Improbable’s 15th annual unconventional conference for performing arts people, Devoted & Disgruntled: What are we going to do about theatre and the performing arts? will take place on Saturday 8th, Sunday 9th and Monday 10th February 2020 at Battersea Arts Centre, London.
Devoted & Disgruntled is an opportunity for performing arts people at every point in their careers, from artists to students, CEOs to Front of House staff, grassroots groups to seasoned professionals, to come together for a national conversation around the issues affecting the arts in the UK.
Lee Simpson, Co-Artistic Director of Improbable says: ‘As we watch current events unfold I would guess I am not alone being mired in anxiety, fear, anger, helplessness. But I feel none of those things when we meet as a community in Open Space. Not because we all know the answer and we all agree but because we have different opinions or perhaps no opinion at all and from this multiplicity of voices comes clarity. Actions seem obvious and possible. My path opens up and I know what to do. And there is so much to do.
For what it’s worth I think Theatre is in a fantastic amount of trouble. By the time you read this, goodness knows what political events have happened and how much more precarious the funding situation is; there’s been some tiny shifts towards a slightly less middle-class-white-male dominated sector yet already some are claiming it is “job done” when it really isn’t and this art form is, I reckon, getting less and less connected to anyone beyond its traditional constituency. I mean COME ON?!
Those are some of the things I think it is urgent that we work on. What about you?’
Improbable has partnered with Battersea Arts Centre on D&D events throughout its 15 year history, most recently collaborating on an emergency Devoted and Disgruntled event in response to the proroguing of parliament in September.
Tarek Iskander, Artistic Director and CEO of Battersea Arts Centre said: ‘I think theatre is at a turning point. We are close to taking a path that will make us much stronger, more pioneering and a great deal more important to people’s lives. Or the opposite.
For me Devoted and Disgruntled represents everything that is wonderful about our artform and the people in it. To achieve anything we need to work together, and this can only be done by being together, by disagreeing, by finding points of union, by inhabiting the same space, falling out terribly and reaching common ground.
Battersea Arts Centre’s Grand Hall has always been a home for radicals who refused to accept the status quo. Bertrand Russell, the Suffragettes, John Archer… all came here to share new ideas and create a better, fairer future. They fought impossible odds, but nothing was insurmountable. Our current challenges in theatre are significant, mammoth even… but they aren’t insurmountable. Not now. Not together.
I can’t wait for us to meet in February at Battersea Arts Centre and keep mapping a path. After every Devoted & Disgruntled I walk away inspired and motivated to do better. So let’s fill the room with those we hear from the least but need to spend time with the most. And let’s be brave, be bold and even a bit rebellious if we need to be.’
D&D uses a process called Open Space Technology (OST) which supports groups to self-organise and collaborate around any question of shared concern. It gives all participants the chance to propose a starting point for discussion, take part in any of the conversations or flit between them all. It is particularly effective in dealing with complex issues where diverse and conflicting views are present. At D&D everyone’s voice can be heard and no topic is censored.
‘Devoted and Disgruntled was born out of frustration.’ says Phelim McDermott, Co-Artistic Director. ‘I was frustrated both with theatre and with myself. I knew things could be better in theatre and I also knew the way I responded to that situation could be more creative. I wanted to stop moaning and actually do something about it.’
This year for the first time all tickets are Pay What You Choose.
Olivia Coxhead, Producer of D&D15 and Improbable says:‘D&D thrives when there are a range of voices in the room, from every part of the sector, at every level of experience. The cost of D&D has always been offset by Improbable, in order to keep ticket prices low. But by changing our model, and offering Pay What You Choose tickets instead of fixed price tiers, we hope that this brilliant event will be even more affordable and open to all.’
To ensure that D&D is an inclusive conversation for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people, access provision this year will include live captioning, BSL interpretation, tactile venue markings, an accessible changing space, and support for neurodivergent attendees including plain-text materials and a quiet space with specialist equipment. Anyone who would like to discuss specific access requirements to attend the event is encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7240 4556.