Three months have passed since my report, In Battalions, was launched at the Independent Theatre Council AGM.
Since then, it has been widely disseminated within the British theatre industry, clocking up over 8,000 downloads on its Scribd page. It has received media coverage in the Guardian, the Independent and the Stage, and has even had questions tabled in Parliament.
When two months passed without even so much as an acknowledgement of receipt from Ed Vaizey and the DCMS, 70 of theatre's highest profile names - including Dame Helen Mirren, Sir Tom Stoppard, Mike Leigh and Sir Richard Eyre - wrote an open letter to the Culture Minister urging him to take the report seriously.This did prompt Ed Vaizey to finally respond, though his letter was a disappointing dismissal of our concerns.
I will be responding to Ed Vaizey's letter shortly, but in the meantime, I wanted to let you know about Phase Two of the campaign - which is actually more important.
At the suggestion of my ever-wonderful researcher Helen Campbell Pickford, we have decided to embark on what is known as a Delphi study. If you have professional experience in the new writing sector, we would like to invite you to take part.
A Delphi study is a systematic research process recognised by the civil sevrice and research bodies, which helps collate expert opinion on a
specialist subject, and express preferences for a range of proposals using a
The study takes place in two stages: 1. Generating the longlist, and 2. Voting and Commenting.
The first stage requires you as the experts - literary managers, artistic directors, freelance theatre-makers - to engage in consideration and discussion to generate answers in response to the study question.
After consultation, our study queston is:
"In what ways can theatre-makers, theatres, and the Arts Council work together to help protect risk-taking on new work and new talent within their organisation, without creating significant extra expense?"
After generating a longlist of ideas together, the longlist is anonymised and sent back out to participants, and the voting process begins.
Each participant receives a set number of points to 'spend' on the proposals on the list. They can also comment, giving reasons for how they have allocated their points, and adding recommendations or caveats they have about each.
The results are then collated and published, the idea being that a shortlist of top-scoring proposals will emerge, generated and assessed by a pool of experts in their field. This can then be sent to funders and policy-makers, and treated as a list of recommendations.
If In Battalions described a problem, the Delphi study is about trying to find some solutions. The Delphi format allows us to do so in a way which carries methodological weight, and which will (hopefully) stand a chance of influencing policy.
I've uploaded full instructions on how to take part, along with a list of sample ideas as a stimulus for generating your own, here.
The deadline for receiving contributions for the longlist is one month from today, on Mon 24 June 2013, with the voting taking place after that.
If you would like to take part, please get in touch.
Ed Vaizey may not be willing to help us, but we don't need him to be able to do this.
Thank you for your ongoing support.