Name of session
What does NTW getting it right look like in 2029?
Name of person who called the session
Summary of discussion
TEAM Model. It works. It’s sick.
Successful in engaging people who don’t ordinarily connect with theatre in its traditional model, people who don’t necessarily think that theatre is for them.
Make it a bigger part of what NTW does.
I’d like NTW to better acknowledge other languages that exist in Wales, beyond English and Welsh. For me, Welsh Language Standards are sometimes problematic when trying to collaborate with and serve particular communities in Wales. Lots of people / communities speak several languages, with English as a second or third. It’s more difficult to share with and elevate communities when Welsh has to be given equal or preferential treatment. It makes your messaging to those communities seem misjudged or inauthentic. The implementation of the standards is not intuitive, it doesn’t give organisations the agency to decide when it is important and useful to use Welsh and when it makes your engagement seem impersonal, bureaucratic or creates another barrier. We need more flexibility.
We have to ask ourselves where that attitude to the Welsh language comes from, why Welsh is framed as an inconvenience to us.
We’ve been so oppressed, trained, socialised to understand Welsh as negative and useless. In colonising, the English stripped us of our relationship to our language and imposed new structures, new hierarchy of language, in which Welsh is not as valuable and vital. This is a very deep and complex issue, beyond what NTW can redress. It effects our (in Wales) relationship to everything; power, education, racism… etc
How does multilingualism (more than just Welsh and English) pertain to a vision for the company?
The company has to get its messages right and tell its story clearly. Visually as well as linguistically.
I’m just saying we need more flexibility re. Welsh language, in order to best connect with communities to whom it’s not really relevant.
But it should be relevant. So why aren’t we making the right offer to people to learn and engage with Welsh. When people come to Wales, why do they learn English first. There are lots of good answers, of course, but the question is important.
Shouldn’t using Welsh signify that you’re being more inclusive, not less? I don’t think it’s a problem.
Is / should the Welsh language community be our priority when we think about inclusion? Should we be more or just as concerned with reaching European or Asian communities in Wales. Do they need more of a genuine invitation?
There’s the issue of language as an actual barrier to access and then there’s the issue of people feeling genuinely invited and part of something.
NTW should be about MULTIPLICITY
NTW getting it right is being pioneers of multidisciplinary work.
Having a better relationship with TGC.
I worked on SISTERS. (SISTERS was a Wales Arts Int. supported NTW R&D project, in collaboration with Junoon theatre company, Mumbai. Explored the lived experiences of women of South Asian heritage, here and in India.) Someone said to me that SISTERS wasn’t “Welsh enough”. People who think that need to interrogate the idea.
Coming from a place (in North Wales) where language doesn’t segregate by class it’s frustrating to be assumed to be middle class or to have a particular privilege or life experience for speaking my mother tongue.
NTW getting it right is about unity. A united sector and a national theatre to be proud of.
NTW making work that blows your mind. That makes you think, ‘there’s no other company that could make this’.
TEAM is flagship, in Wales and internationally. It has to be ensured that the energy and funds for TEAM don’t come at the expense of productions.
Both TEAM and productions should have that flagship quality.
They could inform each other, thematically, but be structurally separate. Funded and resourced separately so that they are both strong and focus isn’t drawn to one over the other.
At the moment, TEAM and NTW’s community work is excellent. The productions don’t currently reach excellence. NTW should be creating extraordinary work that’s internationally recognisable, like TEAM is.
NTW should be INTERNATIONAL
I think it’s a signifier of an exciting company. To be outward looking and outwardly connected is a signifier of healthy peoples and culture. It strengthens your work, company and offer. Puts minority people on global stage.
Bringing artists from elsewhere in the world. Extraordinary talent brought to Wales. And that could be more about looking to Europe than to England. Finding companies with whom NTW has a connection. Exchange of artists for development.
Shows that have had international success from Wales – why have they been successful?
Are we just capable of touring small scale work?
We should take artists out of Wales to create work elsewhere. Export the artists and their process rather than the product.
How do we / how can NTW create an opportunity for established artists to pass on their expertise and knowledge?
Mid-career artists. How can we continue to develop these artists and facilitate exchange and conversation between the levels of experience?
It feels that in Wales there’s not trust in artists to create stuff beyond small scale work. On behalf of funding orgs and producing orgs.
Enable Welsh artists to make ambitious work.
The most exciting thing I’ve been involved with re. NTW was a model where the community was invited to bring stories to develop in a playwrighting workshop. If we’re representing Wales, broaden that base, source ideas from communities and give them ownership.
NTW’s USP is connection to community. Separating that too much from production downgrades it, risks making it surface level or tokenistic engagement.
TEAM and NTW democratises the communities and stories that are seen on stage.
Community choruses, at their best, are an expression of a healthy relationship to inclusion.
Think about audiences as well as creators.
National theatres look different. NTW looks like it does because it recognises the long history of participation in Wales. We want excellence, ambition and to be internationally connected. But the company was created in this form so as not to impose an existing more traditional, hierarchical model from elsewhere and overwrite the tradition and history of theatre and performance in Wales.
NTW needs to remain innovative and work where there are gaps. I don’t think it should replicate Sherman or tour small scale plays. It needs to play to its strengths, do what it is uniquely placed, skilled and resourced to do, do what other companies cannot.
TYP and touring work was once really strong in Wales. Those companies were cut, where is that work?
I think it’s worth noting that the money that came for the creation of NTW didn’t come from or at the expense of existing arts funding, it was new money to the arts.
A sector question; where is the opportunity for mid-scale, mid-career artists?
Is a national theatre the right place for those artists? Where they’ll be exposed to enhanced scrutiny and responsibility.
Part of the criticism of NTW was for bringing in mediocre artists from elsewhere. NTW must show faith in Welsh artists.
Is it NTW’s role of ACW’s role?
NTW must have a vision that includes and develops artists for its main stages.
I’ve grown up on the doorstep of TGC and had no support from them. I’ve been developed and encouraged by NTW. There is not equal scrutiny on all of the national organisations.
Because NTW started from a place of inclusion, they get the scrutiny. What is TGC’s plan for the future of theatre in Wales and sustainable Welsh language theatre?
TGC are developing playwrights but it’s true to say there is a higher level of scrutiny on NTW because people were so hopeful and excited by its beginnings.
Calibre of artists is of course subjective. Rimni Protokol were mentioned as world class earlier and they have a great reputation but in my experience of working with them they weren’t very collaborative, they didn’t let collaborators here into their process in a genuine and productive way, whereas Louise Wallwein was really collaborative.
The criticism of the company isn’t just a critique of NTW not doing plays.
Lots of people don’t know enough about the great stuff that NTW is doing. By 2029, higher profile.
£1.7m is not enough money. It would be great for the company to have more resources. Create bigger more commercial ideas. World class productions that are seen by loads of people.
Selling Wales outside Wales.
Perspective from NTS: NTW is so significantly less funded than the other national companies. There’s a question around sustainability and to what extent it can/should be thought about as a business.
Add a Comment