Join our 18th annual "unconventional convention" for everyone who loves, makes, and lives theatre and the performing arts.
An invitation from Kathryn Bilyard, executive producer at Improbable
We’re near the end of 2022 and it’s been a difficult, exhausting and maybe sometimes exhilarating year for us all. We’ve made it, just. At Improbable we are kicking off 2023 with the return of our annual Devoted and Disgruntled event – a moment for the sector to come together and try to work out what the hell comes next. It feels to me as I write this that there could not be a more necessary place to start the new year.
As a sector we’re facing so many forces at the moment which increase pressure and drive division. I did do a draft of this which listed some them but it was a bit depressing, so I cut that. Two colleagues said to me this week that ‘we are playing right into their hands’ (‘we’ being the sector and ‘they’ being DCMS/the government and whoever is leading the department/the country this week). We’re busy firing anger at ACE, criticising each other’s work and choices, who has made their work available for free and who hasn’t, London vs not-London, ‘crown jewels’ vs everyone else, freelancers vs employed staff… we are making their own arguments for them and spending our sparse energy doing it.
I don’t want to do that.
Collaborations, partnerships, friendships, project teams and support networks both formal and informal have kept me going this year. We’ve shared rage, tried to measure risk with others, shared knowledge about what’s going on, shared resources, sometimes cried together and felt lost together and also celebrated together. All this has been both a lifeline and a continual reminder why I am ‘devoted’.
I want to do more of that.
Can we increase our generosity to each other in this landscape? Can we create and share resources better? How can we attract, care for, sustain and develop talent collectively, recognising our shared workforce and ecosystem? How can we advocate for our work and the sector with unapologetic ferocity?
In other words, how, in the face of everything going on in the sector and the world can we be the people, the organisations, the sector and the change we want to see? – That is my question and challenge at the start of 2023.
People will attend this event with very different contexts and points from which to start the day and the year. Some will have more resources than others to do this work. It’s going to take people from across the sector, from new starters to leadership of national institutions, artists, fundraisers, curators, reviewers, production teams, marketeers, funders, producers, audiences, to come together and, in the face of everything, support each other individually and collectively to steer our own course.
So we invite you to join us in January, however you are in that moment. Let’s connect and re-connect. Let’s start off the year by getting a load of stuff we want to work on up on the wall and get to it.