When we start work on a project, we take time to consider the client’s goals, what the community can support, and what value we can bring to the project. Our work goes beyond the nuts and bolts of venue planning, design, and equipment—it goes straight to the heart of how we can make the arts more accessible to everyone. We believe the arts matter. That, in bringing people together in a safe space to explore ideas and share experiences, the arts make a positive contribution to the lives of individuals, communities, and greater society. It’s what draws us to the work we do.
Having no (or extremely limited) access to event and entertainment experiences over the past 17 months gave us the opportunity to think philosophically about how much poorer our lives are without social gatherings and live entertainment. So, we asked our US team to think about what theatre means to them, why it’s important, and what our work contributes to the world. Here’s a distillation of what they said.
- “Theatre” is about viewing and display, and you can find “theatre” in many, many environments—it’s not just traditional theatre buildings and concert halls where those interactions happen.
- Our work is to advocate, making sure individuals feel heard and included.
- Our place is to act as the conduit between theatre creators and creators of theatres.
- Art is how humanity expresses the shared experiences that cement us together, making our world something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s important to support and amplify the actual art that’s happening in our venues.
- Our role is to create spaces for meaningful communication.
In discussing these philosophical questions with the team, the answers were as different as the individuals. But two overarching themes emerged.
First, “theatre” is present in many different environments—be that in traditional arts venues, education spaces, themed entertainment environments, parks and other public spaces, or even at private functions and social gatherings. The way we see it, theatre is everywhere. And we’re excited to pursue all kinds of projects—traditional, non-traditional, crazily innovative, and even straight-up wacky—with an emphasis on inclusion and experience.
Second, in serving art, our work is to serve humanity. Our projects should serve a greater purpose—one with a strong commitment to responsible design, social equity, and community cohesion. Creating spaces for all types of meaningful communication should include amplifying the art and messages coming out of these communities as well as listening to the voices of the unheard so that they are welcomed and included in the results of our work.
Coming to understand this philosophy is helping us focus our efforts for our clients in a new way. It’s driving us to consciously expand our community stakeholder pool to better include our culture’s less-heard voices—like wheelchair users, people with hearing or vision loss, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, indigenous peoples, neuro-diverse people—and apply our listening skills toward inclusive, accessible, welcoming design for all the projects we’re pursuing.
But it’s not just our communities that we’re hoping to nurture and sustain. Part of the reason we embarked on this reflective exercise was to remind ourselves that it’s not just our work that matters, but how each of us individually engages with the world around us. We want our team—and, in turn, our company and the wider industry we work in—to become healthy, socially-conscious, and active members of our communities. We believe in the power of the arts, ideas, shared experiences, and human connections. And, as we emerge from COVID-related restrictions, we’re hopeful that gathering spaces will return to being the heart of their communities, breathing life back into shared experiences.