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Stepping Back, Taking the Plunge and Making Space

by Catrin Evans



I've been trying to write this reflective piece for months. From the minute I took the

decision to accept the role of Head of Creative Learning at The Citizens Theatre, I knew my

relationship with A Moment's Peace was going to have to change. This was something I had

perhaps quietly been thinking would happen at some point, given that I'd been running it

since it was formed in 2004 (when I was still at Uni) but even still the thought of things

actually changing felt quite shocking, and if I'm honest, pretty scary.


For anyone who knows me, they'll know that AMP is an important part of my life - and my

identity both as an artist and a plain old human. In forming it, I have been formed.


In working through the joys and difficulties of running a small company I have developed my

knowledge and opinions of the industry, of participatory practice, and of the kind of work I

want to make and support others to make. In collaborating with all the incredible people I

have worked with across so many projects I have been humbled, politicised and my critical

consciousness has been sharpened.


I have lived all the things that are tough about being a small, artist-led, independent, non-

core funded organisation, but my life has been enriched by running A Moment's Peace. It

has given me a platform to make work on my own terms, centring the process as being as

politicised as the product, rejecting ideas of the artist as saviour and instead working with

collaborative performance practice as a form of community solidarity.


For all these reasons, untangling myself from AMP (though not entirely as I am still an

Associate Artist) has been emotional to say the least.


BUT, and the but is why I am sharing any of this, I think (I hope) that across the life of the

organisation we have carved out a reputation with those we engage with that is built on

trust, ethical rigour, and a commitment to making honest, beautiful and forceful

performance work. Moreover, for a long time AMP has not just been my thing: over the last

18 months AMP has focused almost exclusively on developing the creative life of our two

regular groups, Women's Creative Company and Shared Space; and over the last five or six

years I have done less and less of the direct delivery. Instead, I have focused on supporting

participants, artists and producers to lead on projects and as much as possible to guide the

direction of where the work will go next.


In fact, not long before Covid-19 appeared in our lives I had started a discussion with the

board about 'succession planning' - a grand phrase for an organisation the size of AMP, but I

wanted us to think rigorously about whether there could be a model by which the AMP

could be run by one other or multiple artists, with me at first and then probably without.

This would almost certainly have formed the basis of an RFO application. Covid curtailed

that thinking to begin with as we went into survival mode. That was pretty brutal at first, but

over time it blossomed into a series of enriching distanced projects with our group members

that continues today. Importantly, these projects have enabled the building of our current

incredible team - who I feel so honoured have chosen to work with AMP during this time.


So when the Citizens position came around I didn't want to capitulate to the idea that AMP

was me and I was AMP and so therefore the organisation could not go on. I wanted to find a

way for another practitioner to have the joyous experience of working with our inspiring

Company Producer Sara Marshall and the rest of the extraordinary team. I wanted someone

else to engage, listen and respond to the equally inspiring individuals who form our groups

and I guess I wanted someone to have the chance to run an organisation that they didn't

have to set up with their own blood, sweat and tears! Of course, I also knew that as a non-

RFO this would be a difficult thing to make possible.


I set my mind to fundraising - with support from the mighty Trufflepig - and focused on trying to secure some core funding that would at least help make this an option. And in a stroke of (very unindustry-like) luck, in my last few months as Artistic Director, things started to align and now we are in the exciting position of recruiting a new AD. It is fixed-term for 18 months, which is still short-term, but is, especially in this time and given the scale of the organisation, a unique and strong position to be in. I feel really proud of the work I have done to get to this point, and intrigued to see who has been excited enough to throw their hat in the ring.


Is it a scary prospect, handing over my 18-year labour of love to someone else? Yes, of

course it is! I feel such a weight in this moment, that connects to what will become of the

organisation.


I don't want to sound too dramatic, as I will still be very much connected, but of course I also feel the weight of my own steps as I move into a whole new chapter, one I hope can contribute to the changing landscape of the sector. But I don't want this weight to stop me from attempting to do a the small bit of power-sharing that I feel placed to do. One of my career bugbears is that there is so little space for multiple or different trajectories in our industry, for individuals or organisations. There is no vision for how we, within our cultural ecology can enable transition, growth and change. And so, I hope this opportunity can be a small contribution to shifting that thinking, and can at the very least be a chance for someone else to form and be formed.


With a week to go till the deadline, I thought I would try to articulate where this advert

stands within the context of the organisation, and to open up a discussion if anyone would like. So please join me, and ask any questions you may have, on Thursday 26 August at 1pm, where I will be going live via our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AMPTheatreCompany


Though only a few days before the deadline, I hope this still might be a chance for folk to ask questions and reflect on taking the leap to apply.






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