Questions and Answers

Responses to some questions put to us by Lucia Hogg.

How Nottingham-focused is it, is this important to the concept?
Certainly to begin with Hatch is likely to be very Nottingham-focused, as much out of necessity as anything else. In practical terms, most of the people we know and are likely to perform are based here. We’ll cast our nets wider as we develop (and even now we’d be as welcoming as we possibly could to anyone from outside the region who wanted to be involved), but conceptually this is something we want to be rooted in Nottingham, and particularly in the city centre, as we think there’s a niche here for this kind of project.

What similar programmes already exist?
There are quite a few showcase evenings and scratch nights and suchlike around and we’re currently looking into other local examples and how they operate. We don’t just want to put on these sorts of events though. The idea is that in between the quarterly showcase events we’d be putting on one-off performances, full productions and special events in various locations. I think there are fewer examples of that sort of model (possibly because it’s somewhat over-ambitious?) and in Nottingham there’s none that we’re aware of.

How does it aim to engage with the national circuit?
We would hope to make links with other groups and individuals pursuing similar aims in other places and through that to help Notts-based performers develop a national profile by travelling that circuit whilst also bringing performers to Nottingham to show their work here. That may be some way off yet though.

How will collaborations work? Will you actively put people together and set provocations or will it be more about informal networking?
Both. In the showcase events we’ll be programming different performers and types of performance in the same space and creating juxtapositions which will hopefully develop into informal networking once we all head to the bar afterwards. We’ll also be identifying like-minded but differently-skilled performers and performance-y people to collaborate together on specific projects. Some of those may be projects we as the yolk come up with ourselves and some will be projects people approach us with which we help to make happen.

What will artists really get out of performing on this platform? Who is likely to want to showcase? Do you want to attract more established companies, and in which case what do you offer them, or is it more likely to be people at the beginning of their careers?
Again, it’s a bit of both. For people at the beginning of their careers we’d offer space to perform, a supportive audience, logistical and practical support in helping them realise their ideas and the opportunity to meet and possibly collaborate with a community of other performers. The community aspect is also something we can offer to more established artists, as well as a framework to try out new ideas in a low-risk environment and an opportunity to be part of events which work in different ways to their normal practice. As we become more established ourselves, the quality of the support we are able to offer will improve and ultimately of course we’d hope to be in a position of producing work, offering commissions, being an important cultural meeting point and helping everybody get paid (though bear in mind that an important part of the Hatchifesto is that this is for people who don’t make the work for the money because there is no money).

If it’s about emerging artists as well as emerging ideas, how will you structure the level of engagement and debate about the work they present? With new artists I think this is particularly important…
I agree, although we haven’t yet identified the best way for people to give feedback to the performers (or us, for that matter). A couple of things we have thought are a) it’s important that there are several different ways, opportunities and times that we invite audience responses and b) it would be good if we could come up with some interesting or innovative ways of structuring this, especially ones that are able to pitch themselves somewhere between, for example, a formal question and answer session and an informal discussion in the pub.

What about a partner venue or venues? How would you feel about Hatch being associated with any one arts organisation?
There aren’t really any arts organisations that we wouldn’t want to be associated with, but if it ended up that there was just one organisation that we were seen to be closely linked to that might be a problem. Conceptually the way we see this is that the whole of the city centre is our venue and any building or space in the city is a potential studio space. It’s really important that we do develop partnerships with other organisations and venues, but equally that Hatch is presented more as a theatre without a building, an organistaion in itself, rather than just an event which usually happens in the same place.

Where do you want the concept to sit artistically, more Dance 4 or Lakeside Arts Centre? Are you going for academic or more mainstream rep/new writing theatre? I’m not saying it should be either but it’s something you need to consider as in Nottingham particularly I always get a sense of incrowd and outcrowd…
We want to be a broad church. Artistically everything can be considered and nothing is forbidden. I suppose though, without wanting to define it ourselves, the way we’d want other people to see it is probably ‘experimental’. Not that this means everything we do has to be massively avant-garde, but we do want to provide a safe space for people to stretch themselves, to try out new ideas and new ways of working. We’re more at the rough-and-tumble, held-together-with-glue-and-bits-of-string end of the medium, as opposed to the professional finish you might expect at say, Lakeside or the Playhouse, even if ‘held together with glue and bits of string’ is sometimes more of an attitude than a material reality.

‘Incrowd and outcrowd’ is interesting. We’re probably more outcrowd. We want to be cool without excluding anybody, if that’s possible. We want to try and provide a focal point for a coalition of performers and interested parties without it becoming an impenetrable clique. Whilst the idea at the moment is that the showcase events won’t be totally open access we do want to remove as many of the barriers stopping people from being able to perform as we can – in a way that’s kind of the whole point. I guess that means it’s important that if there is anyone we turn down initially, we work hard to help them get to a point where if they make another proposal we’re able to accept it.

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