Where I Am Now, by Ayla Huseyinoglu, June 2020

We have been catching up with some of the people we’ve worked with in the past, hope you enjoy this series as much as we’ve done creating it. 🙂

“I got involved with Luxi’s projects when I was 14, and met Caroline and various other wonderful people. I’d had an interest in theatre from a performance perspective but Jabberwocky Market made me realise how much was involved behind the scenes, and how interesting it can be to be involved in that side of things. Jabberwocky Markets were the first time that I dipped my toe in this behind the scenes work. I remember walking around Darlington town centre with another member of the team who was dressed in a tent, helping to paint the Jabbervan, chairing a panel discussion about theatre and going out and doing face-to-face marketing by chatting to people. When I went to university in Manchester in 2015, I loved looking through Jabberwocky’s social media pages and seeing how well the events were doing. It brought something really great to the arts world in the north east.” 

“In terms of where I am now, I’m at a crossroads. I graduated last year from the University of Manchester in Politics and History, and have been working as the Women’s Officer at the Students’ Union, after being elected to the post when I was in my final year. It’s been a crazy, wonderful five years in Manchester; I’ve really become the person I am today. However, I’m writing this from my home in County Durham. It was sad to leave Manchester under lockdown, without saying goodbye to the friends I’ve made and places I love. I’m looking forward to the next chapter though (hopefully a Master’s in Public Policy). 

I learned about feminism and its importance as a student, which is what inspired me to take the job as Women’s Officer. However it’s only in the past year, since I’ve been in post, that I have realised how important it is for feminism to be intersectional. This week, when I’m writing this, that means supporting Black Lives Matter. I couldn’t in good conscience write a blog post and not mention this. As a white person, I am not going to reiterate what black people have been saying for years but I am going to encourage readers to research, educate themselves and use their agency to take action to stand up to racism by writing to MPs, donating and calling out racism.

Thank you so much for having me on the blog, and for reading!”

For more about Ayla Huseyinoglu, check her LinkedIn 

Community & Collaboration by Leila d’Aronville, April 2020

Leila set up a new community in the form of a facebook page called Tyne and Wear Cultural Freelancers in March 2020, it was received like hot cakes. Here she talks about how and why and what.

“So, this is my first blog – and it was originally written before CV-19 took hold of us all in such a life changing way. I have edited it slightly to be more relevant to the current situation, although most of what it says is relevant today…in fact it is more relevant in some ways! 

 I am starting the first of my blogs off looking at the network and community which we have created together, exploring how and why it is so successful and also exploring my own journey over the last 12 months.

Firstly it might be worth giving a small amount of info about me! I worked for one of the biggest NPOs in the North East for a lot of years, 12 to be exact. That 12 years at Sage Gateshead helped me grow professionally and personally and developed my professional network exponentially. I started in the communications team, but went on to run strategic projects across the region and the country. I left 5 years ago, and have been working freelance ever since – in that time I have had the privilege to work on some truly special projects.

It might also be worth saying that I grew up in a cultural freelancer household with my mother working as a jobbing actor in the North East – a job which she is still doing.

My career has usually been about firsts, as well as being about connecting people and extending and connecting networks.

During my time working for Sing Up – the National Singing Campaign, I was able to test out the idea and usefulness of networks; exploring expectations, purpose, participation and momentum. Moving to the Bridge North East team (not Culture Bridge) meant I was once again in a privileged position to explore and test networks. One of my most positive and successful experiences here was the development of the Sunderland Learning Network, which was set up in partnership with my wonderful colleague Helen Connify.

So, jumping forward to now. A little over 12 years since setting up TWCF. People have recently asked why I think the network works, and I have flippantly talk about it being a happy accident whilst having a glass of wine one Thursday night.

These things are technically true, but the network was formed and based on my extensive experience of testing and developing useful and successful networks.

I recently re-read David Price’s Open; as well as Clay Shirkey’s book on cognitive surplus. David talks about global learning communities and the fact that effective networks are built on 3 main principles; Participation, Passion and Purpose.

If we translate that into TWCF, what do we get?

PARTICPATION

David talks about participation and engagement being essential to a global learning community, and the fact hierarchy gets in the way of collaboration.

In relation to the community of TWCF; the network has always been about the members. Without their/your participation the group would be stagnant. Don’t get me wrong, Caroline and I spend a lot of time and energy making sure people feel supported and able to engage, and the network was set up with collaboration at its heart…but the membership is keeping that going and making sure the online community is all about supporting each other in which ever way they need – being agile and flex to what that is.

PASSION

I don’t think I really need to explain this one! We are all doing what we’re doing because we are passionate…and when we are challenged by the conditions we’re working in and we realise others feel the same, the passion is tenfold.

PURPOSE

The group was set up with purpose! The purpose of relevance. We are collective group with several things in common: the cultural sector; freelance / independent; Tyne and Wear.
The rule is anything posted needs to be relevant. Individuals have been unbelievably good at sticking to that rule! It means the group has clear purpose and has remained relevant.

We have been able to shout with a collective voice – we have been in a position to sit at the table with other loud voices. The experience and network of the members mean our reach is far and high. For once, the grass roots in the North East seems to be gaining and voice.

This is important anyway, but this is especially important right now. We are in the midst of a life changing global experience – and the other side is going to look different. It is up to us to make sure that different is as positive as possible for us!

We are in the process of making the model of TWCF sustainable, building capacity to run it as well as providing opportunities for us to pay other people to work alongside us on pieces of work.

On the other side of CV-19 our sector will still need us, we will still be the makers, the producers, the crafters and the grafters. In the NE freelancers (did) make up over 50% of the creative sector – it is time we use our collective power to ensure a better deal for ourselves! Being a freelancer or an independent organisation is a choice for most of us, which brings with it many positives and some serious negatives, which have been highlighted by the current situation. We should not be in such a precarious position. On the flip side, the funded part of the sector will need us more than ever. We are used to adapting and flexing to the situation; building businesses from the ground and working in a precarious environment – being creative and entrepreneurial! It isn’t about an us and them situation, quite the opposite. It is about creating equity between funded and independent, with an understanding of our value and worth across the sector. I truly believe we need to rebuild this together! “

Visit Tyne and Wear Cultural Freelancers on facebook or the new website https://culturalfreelancers.wordpress.com 

In Conversation: Room for More, Oct 2018

Featuring Miriam Sherwood and Thom Andrewes from the show Rendezvous in Bratislava, and Jade Byrne, associate artist and creator of Pricks, chaired by Kerami Roberts; taking place at Polam School’s Liddiard Theatre foyer.

In Conversation: Play, Oct 2017

Featuring artists Kirsty Harris and Hazel Anderson, Ed Patrick aka Kid Carpet and chaired by Miranda Thain of Theatre Hullabaloo; taking place in Paines Plough’s Roundabout venue, on location in Darlington’s market square.

In Conversation: Truth & Compassion, Oct 2016

Featuring artists Kirsten Luckins, Joe Sellman-Leava, Rhiannon Armstrong, Conrad Murray and Will Taylor, chaired by Steve Gilroy of Northumbria University and Live Theatre; taking place in Polam School’s Liddiard Theatre.

In Conversation: World Class, Oct 2015

Featuring business leader Haani Hasnain, Bill Vince from Arts Council England, Battersea Arts Centre’s David Jubb and chaired by renowned writer and thinker, Maddy Costa; taking place in Be Premiere hair salon.

In Conversation: touring, April 2015

In spring 2015 we had another discussion event on the topic of Touring and how great that is for the artists who do it and the audiences around the country, featuring director Amy Golding, producer Katie Duffy, performer Adam Farrell and director Nel Crouch, with chair Ayla Huseyinoglu; unfortunately the recording was lost but it looked like this, taking place in Voodoo Cafe.

In Conversation: on social conflict, Oct 2014

How Social Conflict Affects the Development of Theatre, featuring Nir Paldi from Theatre Ad Infinitum with artist Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh and chaired by Stella Hall, Director of Festival of Thrift; taking place in Voodoo Cafe, Darlington.

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In Conversation: the power of personal stories, March 2014

Featuring artists Will Dickie, Jo Hellier, John Berkavitch with chair Lynda Winstanley, Director of Darlington Civic Theatre; taking place in the Conservatory Bar of the Civic Theatre.

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In Conversation: Epic in the Everyday, Oct 2013

Featuring Leandra Ashton and Marta Isabella Rizi from Flying Cloud Theatre, Jessica Latowicki and Christopher Brett Bailey from Made in China Theatre, chaired by Katy Milne, Director of Greenfield Arts; took place in the cafe in Darlington’s famous indoor market.

Theatre Uncut, by Daniel Bye, November 2012

“In last year’s Theatre Uncut I curated an evening at the Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton, and had an absolute blast directing David Greig’s Fragile, which had the entire audience playing one of the parts in a two-hander. In the closing moments, en masse, the audience found themselves chanting “this situation is all fucked up and it has to change”. Tremendous fun, totally outrageous and devastatingly effective. David Greig is one of the foremost playwrights in the world, and for him to contribute a one-off short to something like Theatre Uncut demonstrates how substantial the event was even then, in its first incarnation.

 

Other playwrights (last year and this) include Dennis Kelly, Mark Ravenhill and Neil LaBute. It’s a hell of a roll-call. And what unifies them is anger: at the Government’s response to the economic crisis, at their punishment of the poor and the vulnerable for the crimes of the super-rich, at their ignoring of a growing environmental catastrophe and the many lessons of history, at their sheer maddening stupid venality. They – we – are bloody furious. Fury makes for phenomenal, galvanising art. Think Guernica. Think Mother Courage and Her Children. Think Cathy Come Home.

The onstage role in Fragile was played in last year’s Edinburgh Theatre Uncut by Kieran Hurley, who wrote the piece I’m directing for this year’s event, London 2012: Glasgow. You may not of heard of Kieran, but he’s a bit of an emerging megastar north of the border. His show Beats was named Best Play at this year’s Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland, and when his Theatre Uncut play was first read at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, Phill Jupitus played one of the parts. His show Hitch is one of the most beautiful, heartfelt and downright enjoyable things I’ve ever seen in a theatre – made all the more meaningful by its subject-matter, Kieran’s own hitch-hike to the G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy.

His Theatre Uncut play London 2012: Glasgow is a brilliant, scabrous satirical romp through some of the politics of national self-presentation (and self-preservation) that made this year’s Olympics, however thrilling the sporting spectacle, a nauseating exercise in the manufacture of corporatist ideology. It superbly nails the puerile metropolitan pomposity behind that massive branding project. Sure, London had a lot to be proud of (although I don’t know that Kieran necessarily agrees). But it also had loads to be ashamed of. That pomposity, that shame, are balloons delightfully popped by Kieran’s wicked satirical play.

What Fragile, London 2012: Glasgow and many of the other Theatre Uncut plays from both years share is a remarkable ability to distill their justified anger into something that gives tremendous artistic pleasure. And it does so while absolutely communicating that anger. You have to go along to your nearest Theatre Uncut event. You might even want to get involved. This situation is all fucked up, and it has to change. So be part of that change.” – Daniel Bye

Theatre Uncut events are taking place across the world from 12-18 November 2012