Big. Bechdel. News.
5 years after the idea for Bechdel Theatre was born, we’ve just been granted our first EVER bit of formal funding as a company, thanks to Arts Council England.
This is game-changing!
For those of you who don’t know, Bechdel Theatre CIC consists of 2 co-directors (Pippa & Beth) and er- that’s it! We’ve been running Bechdel Theatre in our spare time for the past 5 years, alongside several day jobs and our own creative work.
In that time, Bechdel Theatre has grown from a tongue-in-cheek Twitter account, to an ongoing multi-faceted project that includes growing social media, a blog, podcast, events, conversations, and workshops. All of it is designed to amplify and connect women, trans and non-binary people who work in and/or care about theatre and live performance.
We’ve released 3 years worth of podcasts, held Bechdel Circle audience discussions at theatres across London, distributed 3000+ stickers on posters at Edinburgh, Brighton, and VAULT festivals, and produced live events and workshops attended by hundreds of audience members and participants.
We’ve put our time, energy, and money into Bechdel Theatre, because we need spaces for solidarity, celebration, and critical conversations. We’ve learned new skills, from event producing to audio-editing (always have a back-up recording ppl!). We’ve been fuelled by our determination to create new spaces of support where underrepresented people in the arts can be championed.
We’re endlessly inspired and motivated by the incredible people we’ve met, and the positive changes we’ve seen so far over the last 5 years – though we continue to be frustrated on the daily at how much has still! yet! to! change!!
All of this has been a learning-curve, and the aims of the initial Bechdel Theatre twitter account has expanded as we’ve deepened our understanding of feminism, gender, and activism. We’re committed to evolving what we do in line with the needs of a changing theatre landscape, especially as we know more challenges are to come.
On this journey, we’ve also learnt the tough lesson that you can’t run a company effectively with a team of volunteers. So, in January 2020, we pressed pause on our activities to take part in more learning and training, and apply for funding to enable us to devote our time and energy to a period of organisational development. Now is the time for proper planning that will allow us to continue in a sustainable and equitable way. We want to serve our communities better than we were able to before – in particular, those who are Black, Disabled, Trans, and Working Class. We also aim to expand our work outside of London. All this requires transformation and growth within our company.
2020 was a dizzying and enraging combination of uncertainty, fear, anger, disconnection, and grieving for everything and everyone lost. But we’ve also felt invigorated by seeing more people pushing for and committing to the kind of systemic change and upheaval that’s needed in theatre and the world. In 2021, we’re SO excited to finally have the funding we need to upgrade our organisation from passion project to professional company.
This will include:
Evaluating our past activities: Assessing where our work has been most effective and impactful in the past, and where we can make changes and improvements.
Listening to audiences, participants & collaborators: Conducting open surveys and paid consultations with key groups that are not currently represented within the company, to ensure their experiences and voices are prioritised in our future plans.
Making our work more accessible: Working with technology and disability specialists to make our past and future work accessible to more people.
Planning and fundraising for our future work, new activities and expanding our team: Turning volunteer roles into jobs, creating more funded work and opportunities for other artists, and structuring our company so we can come at this future ready to fight and ready to rebuild.
We’re very grateful to the Arts Council for this grant, and also want to thank them for the work they’ve been doing this year making emergency funding available.
We want to thank our access worker – the amazing Daisy Hale – for assisting us through this process. We both find application forms incredibly challenging, and literally could not have done this without their help – if you’re a Disabled artist or organisation looking for an access worker we couldn’t recommend them enough!
We also had help early on in planning this application (way back in 2019) from The Queer House and Yaz Zadeh, so want to say thanks for their patience & insight.
Please bear with us while we stay behind-the-scenes – we’re doing it so we can return as a better version of Bechdel Theatre!
As always, if you have a show or bit of news you’d like us to share, please do go ahead and tag us on social media. We’ll always RT, and/or put it in our insta stories to help promote your work.
As we’ve mentioned, we are looking to expand our team in the coming months so please watch this space for these updates.
Ways you can stay in touch with us are:
Beth & Pippa x
Illustration from Alison Bechdel ‘The Essential Dykes To Watch Out For’