The end of Act 1! (1992)


It was all going so well, until we got the letter from the Arts Council. You haven't got funding this year...

We tried to find out why but didn't get any coherent response or thoughtful criticism - just 'we don't have enough money to fund everybody'. The Arts Council money had made a big difference in terms of being able to pay realistic wages. The reality of the early years was one of just making enough money to survive, but now we couldn't face going back to doing it for the love of it and a couple of quid here and there.

So the decision was taken to split the partnership and Heads Together came to a grinding halt.

Still from Tonight's the Night Super 8 film: Tamsin Spain


The Arts Council money had gone and that was a big blow. But, after a certain amount of mourning, it was time to reassess things. Although there was a temptation to run away and start something new, Heads Together had a good reputation for producing inventive work of real quality. Apart from the performance side of things, people were really interested in the participatory work we had developed, and there was certainly potential to take that further.

And, aside from the Arts Council, Yorkshire Arts were still prepared to support us, as well as local authorities around West Yorkshire and West Yorkshire Grants. And then there were all the galleries and venues we had performed at and run workshops in. And the Scottish Arts Council had put a lot of money behind our work north of the border...

Image from Laughing at Life. Photographer Mike Davidson

What We Learned

  • We'd learned in our business seminars about the risk involved in over-relying on one source of money, but the truth is, when you are only just breaking even... losing any of your sources of funding can be catastrophic.
  • Building up recognition and reputation is so important in the early years of any Company's development. Because we had been successful in that, we now had the opportunity to re-assess and look at future opportunities...
  • You can try and define a single path forward, but stuff happens... and you might have to find another route.

Where Next?

Time to take a deep breath and on into Phase 2: The Street Years.

An episode of the soap opera ends. Photographer George Pope