Scotland: a place for playwrights?
In June 2015, Playwrights' Studio, Scotland commissioned Christine Hamilton Consulting (CHC) to undertake rigorous research and consultation into playwriting in Scotland. This included researching the views of playwrights and other stakeholders - individuals and organisations with the ability to influence and/or be affected by playwriting in Scotland - as well as a short international audit to highlight opportunities and partnerships beyond Scotland.
The purpose of the project was to create a rigorous evidence-base for use by Playwrights' Studio, Scotland, the Scottish Society of Playwrights (SSP) and other potential partners, in a range of different ways.
The project included:
- A quantitative research survey in association with the Scottish Society of Playwrights
- Qualitative stakeholder research
- International audit (integrated throughout the consultation)
The project was funded by Creative Scotland as part of a Creative Economy (Sustainable Development) grant, with a financial contribution from the Scottish Society of Playwrights. The Creative Scotland grant also included funding for an Open Space event run by Playwrights' Studio in March 2014. It also contributed to the Different Stages conference in November 2015.
2. Purpose of the project
This project has created a rigorous evidence-base which can be used for:
- Long-term, strategic planning
- Decision-making and improved resource allocation
- Advocacy and lobbying
- Identifying the potential for new local, national and international partnerships
For instance, it will strengthen Playwrights' Studio's work in developing, supporting and promoting playwrights in Scotland. It will reinforce the SSP's case when lobbying for better pay and conditions for playwrights. It will inform the wider cultural policy-makers and planners in Scotland about the specific characteristics of playwriting in Scotland.
3. Aspects of the brief
In order to design and agree the detail of this project, meetings were arranged with staff and board members at Playwrights' Studio and representatives from the SSP. A steering group of SSP Council members and Playwrights' Studio staff was formed.
3.2 Quantitative research survey
This part of the research was carried out in association with the SSP and included the design, implementation and analysis of the first year of a longitudinal survey to track changes in the experiences of playwrights in Scotland. This was designed to subsequently be implemented and analysed by non-researchers on an annual or biannual basis.
Guided by previous SSP members' surveys, the areas covered were:
- Level and frequency of earning
- Number of plays written and produced
- Number and nature of commissions (full; short; co-written etc.)
- Earning from sources other than playwriting
- UK and international working and relationships
- Professional development needs and opportunities
This list was not exhaustive and CHC suggested the inclusion of more detailed demographic analysis.
3.3 Qualitative stakeholder research
To see a fuller picture of playwriting in Scotland, we sought the opinions of as wide a range of stakeholders as possible. This was combined with a thorough, professional analysis of the context in which they are now writing plays and/or making work.
- National or local government bodies
- Arts development agencies or cultural planners
- Directors, producers, academics, wider cultural sector
- Established professional playwrights
- Mid-career professional playwrights
This involved one-to-one interviews and also integrated existing research, strategies, policy statements etc.
3.4 International audit desk research
Although we had anticipated that this would be a discrete piece of work, questions on international working were integrated throughout the research and consultation.
3.5 Different Stages
Playwrights' Studio, the Federation of Scottish Theatre, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the SSP organised a two-day conference in November 2015. Different Stages brought together playwrights, directors, producers and theatre-makers to discuss the different ways plays are being commissioned, developed and produced. It included a practical script development workshop and surgeries about both the 'craft' and the 'business' of playwriting. CHC included this as part of their research and were able to present early findings at the conference.
4. Final reports
We are delighted to publish the final documents from Scotland: A Place for Playwrights? They comprise:
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