Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Susannah York

A funny new year. It's only mid-January, and the two most celebrated actors I know personally have both died: Pete Postlethwaite, and now Susannah York.

I knew Susannah very well in the 90s: she used to come to all our productions, even the solo piece Departures / Arrivals. When I directed The Great God Brown, she recorded a voice-over for the show, so she was kind of in it... and I also helped her out with her performance as Ranyevskaya when she didn't feel it was working. That was a lot of fun.

What Pete and Susannah had in common was that they didn't just act. They believed in theatre as a way of making the world better. They had celebrity, and so they made use of it. For charity, for campaigning, and just to generate a positive energy.

Miss them both.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Lance's baptism with fire

Our new General Manager, Lance Bourne, started work this week. Lance's appointment is one of two we're able to make thanks to a core costs grant from the wonderful Esmee Fairbairn Foundation - and he's a huge boost to us as an organisation. We'll post some details about him on the website soon - but suffice to say for now that he's got a wealth of experience in both the public and voluntary sectors, and he understands business. And funding.

It's just as well, because this is the month in which the Arts Council has opened its doors to every arts organisation in the country to apply for National Portfolio funding. The good side of this is that it was always an exclusive club before - you had to be invited to apply for the status of a Regularly Funded Organisation. The bad sides are: 1) the open application process comes at the same time as a 30% cut, so at a rough guess it's going to be more about some RFOs not succeeding than loads of new organisations coming on board, and 2) it may never happen again.
So - Lance and I are using his first days to write a business plan, make budgets, think through strategies and artistic plans... all before he's really hung his coat up. At least it's going to mean we have a plan! Happy New Year everybody....