I googled the title of this post as a quote, because I thought someone clever had previously coined it (or something similar). Google reckons Nelson Mandela and Michelle Obama have both said something along these lines and, I realise now, it also paraphrases Dumbledore on House Elves but, anyway, that’s a fairly major digression from what I actually wanted to write in this post, which was:
If you want to get a measure of a city, look at how it treats its emerging artists…
When Talking Birds was a young, emerging company (over 20 years ago – eek!), we always found it completely brilliant, if continually mystifying, when people gave us a bit of money towards devising a show, or offered us some space in a theatre (or tent or museum or geodesic dome) to put it in front of a paying audience. And then if people (especially people we didn’t know) came to see it, that was absolutely the icing on the cake*. There’s something about being offered a bit of money to make something, and a space to show what you’ve made, that gives you confidence in what you are doing (as well as, obviously, allowing you to get better at doing it). If you aren’t someone who makes things, you might find that hard to believe, but I think it holds true that most of us who make things are ever so slightly surprised and grateful when other people believe in us – because it’s often that belief that allows us to believe in ourselves, which allows us to keep working at it, and to get better.
Talking Birds, Theatre Absolute and others are living proof that Coventry has a noble history of treating its young people – its emerging artists – well. There are two really good examples of this coming up next week – and the real purpose of this post is to encourage you to give the young, emerging artists the boost of turning up and watching them perform. If that makes it sound like we’re saying you should patronise and indulge them, then you are either wilfully misunderstanding this post, or (more likely) we’ve just written it really badly. This is absolutely not meant to be about patronising anybody – a friendly, supportive audience will give the performers belief in themselves, yes, but in return for your attendance you’ll get to see some surprising, thought-provoking, committed, skilled, energetic (and energising) young people perform – and perhaps most importantly you’ll experience a fresh perspective on all kinds of things they put before you as you explore their ideas and see the world through their eyes.
Rise by the Belgrade Young Company – a kind of all-girl road movie (see pic above) – is on 13th-18th in B2 at the Belgrade Theatre and Shoot Festival showcases the best of Cov & Warwickshire’s emerging talent with a triple bill on the Friday evening in B2, and an ecelectic day of theatre and music at the Shop Front Theatre and in Shelton Square on Saturday 18th.
We highly recommend them all – treat yourself, and get in at the start of something.
*In the early 90s, Talking Birds was one of a number of young Coventry companies to benefit from the opportunity of a small annual commission from the Arts Alive Festival. These supported commissions encouraged us to learn through doing, forging deep bonds with the city – meaning that we are still making work in Coventry 25 years later and constantly looking for meaningful ways to pay that early investment forward.