BLT’s Community Theatre orientation goes naturally with its reputation of working in partnership and through collaborative arrangements. We have often been a catalyst-facilitator, getting several players to pull together in a common endeavour—a theatre festival here, an educational project there… In defining the scope of the Mission for itself the Academy quickly recognized the importance of collaborative effort in all its plans. We believe that the future of theatre development will depend heavily on collaboration across many interested people, and not on isolated pursuits. What is the development task in any social setting? It can be put this way: Persevering towards a desired state in conditions of limited resources, inadequate external appreciation, uncertain internal continuity, and difficult economic viability. Under these circumstances, the best way forward appears to be through collaborative effort, strengthening the institution beyond a single programme. Indeed, collaboration is likely to be a core value to guide the mission of the Academy. Yet, we must accept that collaboration does not spring naturally from intent—there is much to learn about making collaborations work. Our experience so far has shown that there is a “learning curve” in improving the collaborative process when two or more organisations decide to work on something together. The experience also shows that with a little investment in systems and processes, the learning curve can be made to work to the advantage of all. BLT has built strong partnerships in both the Children’s Theatre and the Public Appreciation programmes. The collaborative arrangements are within the longer term Theatre Education programmes. They are with institutions both in the country and abroad. We make a distinction between institutional partners and collaborative arrangements. What is common to them is the goal of achieving synergies from the collaborative process. Networking is a more specialised form of collaborative process. The Academy has initiated the ground work for two areas of networking:
- A league of non-profit theatre companies is visualized. To start with the emphases will be on sharing resources, communication and publicity. In due course, the league may take on advocacy and policy functions as well.
- Organisation and Management Development is a serious need in most non-profit groups in the theatre and performing arts. After a successful pilot programme exploring issues and needs in organisation and management in performing arts groups, we have had enquiries from two well known theatre centres to assist them in their management development tasks.