routemap[s] - Eoin McKenzie, Katrine Turner and Megan Reid
2020 turned our lives and practices as freelance artists upside down. Or more specifically 2020 thrust our lives and practices online; workshops that we facilitate onto zoom, work meetings onto teams, performances adapted for video or audio formats. We found ourselves increasingly isolated from other artists. We missed the after show chat at the bar, the exchange of ideas, the sense of community. And gradually we (Eoin, Katrine and Megan) began to wonder if we could utilise these new virtual mediums to create an artist-held space where freelance artists could begin to share these conversations again.
In November 2020, we began by discussing how we could actively create more space for the development of contemporary performance with/for young audiences that approaches it from a perspective of risk and experimentation within Scotland. However, we felt plagued by questions in the flurry of announcements of new routemaps, tiers, levels and strategies to get the population out of lockdown and back to work. How does your ‘work’ change when you can’t meet with young people? What happens when you can’t be in the theatre? How do we share work? How do you create a 'routemap' for the young audiences sector and where does it lead?
We wanted to create a grassroots, collectively designed space for artists to meet, to learn and to share experiences about the specifics of working with young people and maybe even find an answer(s) to some of our questions. To do this, we knew we needed to open up the dialogue to more artists.With the enthusiastic support of Matt Addicott (thanks Matt!) and Platform, we hosted a trial zoom session and invited practitioners making work for and with young people from Platforms’ network. We asked these artists three questions: :
What do you need as an artist in this sector?
How can we foster an artist-led community in this sector?
How can the space routemap[s] provides activate some of the answers to the above questions?
The artists at our initial zoom session were generous and thoughtful with their responses and inspired us to begin to imagine how routemap[s] could develop into a regular virtual meeting space. We gathered everyone’s feedback and perspectives and created this loose description of what routemap[s] is/could be :
routemap[s] is a series of digital conversations with artists who are currently engaged in/interested in engaging with making work for/with young people in theatre. The intention of routemap[s] is to bring about more shared knowledge, more community, and more artist dialogues within the Scottish theatre-for-young-people landscape. We really hope that routemap[s] can become a gently facilitated space for artists in the field to meet regularly outside the confines of institutions/funding stipulations to talk about what feels important/urgent/difficult - and that the format evolves, shifts, and responds to the folk that come along.
Rather than working from a fixed ‘routemap[s]’ zoom account, we are nomadic and jump around zoom accounts of theatres and organisations across Scotland with an interest in work with and for young audiences. We see this as an alternative sustainable model for artist-led events and hope it will allow routemap[s] to reach a wider (and more geographically spread out!) group of artists. Each month we have an open discussion around a theme, which is usually generated from previous sessions. So far our topics have been Sustaining Practice, Adults in the room, Risky Business, Adventuretime and The Kids Will Be Alright The minutes and readings from previous sessions can be found on our shared google drive.
routemap[s] is an open ended experimentation on artistic community building and shared learning. How it develops depends on the artists that come along and engage in our ongoing dialogue. Our hope is that it might foster a renewed sense of community. Maybe it'll even inspire the beginnings of some artist-led routemap[s] leading us somewhere new? Only the future will tell.
routemap[s] is open to anyone with an interest in making work with or for young people and we welcome artists from anywhere in the world to join including students. We strive to make routemap[s] as accessible as possible, if you have any access or support needs, let us know!
routemap[s] happens online on the second last thursday of each month. If you are interested in joining us for future sessions email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add you to our mailing list or follow us for updates on twitter at @routemap_s