LICA Research Seminar: Helen Nicholson on Rebranding Theatre: Education and the Creative Industries
1 June 2010
Helen Nicholson (Royal Holloway University of London), Rebranding Theatre: Education and the Creative Industries.
Theatre that takes place in educational settings has been re-branded. Once associated with civic activism and political mobilisation, theatre is now allied to public engagement and to the leisure and creative industries. Theatre for children is thriving, recognising that children are profitable cultural consumers. Government policies that promote creative learning aim to produce a flexible workforce in a post-industrial economy, and the creative industries have become instrumental to urban regeneration. Disused factories have been turned into arts centres, galleries, museums and theatres, promoted as cultural assets in the expectation of attracting entrepreneurial investment. In areas of economic deprivation, participating in the arts is seen as a powerful way to heal social division. As funding has increased for education and public engagement programmes,theatre-makers have responded to this economic and social climate by developing new ways to contribute to formal education and community learning. This paper will explore some of the implications of this rebranding, and argue that, perhaps contrary to expectations, contemporary theatre practitioners are working in ways that are not only artistically innovative, but also encourage new forms of social imagining.