Regional Voices Project – A Different Perspective 

Recently we hosted our first focus group for ‘A Different Perspective’ as part of the Plymouth Cultural Investment Fund. This project exists under Regional Voices, which is a strand of our work seeking to engage people who currently have little to no engagement/experience with the theatre industry. We are leading the project alongside Creative Producer, Lorna Rosa whose work incorporates arts research alongside, designing and coordinating projects which elevate Black and Brown voices in the art field. The purpose of this particular project was to answer the question of “How will a specific, bespoke audience development campaign help to engage more black and global majority audiences?” 

Within the first phase we hope to gain greater insight into what is stopping people from going to the theatre, what would entice them to go to engage with the arts and what stories they would want to hear. Within the second phase we look further into how our research can inform future Beyond Face audience development strategies. 

In our first session we sat down to get to know one another better. This session was one to introduce them to Beyond Face, what we do and why we do it, allowing them to think about whether A Different Perspective is a project they’d like to feed into. 

There were a range of reasons the project had interested them, such as feeding an interest in performance that otherwise remained in highschool. However, the theme of community and connection was a prominent answer. Some participants were new to Plymouth and others well-known to the area, yet they all wanted to connect culturally and become a part of a space to freely exist and create in. One participant compared finding Beyond Face to finally seeing the beacon on a lighthouse,a place of safety and refuge. Hopefully this project can be that at its very core and more. 

Once everyone had introduced themselves and reasons for being there you could feel a buzz of excitement and anticipation as to what relationships and creations could be fostered in this space. The participants spoke openly about challenges they’ve faced both working and interacting with the arts, mentioning that there is a culture of box-ticking without the follow through. 

We also went around the room to share our different connections and experiences with art and theatre. Whether people had worked in theatre or simply wanted the opportunity to be a part of this transparent space, it was incredible to see everyone willingly offering their time and resources to benefit the group both as individuals and a collective. 

There was plenty of head nodding in agreement, laughter, suggestions and considerate thoughts. We left the room feeling hopeful of the knowledge that we might gain from our time with this group and excited about who else we can reach with it. 

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