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STAMP, a network of over 20 London-based theatre organisations, launches

Theatre news

OVER 20 London-based theatres and theatre organisations, including The Old Vic, Shoreditch Town Hall, Battersea Arts Centre, The Yard and many more, have come together to launch STAMP (Supporting Theatre and Makers of Performance), a network dedicated to improving support for artists and advocating for the role of theatre and theatre makers in London.

STAMP has been formed to realise practical collective action to achieve this, from publishing a programming database for London venues, to implementing a series of events for producers and artists.

By increasing dialogue between member organisations and artists, STAMP aims to improve the shared knowledge and working practices of the sector. The network will also lobby decision makers to improve living and working conditions, ensuring London continues to be the home for visionary artists and ground breaking new theatre at a time of economic and political uncertainty.

Member organisations range from publicly funded theatre buildings such as the National Theatre and the Barbican through to smaller scale companies such as Penned in the Margins and Yellow Earth, and are based across inner and outer London.

STAMP members are bound by their work – producing and programming artists who make new theatre and performance – and by their commitment to finding ways to improve the ways they work to support artists. STAMP members meet bi-monthly and communicate through an online forum to share news and plan collective action.

The network was established in 2016 following Arts Council funded research into the experiences of emerging theatre makers, undertaken by Dr Hannah Nicklin on behalf of Camden People’s Theatre, which indicated the need for greater dialogue between London theatre organisations with artist support programmes. The network is inspired by similar models elsewhere in the country, such as Venues North.

Research is currently being undertaken into ways to improve access to available rehearsal space across the network; commissioning models to enhance collaboration rather than competition; and an academic study into the living and working conditions for London-based theatre artists. The programming database, which lists information about how each STAMP organisation programmes work and develops artists, including how artists should get in touch, will shortly be available on the website (www.londonstamp.co.uk/).

Paula Varjack, artist, said: “As the climate for arts funding grows more uncertain, it is more important than ever for collaborative practice between organisations, in order to support each other and the artists they programme. I am thrilled to hear about STAMP. It is exactly what is needed to better facilitate access to opportunities for artists in London, and for those outside of London who want to work here too. I look forward to seeing how it develops.”

Brian Logan, Artistic Director, Camden People’s Theatre, said: “In person, and via research we commissioned in 2014, CPT artists told us loudly and clearly that they wanted joined-up thinking, transparency and collaboration between London venues and artist support programmes. STAMP is the result, and we’re thrilled it’s happening. Alongside our partner organisations, we at CPT are dedicated to ensuring STAMP makes London a more accommodating, easy-to-navigate and creative landscape for artists making new theatre and performance.”

And Kate Varah, Executive Director, The Old Vic, said: “We are delighted to be a part of the STAMP network, which will enhance our capacity to support a wide range of artists and artistic organisations beyond The Old Vic’s walls. Creating a nurturing and supportive environment for all theatre makers to explore and create new work is essential. We very much look forward to working collectively to share resources and experience, so that artists have the tools and foundations they need to create work that will keep London at the forefront of pioneering, daring theatre.”

STAMP Members include: The Albany, Arcola, Artsadmin, artsdepot, Barbican, Battersea Arts Centre, Camden People’s Theatre, Fuel, The Gate, National Theatre, The Old Vic, Omnibus Theatre, Ovalhouse, Penned in the Margins, Pleasance, Poplar Union, Richmix, Shoreditch Town Hall, Soho Theatre, Stratford Circus, Talawa, Tamasha, Theatre 503, Theatre Delicatessen, The Yard and Yellow Earth.