What Do Venue Managers Want?
The venue sector has been squeezed in recent budgets with cuts in both Arts Council and Local Authority funding. Now more than ever before, venue managers are acutely aware of the waste at the top of the funding system and the want below where small venues and production companies seek to survive. They have seen how the opera world has thrived by breaking down old structures and by diversifying in order to give audiences more variety and value. Venue managers see this as a way forward – one that offers a template for touring theatre to develop in step with the new regional infrastructure and its audience.
Venues now operate in networks – Nasc, Nomad, Strollers and ARTI – competing for the project funds available to the independent theatre touring sector. The outcome can be very satisfactory for the stakeholders, and it is widely believed that the Arts Council will look at increasing its allocation to the independent production companies who work with regional producing partners. Venue managers keenly appreciate that the prohibitive cost in theatre is the pre-production expenditure, and they see it as a lost opportunity when a company fails to plan and to push out beyond its home base.
The contribution of Decadent Theatre Company to the ongoing debate about our national theatre has been through commitment to the ideal of access for audiences around the country. Venues have long benefited from tours directed by Andrew Flynn, for example, the Irish premiere of The Lieutenant of Inishmore which toured not once but twice, such was the demand for this original production. Andrew Flynn also toured The Lonesome West and the award- winning production of Juno and the Paycock. More recently, it was Brian Friel’s The Faith Healer and McDonagh’s The Skull in Connemara – each play touring to over thirty venues north and south of the border.
The touring history of Decadent Theatre Company is testament to their commitment made to regional venues and audiences – a commitment that has not been seen since the halcyon days of Field Day Theatre Company or the Irish Theatre Company who emulated the fit-up companies of old. Decadent Theatre Company’s model of production is driven by the support of venues who signal to the Arts Council an interest in hosting the company’s shows. Venue managers want Decadent Theatre Company because its choice of material has caught the attention of their peers, the public, and the national press. They want to see more of the verve that Decadent have shown when planning to launch the Irish premiere of The Pillowman from Galway Town Hall Theatre, visiting the Gaiety Theatre Dublin, The Everyman Cork and The Lyric Theatre Belfast.