Driving change within England’s leading performing arts companies
Before beginning, each organisation was asked to write a question they wanted to explore over the duration of the programme. This was to give each organisation a targeted and focused starting point for their investigation and, following that, a way of helping them stay on track over the subsequent six months. After deciding on their question, Tonic worked with each organisation to help them break it down into manageable chunks, and to plan and carry out their approach to answering it.
Step 1. Investigation
This step centred on the area of focus the organisations selected for themselves via their question. Tonic conducted investigations on their behalf, examining how things wereworking at the time, and sought to understand where barriers to women existed. Tonic then shared their findings with the organisations.
This step was about the organisations enhancing their own understanding and asking ‘why’; it was about them questioning their own thinking and that of others, and about exposing themselves to perspectives and information that may previously have been off their radar. Over all, it was about them being reflective and listening to others, not about them leading or needing to come up with solutions; that would come in Step Two.
Step 2. Innovation
Based on the findings of the investigation, the organisations explored and considered alternative or supplementary ways of working which would go some way towards removing the barriers they had identified.
This step was about dreaming up new ways of doing things, and of challenging existing preconceptions and the ‘but we’ve always done it this way’ approach. At the same time, any new approaches had to be achievable, realistic, and deliverable within the organisations’ already busy schedules and programmes of work.
Step 3. Action Plans
By the conclusion of Step Two, the organisations had identified a range of new actions they would like to implement and each produced an action plan outlining steps towards making this happen. These action plans covered a range of approaches. Some were:
- small and time-limited, others were big and long-lasting.
- designed to achieve impact in one organisation, others to drive change across the wider industry.
- focused on the operational or ‘nuts and bolts’ side of how the organisation runs, others focused on artistic output or the creation of new artistic work.
Who Was Involved
2014 Advance cohort
2016 Advance cohort
Watch Advance participants speak about their experience of the programme.
Erica Whyman, Deputy Artistic Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company, speaking in 2014.
Alison Porter, Executive Producer and Michael Duffy, Communications Manager at Mahogany Opera Group, speaking in 2016.
Find out more
View or download an archive of the Advance website tonictheatre-advance.co.uk, which was available online between 2014 and 2022. The archive is available in PDF format (13Mb).