New Diorama Launch Capital Campaign
18 July 2016
For 2016/17, we're launching a Capital Campaign to transform our technical capabilites, improve access & increase the number of artists based at NDT.
When we first moved into New Diorama almost six years ago, we begged and borrowed all the technical equipment we could to get the theatre up and running. The analogue lights and ancient lamps got us through the first two years – even though they always smelled of fire whenever we switched them on!
Quickly, the ambition of the theatre companies we supported started to grow – soon they were touring all over the country and our old, antique kit was no longer compatible and kept breaking down at inopportune moments. After some generous support, three years ago we undertook a small upgrade; obtaining a digital lighting desk and dimmers.
Now, our artists are premiering their work at New Diorama and then transferring it internationally - sometimes to National Theatres across the globe - and those touring in the UK are not just touring to studio theatres but are also visiting the major stages around the country. Our supported artists are becoming associates at the UK’s major producing houses – we have to raise our game to match their ambition.
Our Community Outreach Programme has also boomed – each year engaging with close to 9,000 individuals in our local area. This year we’ve launched a free Youth Theatre with two local partners to inspire a whole new generation of artists. However, our current set-up at New Diorama is not at the standard it needs to be for community groups to use independently and safely, including our new Youth Theatre.
As a venue, New Diorama has cultivated a strong reputation for access. One of the only accessible studio theatres in London for wheelchair users, New Diorama has partnered with STAGETEXT to provide captioned access performances across our whole season for the last three years – the only non-NPO studio theatre in the country to do so. However, our technical facilities are currently not accessible and there is no accessible office space for disabled production managers and show operators.
This year we are going to really address these issues and, after six years, tackle them once and for all.
With National Theatre Technical Associate Nick Flintoff as our consultant, we’re going to strengthen New Diorama through this Capital Campaign to enable us to:
- fully realise the artistic vision of our early-career artists – providing them with a space that is comparable to their other partner theatres across the country and therefore not limiting their ambitions.
- fully serve our local community by making our resources safer and easier to use. Many professional theatre technicians and designers are only working in theatre now because of the training and passion they developed at their local theatre, learning how to operate and use professional lighting and sound kits. This is something we at New Diorama are currently unable to offer, due to the restrictions imposed by having to work at height to access our equipment.
- increase our capacity by significantly speeding up technical get-ins – fit ups that once took a day could, if our plans go ahead, take a matter of hours or less, meaning New Diorama could host more performances, support more artists and benefit more people than ever before.
- make New Diorama fully accessible for the first time and make the theatre considerably more environmentally friendly, continuing our pioneering commitment to access.
- install air conditioning into the theatre space for the first time - making visiting New Diorama more comforable for audiences.
"New Diorama immediately struck me as not just a unique theatre for artists to put on new work with a very loyal audience but also as a pioneering engine room for the development of new, emerging theatre companies and artists.
The small and dedicated team running New Diorama really care and support their artists in the best way possible. These improved technical resources are the only ingredient missing from making New Diorama one of the most exciting, dynamic studio theatres in the country."
Nick Flintoff, Technical Associate, National Theatre.
We’ve identified several areas that New Diorama urgently need to address if we want to continue investing in the best emerging work:
Mechanize our main lighting rig
Currently sitting almost 5m above the ground, our main lighting rig is only serviced by ladders – which can be dangerous when hanging bigger lanterns (such as moving lights) or projectors – which require two people on separate ladders to lift.
At a height where an accident could be fatal, these risks, which increase with the technical and artistic vision of a show, are too high for us to take.
With inadequate space to accommodate a tall-a-scope or cherry-pickers, the best solution is to motorize the main bars so they can be rigged at floor height.
Replace loose cabling, with internal wired bars and floor-level stage boxes.
With the majority of our cabling being over 20 years old, it no longer meets the technical demands required by our artists, who are often using newer, more technically advanced kit.
By providing internal wired bars, not only does it make working in the theatre far more efficient but keeps our set-up simpler than running wires, often mid-air, from our control box – which is both aesthetically unattractive and, on occasion, a safety hazard.
Floor level stage boxes, providing direct connections to our control box for lighting, DMX, digital and sound input would allow artists to make much better use of limited technical time. Six of these stage boxes would greatly simplify our set-up and vastly improve the functionality of the theatre.
Improve Our Backstage Access
Reducing the need for ladder work will help disabled lighting designers and theatre technicians. However, there is currently no wheelchair accessible office space.
By better utilising our outdoor space means New Diorama could create a new, accessible office space and production office. This space could also double as free, year-round office space for emerging companies we support who would be unable to afford working space of their own.
Re-think Our Technical Set-Up.
Currently all of our dimmers and electrical equipment are located in our small technical box.
The heat and wiring in this small room, especially during technical rehearsals, is intense and doesn’t result in the best operating conditions for heavy-duty electrical equipment, such as dimmers.
We need to re-tool our landing space to install dimmer racks away from the cluttered and hot technical control room, and invest in more intelligent general storage and hanging systems for our technical equipment.
Secure The Ambitious Artistic Visions of our Artists
Theatre companies supported by New Diorama tour their shows all over the UK as well as internationally. Many companies turned down other offers, and substantial funds, in favour of teching and premiering their work at New Diorama last year. The reason this is happening so often is the creative and support atmosphere that New Diorama has cultivated. We need to match the loyalty and enthusaism of our artists with world-class resources. Increasingly they are transferring their work from NDT to the bigger studios around the UK and even internationally - we need to make sure we can match their technical set-up so our artists are able to fully realise their work and our audiences are seeing the highest quality work.
Over the next year we will be rasing £68,000 in order to transform New Diorama into a world class resource and one of the best equipped studio theatres in the country. If you'd like to talk about our Capital Campaign, or contribute towards our target, please email our Artistic & Executive Director, David Byrne, directly at email@example.com.
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