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Development Programme - DAY TWO

By Avant Cymru 12 Dec, 2017
Avant have a fantastic opportunity to rehearse shows in the beautiful Park and Dare. However trying to organise meetings and office space on a day to day basis is a challenge, as there is limited space for this type of activity in our rehearsal home. We often find ourselves running around to find reliable wifi. We also regularly look for spaces to teach dance, spaces we can train on a regular basis, spaces where we can play music and that has a suitable floor. 
To be as productive as possible we need an office space, a place where we can hold meetings and a place where we can invite potential partners and community members to work with us. 
But space costs money, as individuals we don't have large pockets and we know that public funding is hard to gain. So if we are to have a space to call home (when we are not rehearsing) we need to make the space sustainable. But how do we do this?
Today Tommy, Ahmed and Rachel (part of the 'Blue Scar' Crew) took a trip around Bristol. We went to visit four dance studios in different buildings to see what they offer and how they are sustainable. 
One thing we remarked is that in Wales's (or at least in the Rhondda) our rundown, unused buildings are done, but Bristol really know how to make their rundown, unused building fun! 70's office blocks, old factorys, old fire stations turned into community venues - which showcase professional artists work and create areas to train and network. 
The amazing thing is that the Bristol venues do this with energy, colour and with out of the box thinking. The results are that walls become art space, tables become places to play, seats places you can swing on, pianos and unused items all accessible for sharing. In a couple of venues they had pop up shops for emerging artists to sell their work, there were galleries, cafes, health centres and bars, sharing office and dance studio space - all independent businesses and artists under one roof helping each other. 
At Avant we love collaboration, for example we are working with Afon Community Dance, Break It Down and Illuminations dance to run classes and workshops. We have been working with Rufus Mufasa and Millimagic to promote Rufus's new album. If we were to find a suitable home we would want it to be a joint home for these artists, new artist friends/colleagues and our community. A space where we can come together to create, learn and celebrate the art work in the valleys. 
We have been busy writing a business plan with our mentors at Promo Cymru, thanks toEnterprising Solutionsand Interlink. Today has given us plenty of food for thought and has been inspiring. We may not have large pockets, but we have passion, planning and potential and an artistic space for us to call home, feels a large step closer. 
Thank you Bristol. 
By Avant Cymru 24 Nov, 2017
It is now possible to buy your tickets for 'Forget Me Not'. 

BUY TICKETS HERE:  https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/FEGLEI

We have worked with the community to hear stories from WWI, residents from the Rhondda and Pontypridd shared family stories, photos, postcards, letters and more to help inform us to write a script based on what the people of valleys did during WWI.

We will be sharing these stories through a play, performed at Pontypridd Museum, January 25th, 26th and 27th 1:30 and 7:30pm.

Join us and share your stories, to remember the people of the valleys and what they did for the war effort 100 years ago. 
By Avant Cymru 27 Oct, 2017
Day Three.

We got to discuss evaluation today, one of my favourite things, mixed with an idea to create an excel document to monitor the feedback, I suddenly feel right at home. Evaluation is such a powerful tool, we use it often in Avant to be able to influence the shows and events that we produce. 

However today I started to consider how I share this evaluation with others, I often create conclusions from the data I gather and I am able to plan the next steps due to gathering this data, but I am not very good at sharing this process with others. Well until now, I can see that I will be creating a few excel documents over the next week so that the aims and objectives of 'Rhondda Road', 'Blue Scar' and 'Forget Me Not' are clear for all in the team. I often get told to delegate, however I worry that through delegation Avant's vision and missions will be lost, a clear document which sets out to achieve Avant's aims will help me to inform and empower colleagues to take on more roles for Avant. 

Second thought of the day is the difference between marketing and outreach. We love outreach, we believe that engaging in new theatre audiences is important, we are starting to reach new theatre audiences. However, and I apologies for this, we have neglected those who are already interested in theatre by not marketing to you. 

How can we improve our marketing? 

Do you already attend theatre? What can we do to sell (yes sell) our shows and opportunities to you? We know that we are creating high quality shows that appeal to those who enjoy theatre, we know this from our evaluation, but we are not reaching you at the moment. 

We know we need to gain your trust so please do give us a chance, come and chat with us and let us know what you think about our marketing. 

It has been a productive three days, I have spent time reflecting and getting our first business plan draft on paper (well I say paper, but it is 2017 so I mean on a computer programme, but it doesn't sound so good)! I have gained a new strategic action plan for our projects and Alan has been briefed, he will be receiving a number of excel document shortly! Finally I have made meaningful connections with other arts practitioners and we have all had a valuable experience. 

Thank you AMA digital for your course and Thank you Arts Council Wales for supporting Avant to have this time to get the business in order so that we can focus on creating high quality, professional, relevant, dance and drama. 
By Avant Cymru 26 Oct, 2017
Day two on the AMA course which we have been supported to attend by Arts Council Wales to attend. 
We worked alot on brand today and on what is important to us. We are passionate about our community and the stories it has to share and we want to be the leading theatre company creating these performances in the valleys, performances that speak to and for our community. We have always wanted to celebrate the valleys rich past, discuss the issues that are in the present and look to create real change and ambition in the future. We believe we have taken the right steps to achieve these aims and today has been a great opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved and what is still left to do. 

We'd love to know what you think about our social media output, our website and our posters that are around town. Why not follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, youtube and Snapchat, keep in touch and tell us what you think. 

Patrick Thomas designed our Rhondda Road poster, Patrick is an 18 year old from Treherbert, he came to work with us on the Blue Scar project and designed the logo for the show. We want to nurture local talent and  by creating paid opportunities to local talent and we want to be able to support other young creatives in the same way. But here's the question... did you know this? Are we shouting out about our commitment to area enough? Do you want to see the Rhondda's stories shared in local productions and in national/international tours? How can we involved you to help champion our work? 

I got to sit next to other touring companies today and discuss who to market to new audiences in new locations, I heard from a playwright whose play reflects British/Trinidad culture, the response for the play sounded amazing, it engaged with new and current theatre audiences who wanted to engage with a new culture through theatre. 
It is something we consider alot, especially with Rhondda Road and people concerns that a soap opera will shine a negative light on the valleys, so we would love to hear from you. What do you want to see? Do you know about Blue Scar and Forget Me Not, if not want can we do to make sure the news reached you?

In reflection after today, if our brand is to truly reflect the valleys we need you guys, so please do talk to us and tell us what you think about what we are doing and what you would like us to do.   We are a 'Forward Thinking Theatre Company' and we want to think with you. 

Right back to the business plan!! Until tomorrow, goodnight all. 
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