It’s just a week and a bit now until November 5, when we’ll be announcing the first year’s programme for National Theatre Wales. If you are wondering where your party invite is, it’s coming this week, but it’s not for your usual kind of party! In line with our digital, eco-friendly approach, our season launch will be an online event – with everything announced in a livecast at nationaltheatrewales.org at 12.30 on the 5th. We’ll be doing the announcement from our office; there’ll be some press there to ask questions, and artists there to answer them, but the main focus is in cyberspace - for the first ever online launch of a national cultural organisation. Do join us. Invite friends round and have a lunch-launch party! Or buy yourself a nice bottle of cava from Tesco’s and write the afternoon off!
It’s about time! It’s nine months since I arrived in Cardiff to get things going, and in the nicest possible way it seems a lot longer! There’s been a fair amount to do, and folk on this network have seen evidence of a lot of what’s been going on – from staff joining us, to our housewarming, to try outs of projects like Debate and Respond, to reports of visits across the country. However, there’s also been a bunch of work that has, of necessity, been less public – the conversations and negotiations with artists, companies and venues as we’ve worked on developing the best possible programme for our launch year. It will be a relief to be able to let you know the results!
You may wonder why we’ve been so hush hush about the final programme decisions when in general we have tried to be as open as possible about the way we work. There are three reasons. One is that it isn’t fair on artists or companies to let everyone know about ideas when they are still in development: artistically it can mean that the idea gets fixed too soon, and contractually, until the deal is done there’s nothing to announce! The second reason, and possibly the most important is that we’ve always wanted people to think of our whole first year of work as our launch, rather than, say, just the first show. With a huge variety of work planned, it would be daft to point to only one show as somehow summing up National Theatre Wales; announcing 12 months of shows all in one go allows us to demonstrate the kind of company we want to be. The third reason for keeping the details secret is that it’s a lot more fun that way! If we told you about the shows in a slow dribble of information we wouldn’t get half the impact we get by holding it all for one big bang!
So, from November 5 things will be very different. You’ll know what we are planning, and we’ll be focussing on production of the shows. We’ll be distributing the info far and wide (look out for our lovely new ‘newspaper’) and we’ll be working to develop local support and enthusiasm for each of the shows in the locations where they’ll be taking place. Teams of artists will be pushing themselves into exciting new territory. Teams of advocates will be recruited in each of our locations – to support, engage with, and publicise the work (let us know if you want to be involved – particularly if you see a show announced close to home on the 5th).
This website will be changing too. The lovely NTW online community (that's you) will still be here – just one click away from the home page (and of course if you want to go straight to this familiar page, you can just bookmark it) but we will also be launching our full website – with details of shows, company info, and all the stuff that audiences will need. The site has been designed to interact dynamically with our online community, and I hope you will all enjoy the way that the community will inform the content of the site. Bit by bit, as the shows start to come to life, a new range of people will also start to engage with our online community activity – audiences, partners in projects, students – adding to the range of voices. And I hope we will all use the site to share thoughts on the work, and on what we should do next.
See you on the other side of the bang!