02 Feb 2016

Crossing the Threshold

The Doorstep Arts team is in the midst of some big transitions at the moment. Some of those are physical and little and some of those are strategic and huge (like hearing that Arts Council England has approved 1.2 millions pounds to support the Collaborative Touring Network for another three years – wahoo!).

Stepping over a threshold into a new space is scary and wonderful at the same time – there is a fear of the unknown, and a small wry sadness at saying goodbye to the old familiar comfortable space you’re leaving behind.  The smell of the familiar, the worn corners of a way of working which is accustomed, faded… ours through the making.

The Doorstep team are in need of an office. This need is becoming pressing.

For three years now, we’ve met at our various houses – in front rooms, over kitchen tables, often with children playing in the next room, or in-between school runs. As three mums who also run an arts organisation, this has fitted into our busy and scattered lives in a very organic way. But increasingly, we are finding that we’ve outgrown this way of working…both in terms of capacity, and in terms of head space.

This month, we’re delivering about six different projects… we have professional artists working in 12 secondary schools as part of the RAW Outreach programme, delivering free devised theatre workshops to drama classes. We have dance artists working in transition-aged classrooms, with year 6 & 7 students, doing breakdance and contemporary dance as part of our Dance on Your Doorstep Community Platform, funded by Awards for All. We are making a radio play alongside Sound Communities with one our drama groups. We’re beginning the Geo-Opera in collaboration with Mark Laville, Hugh Nankivell, Steve Sowden, and a host of other talented and amazing artists.  We are delivering the Chin-Up Project with Prom Prom. We are continuing to run the People’s Health Trust-funded Pips drama club at the Acorn Centre, getting ready to go into artistic residence at the Palace Theatre in Paignton, and all the time, running our other six weekly drama groups (which are all growing!) and producing the Doorstep Theatre Festival for April 2016.

It’s safe to say that we’re stretched.

It’s a good stretch.

It’s like elastic – we’re doing a lot of good stuff, and it’s all purposeful, and useful, and needed. But a good stretch can quickly become a strain if you’re not careful. You have to pay attention to the twinge that says ‘enough now’ – and know when to respond to it.

As mothers, and feminists, and creatives, it’s important to honour and respect our family, domestic and personal space – our daily lives, and preserve them from the bombardment of work, which can ping and ding at any time of the day with email, text, tweets, etc.

It’s somewhat overwhelming when you work in the arts, and part of our goal over the next few months as we cross the threshold into our new space, both literal and metaphorical, is to preserve our quiet space and time. To hold it sacred and precious, and not let it be disturbed.

Or at least to find a balance that works for each of us – and that’s different for each person.

So for us, this minute, that means we’re working toward taking up an office (even though that’s scary!) and it means that we’re trying to get some more core funding in, to help pay ourselves for the hours of time we put in for free.

We’re building some walls between the ‘Work’ of running this organisation and our ‘Lives’ which have made its birth and inception possible. This is sort of bittersweet – it’s like watching a child grow up… looking forward to who they are going to be, but sort of mourning the loss of the babyhood, its innocence, excitement and newness.

We’re standing in the doorway, anyway.

Expect pictures soon of the new office (we’re very excited, Meg is choosing colours for the walls and there are plans involving pallet furniture) and expect lots of exciting updates as strategic plans unfold over the next few months too.

Thanks for being with us on this journey.