This research was funded by AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) and the Clore Leadership Programme and carried out in partnership with Northumbria University, supported by Academic Supervisor Senior Lecturer Kay Hepplewhite. The research was motivated by noticing a comparative lack of fringe activity in Newcastle/Gateshead compared with other regional cities, and a lack of venues outside the major theatres where fringe work was being presented. I had identified a growing desire from artists for more experimental work and more fringe spaces to present work in the city. Many performing arts graduates were leaving the city to find opportunities elsewhere. There was potential and interest to cultivate and nurture a more thriving fringe theatre climate in the city. As Artistic Director of Curious Monkey, a theatre company based in Newcastle, I have a personal relationship with the aims in this study and I share a passion for the subject matter. This research started in September 2014, data was collected between October and December 2014; data analysis and the public symposium took place between January and February 2015. In Newcastle/Gateshead I noted many conversations about the fact that things are changing. There is something bubbling under the surface in terms of a fringe scene, but there is definitely still room for improvement. Through this research I wanted to explore how we continue to encourage the independent performance sector to bubble up and not allow things to simmer down. Fringe is the training ground for artists, where they can develop and hone their skills; a place where people can take risks, try out ideas and be allowed to fail. It is a form of theatre that generally has lower ticket prices, therefore is more accessible to new audiences of non-typical theatregoers.
Amy Golding, Artistic Director of Curious Monkey
March 2015