This week’s Luvvie In is a collaborative effort, with Muriel Romanes, Fiona Orr and Alexandra Stampler, the women behind Stellar Ouines, having their say. This company’s work in promoting and liberating the talents of women on all levels of the theatre profession has been ongoing for over a decade. But what does the future of Scottish arts and, in particular, the cultural commission, hold for artists, male and female?
Shouldn’t creative artists be at the very heart of all cultural policies and initiatives? At Stellar Ouines, we’re concerned that the resignation of Craig Armstrong from James Boyle’s cultural commission leaves this body, which is to decide so much of the future in Scottish arts, without any input from artists at all. Armstrong had expected to be part of a cultural discussion that incorporated a 50/50 mix of artists and administrators, but he found himself the only artist on the board. We wonder if there isn’t a danger that without input by the artists themselves, the cultural aspirations of Scotland’s artists will be neglected, thus damaging the art form of theatre. Are we being naive if we imagine a social agenda dominating the work of artists?
The climate we are currently working in is one of constant change. We await the implementation of our cultural strategy, restructuring the cultural institutions and funding bodies and, of course, the imminent arrival of the National Theatre for Scotland. What does not change is that the artist’s role still does not seem to be at the very core of these policies. We sense reluctance in ‘Culturally Strategic Scotland’ to address the needs of the artists directly, using them as a tool for the social. We are fortunate to live in a time and place with so many wonderfully talented people with a valuable contribution to make to the theatrical landscape. Stellar Quines continues to support and facilitate the
ENSEMBLE DRAMA THE LOST FOREST
artists with the potential to create powerful and influential theatrical experiences for the audience we all serve.
So what about WOMEN artists? At a recent performance of The Memory of Water, one of the more senior members of our audience remarked that, in her view, ‘women would always succeed in whatever profession they chose as long as they were good enough’. Stellar Ouines believes that we are not yet at this point. Attitudes and understanding do not reflect the reality of trying to make a living as a freelance artist. There are hurdles, burdens and challenges at every point. We create the opportunities and support the female artists so that they can ‘succeed’. We continue to be a company that champions and advocates a strong collective voice for female artists - we hope that policy makers will listen.
Re: Tread/n9 the Boards Whispers feels a deep unease about the current. usual. crisis at Scottish Opera. This is not so much about the usual caterwauling from the best seats in the house of the arts world. as the implications for those in the one and sixes. the theatre community. Although one is not unsympathetic to Scottish Opera. there's no doubt about the appalling profligacy of the company over the years. If a theatre were run like this company. it would long since have closed. More to the point. Scottish Opera knows full well that this crisis will be handled like all the others; the ‘prestige' institution points to its ‘national' status, and the Executive will no doubt cough up again, a knee-jerk reaction for politicians when faced with choices about national institutions. More money. and the usual warning not to do it again, will no doubt follow the £4.5m bailout.
But the real problem will arise if our impending National Theatre should conduct itself in the same manner. Whispers has been known on these pages to oppose the project. but now we have it. it‘s important that the theatre world makes the best of it we can. And perhaps the most impOrtant factOr in this is ensuring that the National does not become another ‘prestige' institution. the kind of money magnet that the Executive must fund. however badly run it is.
No doubt one could argue that any money directed at an underfunded theatre sector is a good thing. but not if resources intended to build the infrastructure of the Scottish Theatre which the National is supposed to commission are diverted into the bloated national institution itself. Technically. this couldn't happen. yet it has in other countries. The indirect effect of the Opera House in Sydney was the closure of more than half of New South Wales“ theatre companies. while until the Boyden report. the same indirect effect of having a National COuld be witnessed in English regional theatre. The Executive must bear in mind that the important thing about
Tramway, Glasgow, Thu 8—Sat 10 Jul
This month's European elections were marked by a tidal wave of apathy in the polling booths. with turn-out
disappointingly low in spite of the EU's recent expansion. Meanwhile. back in Britain. a former TV presenter pledged to cut the country adrift from Europe as a small but significant chunk of the voting public embraced Robert Kilroy- Silk’s anti-unionist UK Independence Pany
As European politics tries to get its breath back. the time is more than ripe for Euro-culture to step into the ring. And Collusion Theatre is doing just that. Funded by the EU's Culture 2000 programme. The Lost Forest is an ensemble production that brings together young people and professional actors from Scotland. Lithuania and Ireland. ‘The whole project is about exploring different
kinds of metaphors about a new Europe.' says director Keiran Gillespie. ‘It's about looking at cultural connections and exploring reasons why there might be difficulties that weren't there before. We have a new Europe and the views of young peOple are very important. They are interested and Curious.‘
Using the age-old theatrical image of the forest. Gillespie's show investigates this metaphor in terms of the Europe of today. ‘The forest is a place of refuge. of danger and of transformation.‘ he says. And it is through this cathartic medium that the show investigates the contradictory nature of our world and seeks new truths for the era we live in. (Corrie Mills)
having this National Theatre is for it to have good. well resourced companies to fund. We are reliant on the wisdom of politicians. Keep your overdose close at hand.
Scottish Opera’s La Boheme
2.3 Jun—8 Jul 200-1 THE LIST 65