Dermot’s Blog – Thank You Bradford!

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This will be my last blog as Associate Artistic Director of Freedom Studios, but definitely not the end of my association with the company.

I joined the company in this guise in June of last year and, in my first blog I promised several things:

  1. To keep the company true to its mission to be ‘the home for new and experienced artists in Bradford with a view to bringing together audiences and communities by creating new work and other opportunities for them to engage with the arts.’

  2. To write these blogs each month to give a window into the company

  3. To open more opportunity to artists and to get to know more of the talent in the region

  4. To offer feedback for formal applications where requested

  5. To make the application process(es) as inclusive and accessible as possible

  6. To be kind and as open as I could be to the new experiences, stories and people that I’d meet along the way

My aim has been to keep true to these promises.

The actors and writers database were two of the earliest things implemented. There are currently 83 actors and 26 writers on the database. There have been opportunities shared with this database including those from our friends and colleagues at Archipelago Arts, Barrel Organ, Otherhood, Leeds Studio, HOME, Duck Soup, Box of Tricks, Bruntwood Prize, Papatango, Leeds Playhouse, 53Two, Artistic Directors of the Future, Terms and Conditions of Engagement and the Jed Mercurio Mentorship programme.

We have created two sharings for new writers – Intro to Playwriting and Street Voices 9 for which 95% of the actors came from the database – some of whom had not worked in Bradford before, many of whom were new to Freedom.

On that note – huge love to the Street Voices 9 writers (Stevie Cairns, Robyn Vinter, Krista Durand, Georgina Jovanovic, Ali Amla, Amy Lever, Jenny Mahon and Rob Gilroy) who created incredibly diverse pieces of theatre under the expert tutelage of Leon Fleming, for the incredible company (Tash Hudson, Rebecca Durham, Luke Broughton, Adam Porter Smith, Andrea Kovacs, Linda-Ray Ndlovu, Julian Finnegan, Mohammed Sheblu Miah), and Leanne Rowley with whom I had the pleasure of directing.

If you’re looking for writers, actors or a brilliant director in the shape of Leanne – you can get hold of them on the links above. Bradford has the talent – we need to create the conditions for it to be promoted.

I’m reliably informed that these blogs are being read (and appreciated) by a wide variety of readers. I’ve massively enjoyed the email conversations that have been sparked by the blogs and hope that the openness and transparency that they are designed to engender has been felt by you all – I guess if you’re reading this that question is answered right?

On that – I have endeavoured to respond to every email that I’ve received – I may not have been as successful at this as I would have liked but I’m very aware that sending an email to a theatre company – especially if you don’t feel part of that world – can be a daunting task, made worse if you don’t get a response. My aim to address this is linked to the Freedom Studios’ mission.

Giving feedback to applicants for formal applications is massively important. Again, a recognition that time and effort has gone into every application should be recognised in feedback. All applications need to be read and, being mindful of ‘gatekeeping’, and the barriers that it can (and does) create, this feedback allows assessors and applicants to be mindful of what is being asked of them and why. Where feedback has been offered I hope that it has been helpful.

At this point, I feel it necessary to acknowledge that this hasn’t happened in every case, and where I have made mistakes I have apologised and reassessed where, why and how the system hasn’t worked and adjusted accordingly. I apologise here again to those for whom this new system initially failed – we’re trying.

Before I sign off, I want to say thank you. Thank you Bradford for welcoming Mark and I to this brilliant, buzzing, beautiful, bountiful city – it’s been an absolute honour to continue to be part of the creative scene in the city and wider region at a point where the country is waking up to what we’ve all already known. (West) Yorkshire is thriving, artistic and vibrant. The best stories come from our region, the best storytellers too!

Stories are the way in which we make sense of the world.

Stories are the way in which the world makes sense.

Stories are the way in which the world is made.

Freedom Studios is about all of our stories – and I absolutely know that that won’t change.

Join the conversation about Dermot’s Blog – Thank You Bradford!