When the UK went into lockdown in March 2020, I quickly became aware of online get-togethers and Townhall meetings run by organisations looking to support their artists, communities, and associates. Talking to my director mentees made me realise that there was a generation of graduate and emerging theatre creatives who hadn’t yet grown enough of a network to be invited to these spaces, so I put a callout on Twitter to see if anyone wanted an online space to hang out.
One Wednesday afternoon, more than fifty of us got together to shoot the breeze – of course there was more to say, and more, and more – anyway, long story short, it turned into an amazing weekly meet up of wonderful creative minds which ran every single Wednesday for an entire year.
The programme was devised initially by Derek Bond, Richard Fitch and myself, with a regular crowd of emerging creatives who quickly became friends and colleagues. We talked about practice, process, the industry, the horrors of writing cover letters. We practiced pitching on each other, we proofread arts council applications, we hyped up one another’s projects. We invited guests to speak about their careers and jobs. We did creative exercises together, picked each other up on a bad day, troubleshooted challenges and celebrated each other’s success.
After running it for a year and arranging a session, creative exercise or visiting speaker every week, I then helped the group transition into becoming a peer led space. My handover gift was a session on ‘how to hold space’ and after that, the group surged forwards in a new direction, with an amazing team of admins in charge of organising, delegating and hosting.
I can’t emphasise enough how much this group meant to me. Initially a lockdown project, it quickly became a safe space to try things out, to grow and be challenged and supported with ideas, emotions and creativity. Being a director can be a lonely job – there’s usually only one or maybe two of you in the room – and I am so grateful to have found a tribe of like minded friends, colleagues and peers.
Since the world is opened up again we are no longer meeting weekly but virtual meet ups do still happen sometimes, and are now in the hands of the group. We sometimes do a Zoom check-in and chat, or pitching practice, sometimes practical sessions if anyone has things they want to share with the group or if they want to try something out.
Our WhatsApp group is always active with job opportunities, requests for help or offers of help, all kinds of mutual support, and a space to be able to share things that are on our minds. If anyone wants to join – drop me a line and I’ll send the joining link!