Tag Archives: arts council

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’




Digital Archaeology – building the future archives for the Arts

23 Aug
cc Big Data Water Wordscape by Marius B

cc Big Data Water Wordscape by Marius B

One of the key things I have been thinking about and working on is how the digital data of projects and work we have made will form part of the future of archaeology. How the data will relate to the spaces and the collective memories of artists, participants and audiences.

This has formed part of my thinking whilst working on the Unesco project for York, which was was recently designated the first City of Media Arts in the UK, as part of the global Creative Cities Network. Here the city joins a network of 68 other creative cities across the world with designations which include – music, film, design, food, literature, folk art and our own, media arts.

For me the definition of what constitutes media arts is broad and far reaching and it involves the integration of new media technologies into creative practice and social exchange. This includes disciplines such as video games, computer animation, digital and interactive art, sound art, film, television and theatre.

It is clear to many, that that there is a strong heritage and archaeological emphasis on York’s historical past within the City. For many visitors this is a key aspect of their visit – to see the Minster, the Jorvik Viking centre, the Roman foundations, the Mediaeval Walls or the National Railway Museum to name but a few.

But in this historical DNA of the City runs a bright seam of innovation, be they the Roman water systems, the railway engineering or more clearly the stained glass windows of York Minster. It is here we need to stop and think about those windows, and realise that they were of course the cinema, internet and television of their day. Their use of light, space, story was extraordinary and provided a shifting and colourful storytelling experience.

They were the media arts of their day.

Which is why I am keen to explore the future possibilities of how we can evolve the experiences and social interactions that the media arts can create. Sharing stories on and offline, in spaces and places can help to embed and build the future memories and narratives for us all. The data of these interactions through sharing of pictures, stories, images, vines, videos, all tagged and geo-located will help to form the future archives and provide rich digital archaeological seam for future generations to discover.

It is key that Artists and Arts organisations come to realise their role in the work that they make and how they can help to build these future archives digitally and make them available and accessible. It is their connection with audiences and participants to help to build and grow these vast connections with data, stories and memories of the work that has been made and what is has meant to be part of it.

I am not able to walk up the steps of my office at Pilot Theatre without the memory of the HD projection of our co-production of Blood + Chocolate onto the building back in 2013. I am going to add to the digital archaeological heritage of the city by tagging this picture of my office below.Blood+ChocolatePilotTheatre

Marcus Romer – Artistic Director – Pilot Theatre

 York City of Media Arts

Artsfunding and understanding touring #brewhouse

23 Feb

What happened at the Brewhouse was clearly a terrible blow for the town, the staff and their audiences.

But also for the whole wider arts ecology and infrastructure. There are companies and artists who are owed thousands of pounds – and some who date back to early October last year who have not been paid.

It is highly unlikely that any of these individuals and organisations will see any of their money as they now all count as unsecured creditors.

At Pilot Theatre we know this only too well, as this is the second time this has happened to us.

I want to place our story in context. As you will be aware we have been very active on issues of artsfunding

I set up the artsfunding.ning.com site almost 3 years ago, when I could see the shifts that were looming and happening.

So when Somerset announced its 100% cut to its arts budget we were very active in raising this issue as a pending crisis.

So wanting to stand shoulder to shoulder with venues and to continue our commitment to deliver great art for everyone – we agreed to continue to bring our work to the county.

In so doing we also agreed to a significant reduction in our fee to be able to support the audiences and the venue.

Our Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner production was booked into the Brewhouse to play in November 2012.

For those who don’t realise the cost for us keeping a show with 10 actors, 4 tech team, staff director, transport, wages and marketing costs us about 14/15k per week.

Our fee normally covers this and we aim to break even.

In this particular case we agreed a lower fee of 8.7k from the Brewhouse – as we wanted to play there, and to utilise our subsidy to support them in difficult times.

So again seeing that our role as a national touring NPO was going to reach those audiences who would not have ordinarily had the chance to see the work.

This is part of our joined up strategic touring plan at Pilot Theatre.

So you can see – we have still had all our costs, and of course will not receive our reduced fee to help offset our budget line.

There are questions to be asked. At what point did the Brewhouse realise they could not pay their artists? October? November?

In which case who did they prioritise payments to? Who did get paid after October? November? December?

I have heard from companies and individual artists who have not been paid. Some of this is clearly their own money and is affecting them greatly.

So, this is a very regrettable situation and it damages the whole sector and its reputation.

We run a very tight ship at Pilot Theatre – we are a small organisation – we have to. We are all too aware of our responsibility with public money and we have a very strong and committed Board who oversees our fiscal planning and reserves policy.

As a charity our Board are personally financially liable – if we were found to be wrongfully trading when insolvent – it would be they who would have to address this.

My question is to the Board of the Brewhouse – when did you become aware of the situation?

A solution I would like to put forward is that venues and companies use escrow payments – where the agreed fee is held in an escrow account – they use this in the film industry and it would be one way the Arts Council could protect its investment in NPO’s and artists it funds – rather than leaving them to the behest of insolvency law

Marcus Romer
Artistic Director
Pilot Theatre