Creative Voucher Scheme
Arcola Theatre Production Company and City University London
Dr Ben Todd, Arcola Theatre Production Company
Dr Amanda Brown, Professor Steve Cottrell (principal investigator) and Dr Sara Jones (co-investigator), City University London
The Arcola Theatre Production Company is a Dalston based culture anchor for the area’s diverse communities. In one of London’s most deprived spots it is a pivotal point that must simultaneously serve its established audiences whilst adapting to gentrification and the new audiences this brings with it.
The collaboration with staff at City University London set out to maintain and develop the theatre’s connections with its local community, re-engaging with people and reinforcing it as a local offering, whilst meshing into wider audiences via a sustainable place-based marketing strategy. In order to achieve this the project set out to develop a new strand of work, Arcola Local, which would focus on collecting user generated content in order to deepen engagement and establish a baseline historical understanding of Arcola and its role in the community.
In aid of the task City University designed and facilitated a strategic audience engagement plan consisting of two strands. Firstly they conducted eight oral history interviews with selected members of Arcola community groups. Secondly they worked with 18 – 25 year olds tasking them to create 60 second videos detailing their own thoughts and reflections on the theatre. The short videos were later montaged together into single piece reflecting a range of interpretations. A video documenting the project has also been produced.
The project allowed the theatre to re-discover the Arcola story by stitching together personal memories and reflections, effectively it help uncover the ‘Arcola spirit’. The research carried out has assisted in refining Arcola’s understanding of its relationship with the local community and City University has helped devise a new strategic business plan.
Since the collaboration the opportunity for a City University internship at Arcola has been discussed and the partnership has looked into additional funding sources to carry on their work together. Based on the work carried out with City University Arcola is planning a fifteen year anniversary celebration driven by an expanded implementation of the ideas, tools and approaches devised via the project.
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