Some thoughts on leaving (Theatre in the Mill) but, you know, leaving arts jobs in general…..

Firstly: It is not yours – theatre is collective effort, collective imagination – it lives in partnership with its audiences, collaborating/commissioned/developed artists, technicians, administrators, marketeers – with every article or book you read or conversation you had that touched on the venture however tangentially. You shaped those collective inputs and that’s a great thing.

If you accept public funding – and I don’t think we think nearly enough about the responsibility that that brings with it – it is not yours, you are a steward of the public interest, however you define that.

Secondly: You had a plan, even if it was a bit fuzzy on the detail at the beginning you had a good idea about where you wanted to be in two/five/ten/fifteen years’ time. Are you there? If so, are you the best person to move things forward? Bear in mind it is not yours, you are a steward.

There is a (meaningful) joke amongst my predecessors at the venue that we are various regenerations of ‘The Doctor’. To enter a job with the knowledge (at the forefront of your consciousness) that it will end has always seemed to me a huge bonus in terms of planning. It clarifies. That the time-scale was shifted from two/three years to ‘arc of thought’ has been a blessing which allowed a more expansive ambition but it doesn’t change the essence. There is both beauty and politics in action contained within that idea of regeneration.

Thirdly: My stewardship of Theatre in the Mill was an attempt to re-arrange the relationship between venue, artist and audience – to celebrate and amplify the collectivity of theatre making; to understand that theatre can start from many places; to move beyond the idea of artist as ‘onlie begetter’ to that of artist within and responsible to society.

The world in which we make theatre is rapidly changing, post-internet – where we sit in relation to and how we define society and the communities that ‘surround’ us has profoundly changed, we have a responsibility (if the form as a living thing means anything to us) to change too.

Fourthly: Give other people to chance to shine – you are a steward of the collective public interest, it is not yours.


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