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Artists Open Doors: Japan/UK    
2. Policy and Practice Panel:

Shoji Shimomoto
Saori Mikami
Emma Gladstone
Christopher Thomson

Emma Gladstone is currently Producer at Sadler’s Wells which she joined in 2005. Her programming and producing there includes installations, discussions, dance film nights, off-site performances – Victoria & Albert Museum, Glastonbury, Latitude Festival – and work for young audiences in Sadler’s Wells Theatre and the Lilian Baylis Studio. Emma is also Director of the Jerwood Studio at Sadler's Wells research programme, which test drives new ideas and collaborations for the main stage. Before becoming deskbound, Emma danced for many years, getting her Equity card to work with choreographer Arlene Phillips while still at school. She co-founded and directed Adventures in Motion Pictures with Matthew Bourne following post-graduate studies at Laban Centre, London and performed with Lea Anderson’s The Cholmondeleys for eight years. Prior to working at Sadler’s Wells Emma was Associate Director at The Place Theatre, London 1997–2002 and co-director of production company Crying Out Loud 2002–2005. She has a History degree from Manchester University.

The first question posed to the Policy and Practice panel by Professor Christopher Bannerman was, 'how do those of us who work in the arts perceive the cultural policies that influence our work?' It is at this point that I started to have my own questions – I am not at all sure that cultural policies do directly influence what I do, which is to produce dance and movement work at Sadler’s Wells.

For those of you unfamiliar with Sadler’s Wells, I will start with some brief information. Sadler’s Wells is a large London theatre with three spaces: one auditorium with fifteen hundred seats, one with a thousand seats, and a studio with one hundred and eighty seats. Around four hundred and fifty thousand people come to the theatre each year.

Sadler's Wells is what is called in the UK, a 'regularly-funded organisation' which indicates that it is not eligible to apply for additional grants from the Arts Council of England. (For the first time in my life, I no longer have to write Arts Council funding applications!) Although we do receive a large regular grant from the Arts Council, it represents only fourteen per cent of our annual turnover, with the rest of the income earned.

There are two key elements to my work: firstly, running the research programmes; and secondly, organising off-site events, installations, and special programmes that are funded by by specific trusts and foundations, rather than by the government. As a result, I am appalled by how little I know of current Arts Council policy. (I even had to look up information on their website before coming here!)

In my experience, the Arts Council of England tries to be responsive both to what artists are creating and to what venues such as Sadler's Wells are promoting. It is my conviction that they do notice and respond to artists and venues. It would in fact be a cause for concern if artists and venues were making art in response to cultural policy.

When key arts and cultural policy reports are published, an aspect of my role is to lead debates and discussion in the studio theatre at Sadler's Wells with artists, producers and funders. These reports are useful when they prompt us both to question and to defend what we think is important in the face of agencies such as the Arts Council. In turn, the strength of funding and cultural bodies lies in their national view. For example, they have an overview attention to cultural diversity which is also a constant concern in our programming at Sadler's Wells, and drives our aspiration to reach new audiences and work with artists from across the widest possible spectrum.

My final remarks are prompted by a recent independent report by Genista McIntosh. It followed in the wake of discussion on recent Arts Council funding cuts. McIntosh made this precise point; nobody makes art in response to Arts Council policy. At Sadler's Wells, then, when I commission artists, my constant priority is with the excellence of their ideas and of their work. The wider policy debates that I curate are neither influences nor provocation, but rather exist alongside my work as producer.

 
 
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