Spotlight on Associate and Resident Artists - part 2

13 Oct 2014

What the audience gains

As a performing arts organisation the audience is at the heart and we focus our attention on providing the best possible experience. Where artists appear again and again this triggers a particular relationship with an audience and the connection formed is a special one.

This familiarity between artist and audience is hopefully a two way street. Whenever we bring back a Resident or Associate Artist there is a sense of mutual investment and warmth. The audience really wants it to work which in turn means the artist feels more confident and able to take risks. They may test new work that they probably wouldn’t dare to try elsewhere and for us that’s exciting and potent. By us helping to foster an element of freedom, each company will work to their strengths and ultimately the audience will witness the very best work that can be created.

The performances are only part of the picture; these relationships bring added value in the form of workshops run by our Creative Learning team, exclusive events for our members and patrons or specially commissioned community pieces as part of our event programme.

We commissioned two performances from Hofesh Shechter Company in 2009, including Bangers and Mash - a piece which involved 200 young dancers and musicians from across the region delivering a large scale exclusive performance on Brighton seafront. This was a free event open to everyone.  

Britten Sinfonia - This internationally acclaimed ensemble launched its opening season as Brighton Dome & Festival’s resident chamber orchestra with Sir Mark Elder conducting Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ at the Concert Hall in December 2011. Brighton Festival 2012 saw a triple Sinfonia bill: a full-scale evening of Mahler and Schubert works with fine tenor Roderick Williams; an exclusive concert performance of Sir Michael Tippett’s opera King Priam; and Tweet, Chirp and Flap, an interactive workshop/concert performance for young children and their families.

Blast Theory - A Brighton-based and wonderfully experimental, cutting edge digital collective. Productions include Rider Spoke in 2008, which asked audiences to saddle up and pedal across the city as part of an intimate audio installation; and A Machine to See With in 2011, which placed participants in the heat of an unfolding heist drama using mobile phone technology.

What has been the impact?

The impact of these relationships is hard to quantify but can culminate - through a ripple effect - in a wider reach and the dissemination of work.

We often collaborate with companies on the development of a new piece and help secure partners. Consequently some extraordinary work has been made and seen here. Shows have also travelled as far a-field as Holland, Australia and the States.

There’s nothing quite like working with an artist over a period of time and for our staff team to develop a fluency in the language of a particular company. This can lead to special encounters and surprising moments, for instance the whole back stage team greeting companies like long lost friends. This is something that could never have been written down in a proposal or even considered but it’s wonderful when it happens and is a result of this liberating process.   

Hydrocracker - Hydrocracker produces site-specific theatre, creating unique performances in unusual spaces. We have a longstanding relationship with the locally based company, particularly around the festival programme. You may recall with fondness, the madcap production of Erpingham Camp on the pier in 2009 or the powerful and thought-provoking production of Harold Pinter’s The New World Order in 2007 and again in 2011. They remain a firm favourite amongst many supporters. Recently they have been developing stronger links with our creative learning team and offer master classes as part for their youth theatre project Firecracker.

we are a small independent theatre company who has good ideas – unless we have partnerships those ideas remain in the pub – great fun but nothing happens - so the relationship makes good ideas real’ Jem Wall, Hydrocracker

Heath Quartet - Brighton Dome’s resident string quartet is an exciting and original voice on the international chamber music scene. Since making its Brighton Festival debut in 2010, this multi-award-winning ensemble has graced Brighton Dome's stages on numerous occasions. Heath Quartet returned to the festival in 2011 for a specially commissioned TS Eliot Four Quartets concert as part of Aung San Suu Kyi’s curatorial programme and they regularly feature in Brighton Festival’s lunchtime concert series and Brighton Dome's Coffee Concerts.

A few years ago and in conjunction with our Creative Learning team, they also took the brave step of working with a young hard rock metal band, This is Massacre, and spent a few days improvising - facilitated by an animateur - to create an original piece of work which was performed to an invited audience. This is an example of how two widely different disciplines can come together to experiment and learn from each other.

And an additional outcome from this project was the young singer of the band, who also took part in an earlier Rock Shop with us, went on to be part of Source New Music and then to play as part of Hofesh Shechter Bangers and Mash in 2009. This example of progression and involvement is what we hope to encourage.

The future

As our Dome & Festival programme is all about presenting a wide range of artistic experience, we work across genres and look for artists who are prepared to blur those boundaries as well. We are always seeking out new artists and companies and there are very exciting relationships emerging from those who have performed recently with us. There are exciting prospects ahead so watch this space…

We have podcasts of full interviews to complement this piece which will be on our website shortly:

Andrew Comben, Brighton Dome & Festival
Tristan Sharps, dreamthinkspeak
Jem Wall, Hydrocracker