Thu, 27 Apr 2023
18:30 – 20:00 BST
In the wake of the latest round of Arts Council cuts – which have had a serious impact on new writing – how can freelance playwrights affect public policy? Can we learn anything from previous funding crises? In fact, have playwrights punched above their weight in influencing policy-makers?
Academic and former theatre worker Jane Woddis explores these questions in her new book, Acting on Cultural Policy: Arts Practitioners, Policy-making and Civil Society. She investigates practitioners’ involvement in policy-making through a case-study of playwriting policy in England – highlighting playwrights’ organisations, their activities and campaigns, including their fight for playwrights’ agreements and to influence Arts Council policy.
To launch Jane’s book and explore her ideas, the West Midlands branch is hosting a zoom panel discussion, including Jane, writer/director Aisha Khan and WGGB theatre negotiator David Edgar. Chaired by Tim Stimpson, the meeting will discuss how playwrights have set about changing the practices and policies of funders and managements in the past, and how they might influence policy now.
JANE WODDIS is a cultural policy researcher who also worked professionally in the arts for many years, including as administrator of Big Brum, the Birmingham theatre in education company. She is an Associate Fellow in the Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies at the University of Warwick and a member of the British Theatre Consortium.
AISHA KHAN is a director, writers and dramaturg for theatre, radio and screen. Aisha’s directing work includes The Abyss by Ghiath Al-Mhitawi (Royal Court/Edinburgh International Festival), Spirits by Gemma Bedeau and Lump by Kieran Launder (Freedom Studios), When We Were Brothers by Ben Tagoe (Freedom Studios), When I Say I Love You by Pete Bowker (SL Shorts), Beep (writer and dir, Northern Bullits), 15 Minutes Live (co-produced with Slung Low) and Wheatish (Spark Lab Productions/Radio 4).
Aisha’s writing includes Trojan Horse (Fury Films/Creative Scene), No Man’s Land, (Theatre An Der Parkau, Berlin/Leeds Playhouse), The Market (Leeds Playhouse), The Johnny Eck and Dave Toole Show (co writer with Mark Catley, Slung Low, dir Alan Lane), The Bee Mask (dir Sam Wood, Northern Bullits) and Moonshed (dir, Sarah Frankcom, Royal Exchange Theatre).
For BBC Radio 4 work includes Road Trip, Driftwood Heart, Paper Flowers and Durkop Diana (dir, Alan Lane, 15 Minute Live, Slung Low).
More recently Aisha has been working as a TV Script Editor/ Story Consultant as well as a writer for screen. Aisha was co-artistic director and CEO of Freedom Studios for over seven years recently stepping down to pursue more independent creative avenues of work.
DAVID EDGAR has been writing plays professionally since 1971. His original plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company include Destiny (1976), Maydays (1983, Plays and Players best play award, revived in 2018) and Pentecost (1994, Evening Standard best play award). His adaptations include a multi-award-winning adaptation of Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby (RSC, 1980). In 2018 he wrote and presented a touring solo show, Trying it On. He is a past President of WGGB and a theatre negotiator for the union, which gave him an Outstanding Contribution award at the 2023 WGGB awards. In 1989 he founded Britain’s first graduate playwriting course, at the University of Birmingham. His book about playwriting, How Plays Work, was published by Nick Hern Books in 2009.