New initiative seeks to develop contemporary theatre output from south-east England

A new three-year initiative called greenhouse has been launched to develop contemporary theatre and its audiences in the south east and east of England. Over three years, greenhouse will invest £420,000 into 30 projects.

The scheme, supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Arts Council England, is being led by house, an organisation which curates and underwrites a programme of around 20 contemporary theatre productions each year for their network more than 125 venues.

This year has seen greenhouse seed-fund ten projects with over £50,000, awarding grants between £3,000 and £8,000 to projects. The ideas put forward for investment had to involve a partnership between a theatre-maker and a venue. The projects chosen for investment were selected by a panel of theatre industry professionals.

The first ten greenhouse projects include: Root Theatre bringing an emerging writer to her home town Gillingham to explore ideas for a new play about the town with the support of new venue LV21; South Street in Reading working with artists based in the town to create a piece for the recently decommissioned Reading Prison; and Take the Space is going to Norden Farm Arts Centre in Maidenhead to work with a boxing club and local Quakers for ideas to develop their new play, White Feather Boxer.

Richard Kingdom, greenhouse project manager says: ‘There’s no shortage of theatre being made, venues to present it or people to see it, and yet theatre-makers struggle to get bookings, programmers tell us that they can’t find suitable work and attracting an audience is everyone’s biggest challenge.

‘This is where greenhouse begins. We are seed-funding new pieces of theatre that respond to the ambitions of the theatre-makers as well as the venues and connect with people that they might ultimately hope to speak to as an audience.’

Leicester Curve launches apprenticeship scheme

Leicester Curve has been awarded £240,000 to launch a three-year apprenticeship scheme. The Paul Hamlyn foundation and Esmee Fairbairn foundation donated money to help The Curve provide apprenticeships for 16-25 year olds living in the Leicestershire area.

Associate director of Leicester Curve,  Adel Al-Salloum said: ‘We are thrilled that our funders have recognised our current success in working in the community and the potential Curve has to develop its work with young and emerging artists. The project is about new ideas and how Curve supports young people to realise their ideas and turn them to enterprise.’

The programme aims to take on 30 young people and provide them with training as art entrepreneurs. They will participate in community projects, involving local schools and the elderly.

Practitioners and a programme manager are yet to be hired for the scheme. Applications for places opened in November, with training set to start in 2012. The apprentices will take their projects into the community in Spring 2012.