Black Theatre Live - The Stage feature

26 June 2017

How to solve the problem of touring is a question the theatre sector has been grappling with for years.

One initiative is looking at that problem from a very specific angle: how do we create more touring opportunities for black, Asian and minority ethnic theatremakers? Now in its third year, Black Theatre Live selects and supports small-and mid-scale shows by BAME-led creative teams to tour to a consortium of eight venues across England, alongside a varied programme of audience engagement.

The initiative has been led by Jonathan Kennedy, outgoing executive producer at Tara Arts. He set out with a series of questions: “Is it getting harder to tour? Are venues making more conservative choices in what they programme? And how can we do something that shifts that argument out of the doldrums and moves it on?” In attempting to answer these questions, he embarked on extensive research, speaking to venues and companies across the country.

The consortium of theatres that emerged from this research was “by definition eclectic”, comprising venues in both urban and rural areas and with a range of audience demographics. The idea, Kennedy explains, was to enable BAME touring shows to reach “all kinds of audiences, both diverse and non-diverse”.