Collaboration… it’s not just for Christmas!

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he Lighthouse Cat's Christmas Adventure

As most of us try to carve out some rest time by getting as close as we can to the end of our to-do lists, many of those who make the events that bring us joy at this time of year will be working up to Christmas Eve and beyond, often with shows happening several times a day.

For those in theatre and events, as with retail, this is a time of year on which the risk and precarity of the rest of the year is balanced.

That equilibrium faces increasing challenges in the year ahead but the collaborative ships that are steered during the festive season are not just about sharing creative ideas to make these celebrations, individuals and companies are pooling their resources to make something that is bigger than the sum of its parts.

The word collaboration is bandied around a lot in the creative and cultural sector. This is the time of year when the largest numbers of people are likely to see that collaboration in action, without perhaps even consciously realising to what extent it exists, when they attend a pantomime, a Christmas show for children and families or a light show.

Glow Illuminations Cobtree Manor Park
©Lisa Carpendale

Across and beyond Medway this season as well as our commercial pantomime Snow White in the Central Theatre, independent companies such as Play on Words, Loop Dance (The Lighthouse Cat’s Christmas Adventure) D-live (Scrooge), the in house team at Glassbox (Peter Pan) and Glow Illuminations have brought us beautiful home grown work employing a wide range of practitioners.

The challenge of keeping prices affordable is a huge one and we need to congratulate all the companies that have managed to do that in some way through partnerships and subsidy.

Perhaps the less visible aspect of collaboration is the discipline and range of expertise it takes within a production team to balance creativity with budget and time. That takes structure and teamwork, a structure that is robust enough to keep everything on track (there’s nothing like the deadline of an opening night looming to focus the collective mind!) whilst being flexible enough to embrace new discoveries, hiccups and challenges along the way that a strong team with a clear vision of their roles will pull together to keep things moving forward. So the shout out here is also to production and event managers and their teams.

Thankfully we are also starting to see changes in working terms from ‘ the show must go on’ at all costs to a more trust and care centred ecology that tries to offer more protection from burn out.

There’s quite a leap of faith involved for people who may have come together for the first time on a project or equally may have worked together several times before and thus know the huge effort it will take to reach the point of putting their work in front of an audience.

It only happens through the creative sharing of resources, balancing the buys, borrows and hires to produce something for a wider public that appears to them as one seamlessly unified piece of work.

We are witnessing a wider cultural shift that challenges the status quo from the ground up. Through the work of a range of organisations, we are being encouraged and supported to think about how we collaborate as communities within a place full of creativity, expertise and resources to maximise the impact of what investment there is.

What can success look like if we collaborate to creatively distribute and share our resources of time, space and money more evenly?

Collaborating is not just for Christmas, and here at Creative Medway we are here for the long haul, celebrating every achievement as we go and trying to work out how we can do this across Medway.

By collaborating with those we know and those we don’t yet know across sectors we will grow and flourish.

We are looking forward to what can come out of meeting you all in 2023

However you are spending the season, as a team we wish you good rest and joy…..

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