Thinking ahead

Mayfest needs to change, but how? Eddie Gibb considers what’s at stake.

Will this be the last Mayfest as we know it‘.’ No one is quite sure. but during the coming weeks some

searching questions will be asked about its future. To f

assist in the introspection, a firm of Liverpool-based

consultants, Positive Solutions, has been appointed to .

dissect this year's festival. Sticking to the line that the board will not pre-judge the outcome. one director conceded that it's possible the review could lead to a recommendation for the whole thing to be scrapped. but that's very unlikely.

There is. however. a feeling that the time has come to force the pace ofchange. Mayfest director Robert Robson‘s announcement earlier this year that he would be leaving to run His Majesty‘s in Aberdeen has given the board the breathing space to examine the way the festival works before a new director is appointed. Mayfest has evolved slowly and organically over the past eleven years; ifthere’s ever going to be change by Big Bang, it‘ll happen this year

One ofthe issues which is likely to be central to this review is the involvement of larger venues. ‘I think there are some critical questions that need to be examined.‘ says board vice-chair Mary Picken. ‘For

E instance, ifGlasgow has this vibrant festival in

Mayfest, why can’t it programme the King‘s?‘ Cats is opening at the King's on the same day as

issue the board will have to resolve; should Mayfest become a more cohesive, centrally-programmed event like Edinburgh's international festival, or instead move towards the ‘everyone‘s welcome' umbrella ofthe Fringe?

The other key problem is what to do with the community programme. Community involvement has always been central to Mayfest, and that commitment has inspired the development of companies like Clyde Unity Theatre and venues like the Mercat Theatre in Drumchapel. The community T element is almost entirely funded by Strathclyde Regional Council, which allows Mayfest to subsidise tours by professional companies to outlying areas of Glasgow. But that money is almost certain to disappear with the reorganisation of local government and Picken does not expect it to be ; replaced. The board will have to decide whether to divert money from the main programme or simply , cut the community arts adrift. whether it can swim or not.

Positive Solutions was chosen as consultant in part for its experience in community arts which suggests this aspect of Mayfest figures in the board's thinking. The assumption that there should continue to be a separate community programme is likely to be questioned by those who believe it widens the gulf between city centre and outlying audiences.

‘l’ve no problems with the word community other

than the connotations the arts world has put on it,’ says city council ans officer Graham McKenzie, who i is based in Castlemilk. ‘l would like to see more ofa partnership with Mayfest rather than just waiting to

i see what they send us. Over the years Mayfest has

i been tremendously important in generating the idea

I Mayfest begins. but it‘s clearly not a Mayfest show in l Oflhcalm in the Communlli’v bl" WC'VC 80‘ ‘0 83‘ name or spirit. Productions at other venues like the

Tron Theatre Company’s Diimbslrur'k sit more comfortably in the Mayfest programme, but are no

i more Mayfest-specific than Cars. This is the central

beyond that first stage.‘

i The consensus view is that Mayfest works, but it

? would benefit from a clearer sense of purpose. What exactly that purpose should be. has yet to be decided.

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The List 22 April—5 May 199415