This paper explores how the existence of a rural creative hub can support the development of authentic, high-quality theatre.
With increasing pressure on public funding, support agencies and artists are exploring how sharing resources can help develop sustainable models of creative practice. One example of this are ‘Creative Hubs’, which are intended to allow those working across the creative and cultural industries, in any given geographical area, to come together and work collaboratively, often within the context of a shared building. However, in a rural context, resources and infrastructures associated with creative hubs can be fragmented and challenging. Often there is not one central, physical ‘hub’ but rather a connected network of individuals collaborating in various ways. Understanding the various models of networks is important because some of those working in the creative and cultural industries are finding the lack of opportunities and sustainable working in cities has resulted in an attempt to create employment and work in rural regions. As such, it is an opportune moment to reflect on the role that rural ‘hubs’ can play in supporting theatre-makers to produce high-quality, authentic theatre.
Examining three case studies, conducted through interviews and focus groups in Dumfries and Galloway (Scotland) Devon (England) and Holstebro (Denmark) this paper will explore the different ways in which rural locations have created different models of the ‘creative hub’, In particular, the discussion will focus on the extent to which authentic rural theatre creation has been facilitated through the practice of these ‘hubs’ and the networks they create and depend upon. Although some of these are unique to their location the paper concludes that on a policy level there is much that local authorities and national funding bodies can learn from the organic, artist-led hubs that have pioneered change through culture in these rural areas.
Keywords: rural, theatre, creative hubs, counter-urbanisation, cultural policy
Columns published here are the authors own opinions.