Spotlight on Associate and Resident Artists - part 1

13 Oct 2014

The basis of these relationships

You may not know that as an organisation we work closely with a variety of artists and companies via our Resident and Associate scheme. If you were immersed in the buzz around the wonderful production Before I Sleep from Brighton-based theatre company, dreamthinkspeak, in 2010 you would have experienced first hand these relationships working to bring you the very best in creative endeavour.

When Andrew Comben became CEO in 2008 he sought new ways to bring artists closer to the organisation and closer to our audiences. The benefits would be two fold: improving the audience experience and at the same time assisting companies with their own artistic development.

The concept of these relationships plus the guest director initiative began taking shape around the same time, sowing the seeds for today’s Resident Artists and Associate Artists and Companies.

Hofesh Shechter Company - This game-changing dance group led by the multitalented choreographer / musician Hofesh Shechter was one of the first resident companies with us.
Andrew Comben started speaking to Hofesh when he arrived in post in 2008 and the company had also been booked for the Dome autumn season that same year. ‘All the stars were aligning as the company were looking for a place to call their home and they were keen to form a relationship with an organisation. It was an incredibly auspicious start and it has been a real joy to have seen the maturation of the company over the years with the relationship really culminating in Hofesh’s Guest Directorship of the festival this year’ Andrew Comben

Vincent Dance Company - They work across disciplines to produce and tour contemporary, physical dance theatre that challenges conventional values in dance and gender politics. Artistic Director Charlotte Vincent is considered one of the UK’s leading female choreographers, and her distinctive voice extends beyond dance into the wider cultural, political and social landscape as a curator, mentor, writer, mediator, provocateur, facilitator and catalyst for critical debate.

Who we work with

Some arts organisations have a fixed scheme which artists and companies apply to join, but this is not the case here. Brighton Dome & Festival Resident and Associate Artist’s scheme is by nature flexible and fluid with no set rules, mainly because all artists and companies are different. We look carefully at the best fit, seeking artists that have an affinity with the ‘spirit of Brighton’ and share our main objective: to produce great art in our city on the edge.

The relationships begin in different ways too. Perhaps the company has been working with us for a while and we spot a real relationship with the audience developing over time. Or we recognise new work on the horizon and so make an effort to woo its creator to Brighton to become part of the family.

The relationships are also bespoke in terms of length and engagement as we allow them to grow and morph over time. There is no fixed set of criteria on what they should do or how they should develop. For us this is crucial as each relationship is unique and will achieve different outcomes depending on the working style and technique of each individual or company. This bespoke method is explained beautifully by Tristan Sharps, Artistic Director of dreamthinkspeak:

‘it is the real sense of trust in me and the work that I do as an artist – it’s absolutely key and is the cornerstone to any relationship between an artist and a producing organisation … as the relationship is based on trust there is no formal agreement - the organisation just likes the work I do … with this encouragement I am investing honestly and passionately in the process and so will create the very best work I can’

Dreamthinkspeak - Under the helm of Artistic Director Tristan Sharps, this pioneering company has developed an international reputation for creating innovative theatre that takes audiences on extraordinary journeys. Their first of five commissioned pieces for the festival was in 2001 but the relationship really developed and their profile rose in 2010 with a promenade interpretation of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard in the old Co-op building. It broke box office records, playing to some 21,000 people. This was followed by co-commission The Rest is Silence, a dreamlike meditation on Shakespeare's Hamlet, which premiered at Brighton Festival 2012 as part of the World Shakespeare Festival. The company are based with us here in Brighton and Tristan has, on numerous occasions, given talks and lectures on the work for our supporters and patrons.