“Our work has opened eyes to new lived experiences… disrupted the status quo and made people think differently about their lives and those of others” – we caught up with Ad Infinitum to find out how inclusive leadership impacts the artist, the audience and our society as a whole.
“Ad Infinitum are a diverse-led theatre-making and touring company based in Bristol. The work we do is for everyone. But we focus on making work with, by and for underrepresented artists and audiences – and have done for over 14 years. Many of the projects we make also have extensive engagement programmes that actively encourage audiences and communities to explore, debate and participate in the themes we’re presenting.
Why do we do this? Every project highlights a social injustice or lesser known story that is marginalised and warrants public scrutiny. The engagement process means we can have a broader, deeper impact alongside the punch packed into our theatre pieces – enabling participants to delve more profoundly into the subject matter.
Our work has opened eyes to new lived experiences, inspired couples to seize the moment and propose to one another, encouraged audiences to learn sign language, generated allies to join minority causes, disrupted the status quo and made people think differently about their lives and those of others.
Walk the Walk
We’re really proud of what we have achieved over the last 14+ years. Everything we make is about doing what we can to bring positive change to our society – and by change we mean representative, at times disruptive and always meaningful, change. But we are continually looking at how we can change for the better too. This means taking a long hard look in the mirror and making sure our walk matches our talk.
This is where boardroom diversity comes in. We’ve worked hard with a wonderful group of Trustees over six years to establish charitable status as a CIO and build up our core team so we can do more of the work we love doing – we secured Arts Council England’s Elevate funding for three years to build resilience, grow and create stability. But we realised that the rich diversity and lived experience in much of our work needs to be present at every level of the organisation. And that’s why we want to make some important changes now.
The last 18 months have been some of the most challenging for the arts sector. Long term planning, ambitions and productions in the pipeline were all suddenly put on hold, postponed or had to be thrown out as we all shifted into a constant state of adaptation and short term crisis management. But it’s at this time of crisis that prioritising the people we make work with and for is at its most crucial. And as we (hopefully) move into a post-pandemic world of recovery, renewal and change, it becomes more important than ever.
Boards Have Power
Ad Infinitum is run by two Co-Artistic Directors who have experience of being ‘othered’ and appreciate how hard minoritised people have to work to get a seat at the table – that’s why we created our own organisation in the first place because a) we didn’t easily fit into the status quo, and b) it gave us the freedom to create, lead and share opportunities without having to “fit in”.
We want to create a board that truly represents the family of collaborators we make work with and for – a board that equally values both expertise and lived experience. Why does it matter? Because boards have power. Quite simply. And who gets to use their voice, make decisions, and have an impact has strong ramifications on our sector, and on our society as a whole.
We understand that visibility is crucial – it not only speaks louder than words ever could about intentions or promises, it has a powerful impact on those who work with us and enables everyone to see themselves represented in our organisation, at every level.
So if you want to be part of this journey and help us make this change – please get in touch, we’d love to have a chat.”
Do you want to stand up and make your voice heard? Find out how you can join Ad Infinitum’s Board of Trustees HERE
- Extraordinary Wall
of Silence– premiered in 2019, EWOS was a collaboration between deaf and hearing artists, academics and community leaders to examine the devastating history of Oralism on deaf culture. Dr Paddy Ladd presented sold out lectures in Bristol and Manchester that informed audiences about the history of oppression against the deaf community and called for people to step up as allies in the fight for deaf rights. Our Beyond the Theatre webpage details the research behind our productions so audiences can find out more.
- Our shows No Kids (2017) and Ballad of the Burning Star (2013) – though wildly different in theme and style (No Kids explores same sex parenting, Ballad the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) – were accompanied by post show discussions to create a space for passionate and informative discussions with experts in their field. Panellists included Lyn Elvins, one half of the first same-sex couple to be approved for adoption in the UK, and Channel 4’s Jon Snow, who chaired a debate about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.
- And the research and development for our latest show, The Long Lie, currently in production, has involved communities through gathering unheard narratives and real-life testimony which has been used to create two podcast seasons exploring the elderly care system in the UK.