Twist or Stick

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The Everyman, Cork 21-22 June 2017

Theatre Forum and TheatreNI present Conference 2017


The largest gathering of professionals from the performing arts in Ireland and Northern Ireland takes place in Cork this year. Built around a call to action, Twist or Stick, a programme of speakers, panel discussions and debates explores how the wider performing arts sector negotiates with a rapidly changing economic, social and political environment. We are constantly responding to change in our communities, trying to protect independence, originality and livelihoods while also recognising artists are changing how they work. In navigating a relevant and exciting future for the performing arts, practitioners, artists, venues, festivals, companies and public bodies have choices: to change or to stay the same; to do something or to do nothing; to decide what to get rid of and what to protect. Riffing on card games, this rapid fire two-day programme asks how we will play the hand we have been dealt. Ali FitzGibbon 2017 Conference Curator

Conference programme From keynote addresses looking at changes by Shona McCarthy, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Tania Canas, RISE Refugees, here’s an overview of the 2017 conference programme featuring artists, producers and critics who have boldly responded to their changed environments. Sticking with it Reflecting on the growth of political interest in a creative and forward-looking economy on both sides of the border, awardwinning producer Andrew Eaton will explore how the performing arts intertwine with other industries, drawing on his own perspective from within film and television. Playing to different rules The global political landscape is changing. Borders are being breached and closed. Exploring the role of the artist in telling new and more complex stories about personal, national and international identity, internationally renowned choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan will discuss his work as ignoring borders, concentrating on what makes the connection and what effect working internationally has on his practice. Artist or Audience? Friend or Foe? All forms of performing arts are increasingly made collaboratively, bringing together artists from different disciplines and forms and combining artists with non-artists. This muddies questions of ownership and definition but also liberates everyone involved. Róise Goan will chair this discussion asking how artists navigate the inexactness of this work and does it offer a richer, more diverse picture? The Buck stops here Questions are often raised about whether the artistic or executive lead is calling the shots. Others challenge the space in our company infrastructure for new and independent voices, arguing for new collaborative approaches in which no one person is responsible for the artistic or strategic direction of companies or venues. Julie Kelleher will chair this session asking what are the different ways in which we can empower and show leadership and how do we nurture a sector fit for future growth?

Ch-ch-ch Changes Festivals are the anchor to our cultural calendar. It is often easy to miss the constant evolution. This discussion will throw light on the role and function festivals play in contributing to change – changing communities and social expectations; instigating and responding to changes in the cultural landscape, and dealing with internal change management. Casting a critical eye With traditional theatre and dance criticism in print media under threat and new channels of communication opening up, a panel of experienced critics and commentators chaired by Peter Crawley will explore the changing position and role of critique. What new modes of dialogue are emerging between public, media and artists. What challenges and opportunities exist for the future of criticism? And what role do both commentators and makers have in protecting or advancing the need for an ongoing public discourse on the work that is put on our stages? Seats at the table Our society is changing but do our companies and our stages reflect that change and do our audiences see themselves in the stories we tell? Mary McCarthy chairs this session which will explore the complex decision-making and considerations of how individual artists, including international artist Tania Canas, organisations and the sector involves and engages with communities with different identities and histories. Twist or Stick? Conference Closing Session What will you keep or change? What will you protect or do in a new way? Throughout the conference and concluding in the final closing session, these questions will shape an interaction with delegates devised by Hilary O’Shaughnessy and Ali FitzGibbon. When you leave the conference, what will you do next?

Conference additions Open Call Do you have a burning issue that isn’t in the programme? Open Call is the place for it. During the conference, a slot has been set aside for unscheduled speakers to put forward questions, problems or solutions. Rules are simple: All proposals must be sent to by 30 May. Each one must address the conference theme and each contribution (format is unlimited) must be delivered in 3 minutes or less. Warning: there will be a loud gong! TheatreNI Members’ Meeting On the morning of Wednesday 21 June, TheatreNI will host a closed door roundtable discussion unpacking some of the themes of the conference in the context of current Northern Irish policy, and changes to government evaluation. How does the sector unite to develop its own language of accountability and outcomes? Theatre Forum Benchmarking, Measurement and Strategy On the morning of Wednesday 21 June, Theatre Forum will host a special session to open up discussion with new and longstanding members about the most recent Benchmarking, developments in data collection and analysis as well as implementation of the Arts Council strategic plan in the years ahead. Conference Round Tables Want to get under the skin of one of the conference topics and ask more probing questions? A selection of conference speakers will host these informal table conversations early in the morning of Thursday 22 June. Conference Hosts Never been to this conference before? Feel like you won’t know anyone? Request a Host and you will be paired with another delegate at registration and during networking moments to help you get the most out of your attendance.

Neon Western Ticket Offer Being in Cork during the Festival is a real opportunity to see shows. On 21 June, discounted €14 tickets to Neon Western (part rave, part theatre, this highly anticipated collaboration between Cork artists Conflicted Theatre & Peter Power is an immersive experience like no other) are on offer to delegates. Just use the promo code ‘twist’ when booking by phone +353 21 4215159 or online Transport to and from the show at Marina Commercial Park will be available.

Conference venue For the sixth all-island performing arts conference on 21-22 June 2017, the venue is The Everyman, MacCurtain Street, Cork. Check our website for nearby hotel accommodation offers.

Conference 2017 Tickets Early Bird Member Tickets are on offer to Theatre Forum and TheatreNI members until 14 May. (Note your membership must be paid for 2017 to avail of the member rates.) Early Bird Member Ticket (until 14 May) €110 / £93* Standard Member Ticket (from 15 May) €140 / £119* Non Member Ticket €200 / £170*

*Sterling prices are approximate only and the exchange rate at the time of PayPal purchase will apply. Your conference ticket covers access to all conference sessions, lunch on both days as well as the Wednesday evening programme, including dinner. No booking fee applies and remember, you don’t need a Paypal account.

Artist Tickets As in previous years, we’re committed to the conference being accessible to everyone in our sector, especially artists. This year, we are offering 40 individual artist and practitioner tickets to Theatre Forum and TheatreNI members at €65 / £55. If you’d like to book an artist ticket, contact for details. If you have a question about tickets or would prefer to book offline, call us on +353 1 6778779 or email

Contact us with your conference questions.

Theatre Forum Tel +353 1 677 8779 Email @theatreforumie

TheatreNI Tel +44 28 9031 1806 Email @theatre_ni

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