Angela Street‎ addresses the Gatekeepers

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black and white headshot of Angela Street

Angela Street

I’m a freelance writer, mentor, tutor, dramaturg, and scriptreader. I run Playwriting Salisbury+ which supports writers throughout the South West. As a mature student, I gained an MA in Scriptwriting, and a degree in English. I have 25 years’ experience working with writers, taught on the Open University Scriptwriting module, and with Community Groups including LinkUp Arts.

I started monthly workshops for Emerging Playwrights at Salisbury Playhouse, where I was Associate Practitioner until 2015. I now run a beginners course, as well as Red Hot Writers for experienced writers, two SHE WRITES groups. I founded Juno Theatre, to address the lack of female writers being produced in UK theatre, and support Salisbury Fringe.

Having experienced a lifetime of chronic debilitating depression and anxiety, I’ve found working for myself the best way of coping with the ugly vagaries of the illness. You’ll notice, I’m sure, from my poetry and other writings, that it has sometimes been an absolute bloody nightmare when dealing with organisations and venues who don’t understand the illness.

I’m now Project Manager for WRITE ON, a LinkUp Arts writing project. I actively encourage playfulness and risk-taking in the use of language, form and content, and was recently described as ‘very anarchic’ which pleased me enormously.

In February 2018 I won the Writers’ Guild Olwen Wymark Theatre Encouragement Award for my work with new writing. My writing, and writer development work has been supported by Arts Council England, Salisbury Arts Centre, Creative Ecology Wiltshire, Salisbury Playhouse, Wiltshire County Council, and The Society of Women Writers and Journalists.

For more information please go to my website at www.angelastreetwriter.wordpress.com

Angela Street‎ to Mental Health and the Arts Panel Discussion and Q&A with Byron Vincent, Bobby Baker, Jack Rooke and Emily Harrison
Free event at Battersea Arts Centre on Friday 5 February.

Gatekeepers
I can’t be there, but I have some words for the gatekeepers:
If you’re serious about diversity of audiences, participants, staff and freelancers
you’re going to have to learn
how to work with people who
aren’t like you
aren’t as confident or privileged as you
don’t talk like you
don’t look like you
don’t dress like you
don’t behave like you
don’t think like you
don’t socialize like you
don’t live like you
instead of expecting them to assimilate
into your version of the world.

According to Byron Vincent, these words received the biggest round of applause of the evening when he read them out.

Balls
A Monological Poem

The trouble with meetings is
some people have had a meeting
before the meeting
They decide what’s going to happen
before you were even born.
There is no agenda?
There is always an agenda
There is no agenda, no money
There is always no money, no agenda
They value your ideas and expertise
They want you involved
They admire what you do, you are amazing
There is no funding for your ideas and expertise
You are being difficult.

They want your contacts, your mailing lists
We all want the same thing
You have over five hundred writers
Two hundred and fifty actors, sixty directors
Two thousand, six hundred and forty friends.
That won’t cost you anything will it?
They are inclusive
They want to include everyone on your mailing lists.

Access?
There is only one step.
Most people can manage one step
There are other types of disability?
They have no money for access
There is a lift
They are diverse
You are being awkward
They believe in equal opportunities
You are a troublemaker.

They welcome your marketing skills and advice
There is no funding for you to do marketing
When you do marketing
Come on, It’s only the press of a button.
They want your words, your writing
But there’s no money to pay for your words, your writing
Pay you?
It’ll only take you five minutes.
You’re so good at writing, it’s your job.
And they already decided at the meeting
before the meeting
when they remembered the equal opportunities policy
that the no-funders were keen on equal opportunities.
They are on the ball
You are not allowed to see the ball
The ball is confidential
You’re sure you can hear several balls bouncing around
They pretend they don’t know about the balls
They can’t tell you about the balls.
Bouncing.
There are no balls.
You are paranoid.
They are gaslighting.

They want you to organize them
It’s what you do, there’s nothing to it
You did it so brilliantly last time
With no money, no funding
And the time before
With no money, no funding
And the time before
Before you had that breakdown.

Mental Health is a priority diversity.
You are being weird.

There is no money to pay for what you do
Every meeting is an equal opportunity to waste time
There is no money to pay for your time
You have plenty of time.
They are busy people.
They remind you that what you’re doing is voluntary
They are all voluntary
There is no money
You are just being awkward
Money grabbing.

You are an anomaly.
You look in the mirror
There is something wrong with your face
But what is it?
They can’t tell you
It’s a secret
So you can’t fix your face.
But it doesn’t fit.

They say you’re too late
for funding
They say you are too early
for funding
They say there is no funding
They say no decisions have been made
They say you don’t meet the criteria
The criteria has changed
They can’t tell you the criteria.
No decisions have been made about the criteria.

While you were looking in the mirror
at your too big face
They turn off the heating
They airbrush you out of the meeting
Out of the mailing list
Then out of everything
Out of mind
Out of your mind
Mental health is a priority
They tell each other you are awkward
Money grabbing
because
Equal opportunities is important

Pay you? Pay you?
There’s no way they’re going to pay you because
in the meeting they had before the meeting
before the meeting before the meeting
they didn’t invite you to
they already decided to give the paid work
to each other
and their mates
and themselves
using the no money, no funding
because diversity is important
Mental health is a priority.

Who knew?
Who knew?

The balls have all bounced away.