Why start a theatre company? There’s no money in it and now that people have less disposable income the footfall around venues will continue to decrease. Why then are theatre companies cropping up in Cork?
The path ahead of new theatre companies looks bleak, with funding cuts in the Arts Council and Culture Ireland, it seems there’s never been a worse time to begin a career in theatre. At a recent Theatre Forum meeting last Tuesday in Dublin, there was a heavy atmosphere in the auditorium as people vented their fears and frustrations. The fear of paying bills and surviving, against the impermanent nature of financial support offered by The Arts Council, personalised the discussion. To live and work and pay bills and all the time nothing is certain – even long term funding offers no security of personal value.
Fatigued loomed, people tired and worn out by the constant struggle with the beast. New theatre companies are needed now more than ever, to take up the voice and fight. If we loose the Minister for the Arts, we have no voice. It’s that’s simple. You could be forever looking at what’s wrong and what went wrong but what’s needed is acceptance of where we are. Perhaps funding can be managed so that out traditional repertoire is maintained while our national voice is encouraged on a global stage, but, what is that voice?
The question itself is the bridge between what is established and what’s to come. The good and the new. Emerging artists and established companies have an opportunity to use available resources and experience to cut away the fat and get to the bones of what’s been put up on our stages. The Performance Corporation seem to have a good take this as do the Corn Exchange and Rough Magic, who all have extended resources and support to young companies. The Project Arts Centre too, has such a policy and Bell Table in Limerick is working with the Limerick Theatre Hub.
Do we have this in Cork? Is there a production company, big enough so that it could piggy back a smaller one? Not with financial support, but more in the area of backing the company so that it ups the integrity of smaller company on a bigger stage. It’s about voice, established companies need to keep shouting and need the support of emerging artists. There’s no point on everyone shouting for different things at this point. As a sector we need get organized and shout together. The arts is a huge part of our national recovery. We are not outside it, we there, watching, recording, interpreting and expressing society as it melds and changes. To walk away from theatre now, and try a job in something…else, would be stupid.
There is no safe place in theses times, there is only what know we can do as individuals. If we can row the ship together through these stormy waters, think of the imagination that will be released. To move theatre on in this country and maintain our international reputation depends on new established artists working together to create stimulating work on a global stage.
Co – Artistic Director of The Roundhouse Theatre Company
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