It was right after AskACurator Day in September when I was chatting with Matt Caines from Guardian Cultural Professional Network. He mentioned theatres were going to be going through a rough patch. I immediately said ‘What can we (CultureThemes) do to help?’ I suggested I could run a #LoveTheatre Day to give people a chance to talk about their love of theatre. Matt said he was willing to support it. Great!
Next up was to convince TwitterUK to support the initiative. I worked with them on the incredibly popular #MuseumWeek initiative so thought they would be up for it. Not only were they very supportive, they even offer to help with running a webinar for theatres that might not be used to Twitter as a platform.
The three of us met up and worked out how to go about making the day painless for the theatres while exciting for the public.
Now it might seem unlikely that someone who hasn’t been to many productions would be involved in this initiative but to me theatres and museums/galleries are very similar. Both have the stigmatism (right or wrong) of only being for ‘certain people’. I’m just going to use the word elitism and get it over with. It’s not right, but that is how the general public sees it and you really can’t tell everyone they’re wrong.
You can, however, prove that there is a spark in everyone for theatre (or museums) but giving them a platform to share their memory or something they saw/did while at a production or even better, involved in one.
Taking this concept, Matt, TwitterUK and I devised a day-long program that we hope will allow everyone at some point to get involved.
How #LoveTheatre Day Works
Throughout the day, we encourage everyone to tweet using #LoveTheatre and say why they love theatres. This is open for the general public of course but I want people who have been (or are in) am dram productions to also tweet. I also asked museums and galleries to share their collection that is theatre related and publishers to share books related to theatres.
During the day, we have 3 sub-hashtags:
#BackStage (10am-12pm) will offer audiences and other arts professionals a glimpse into how a production comes together in the weeks and months leading up to the big night.
• #AskATheatre (3-5pm) will offer a unique opportunity for theatre aficionados and aspiring actors to hear first-hand from the individuals and groups that make the magic happen.
• #Showtime (7-10pm) will give those who can’t make it to a theatre the chance to sit in the “virtual stalls” to experience the a performance, or several, via Twitter.
The most important message for me is, like museums, theatres do SO much within their community that goes un-noticed. With further cuts looming, lets highlight all the brilliant work that is done outside of the 2 hours show. Theatres worldwide work with kids, teens, adults and older generation. The community outreach is amazing. I personally know that Wolverhampton Grand Theatre works with Wolverhampton College creative arts department – not just with performing art students but with music, sound and lighting technicians. They offer £5 tickets to students. They run workshop for others who want to get involved with drama but can’t commit to a full production.
This has turned into an international event with theatres in Prague, US, Canada, Chile and more signing up. Just proves how many worldwide #LoveTheatre! See full list here.
Let’s make November 19th #LoveTheatre a Day for everyone to remember!