TRD, F*CK, F*CKING C*NT, LITTLE SH*TE, F*CKING DEAD, P*SSIES, SH*T EMSELVES, PR*CK, BLEEDING CHRISTMAS, CHICKEN SH*TS, P**FS, SL*T, DIRTY WH*RE, B*TCH, SPINELESS W*NKER, SL*G, SH*T, B*LLOCKS, TAKING THE P*SS, YOU’RE TOO FAT TO BE A FREAK, P*SS OFF, SH*T, P*SS OFF, TRACK RATS, APE MAN, C*CK LOVER, YOU DON’T F*CKING GET IT, PATHETIC W*NKER, LOAD OF SH*T, PATHETIC *RSEHOLE BULLY, W*NKER, B*STARDS, SH*T, TOO F*CKING LATE, F*CKING ANIMAL, CHRIST.