Clare Reddington shares her excitement about Wise Children and the journey ahead…
In early 2017, I sat down with Emma Rice to talk about her new company and was struck – like everyone else – by her energy, enthusiasm, courage and vision, but I was also wary. “I can’t digital your theatre” I said (I have been there before). “I can’t make you a website or stream your show.” But Emma didn’t want those things – “I am here because you are passionate about Bristol” she said, and she began sharing the Wise Children vision of talent development and cross art form creativity. To be honest she had me at Bristol.
I joined the Wise Children Advisory Group in advance of our application to become an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, with a large amount of joy and the inevitable bid-related trepidation.
Wise Children is a brave and imaginative response to the sector’s need for new ways of working and making – it will have training at its heart and will use embedded residencies to develop and diversify audiences, test a new touring model and investigate the future of creative spaces.
As a mid-scale touring company, Wise Children is a vital addition to the thriving independent theatre sector of the South West. It will bring opportunity and profile to a creative ecology I am passionate about – and it will benefit from the rich work and collaborative nature of the many brilliant artists based here. Of course there will be residencies in London (and around the world) as is appropriate for a company of this scale, but its base will be the bottom left of the UK. A place that Emma and I are both proud to call home.
Our inclusion in Arts Council’s National Portfolio, which begins in April 2018, means more than just cash. It is a vote of confidence in Emma, in the South West and in doing things differently. Taking on the position of Chair of this new company is therefore fantastically exciting and incredibly daunting.
Wise Children brings together a way of working that Emma has been moulding and shaping for years, with the chance to be bold and innovative in company structure, shape and reach. We have an incredible Advisory Group, which has been steered masterfully by David Jubb. Our next task is to assemble a board of wonderful humans that reflect the local AND national scope of the adventure we are about to begin.
Wise Children will be an open, inclusive, engaged member and champion of the South West cultural sector. If you have ideas, questions or comments – feel free to get in touch via Twitter @clarered @wise_children or email our Producer email@example.com
Clare Reddington is Creative Director of Watershed, a Visiting Professor at University of West of England and a member of Theatre Bristol’s Board.