Updated: May 28
#SceneChange began as an email invitation ‘let’s have a dialogue in strange times’. Our initial conversations, limited to a manageable size zoom page, began as a sharing of experiences of the last few lock-down months, a realisation that we were all so isolated and that one of our primary concerns was the buildings, directors and collaborators that we normally thrive on had gone very quiet. We could see that a relatively small group of directors and chief executives were struggling hard to keep their companies afloat, dealing with furlough, lack of box office and a crash in private sponsorship and hires. We could understand why this was happening, but were acutely aware that there was a real danger that crucial decisions could be made about reopening and programming, without any discussion with the wider freelance community of artists that these institutions depend on to create their art. In this time of crisis we believe that the design community are essential to respond to the immediate problems and also how we can be part of the transformation that will see theatres being reopened with an inevitable shift in audience numbers, expectations and demographics. As shapers of theatrical space and dramaturges of narrative through the use of the space, we feel we are ideally placed to be at the heart of discussions about how theatres in the future will work.
Our first gestures were to highlight the closure of our theatres, the loss of work either through images of abandoned stages, empty model boxes or gloriously textured work desks, rich with the history of past shows, now idle. We started to be proactive, putting out blogs and contacting our immediate colleagues in buildings we had close association with to push for dialogue.This seemed to work ,or at least we rode the tide, and over the next few weeks many of us will be joining group conversations initiated by the buildings, to reach out and share. There are excellent positive developments, such as Fuel theatres open letter to theatres encouraging all companies to employ a freelancer to be part of these discussions. We plan to share as much news as we can with the wider community as we hear it .
We are part of a larger wave of action and have become aware of many separate groups of designers in different parts of the country or at particular stages of their careers who are reaching out and talking. We want to be a community open to all stage designers at any stage of their career and throughout the country (even internationally).The full extent of the creeping outsourcing of artist skills from within buildings has now suddenly been made very transparent. A whole community of costume supervisors, production mangers, lighting designers, props makers, costume cutters, wig makers, set builders, sound and video designers and all freelance theatre technicians etc all without work and many falling through the gaps in the support offered to the self-employed. We value their essential contribution and are looking at ways to broaden and highlight the message of the incredible skills base within British theatre ,which also supports the TV and Film industry.
The community is open and growing through the power of Zoom and social media, please join us !