Last weekend we made the trip up town to the New Diorama theatre, near Euston, London to attend its first Theatre for Young Audiences networking event. Armed with post-its and biros, our first task was to tackle the hot topic of collaboration.

One of the first questions that prompted a lot of chatter was “Is it cheaper and easier NOT collaborate?” Cheap and easy are not two words we would associate with being a young and emerging company. Creating work, getting it into venues and getting people to see it make for a tough job. But in our experience there is one thing that can help and that is the C word… collaboration.

Skill sharing is the basis of the arts world. It is through looking at companies, venues and producers that we are able discover our own path, looking at decisions of others and thinking, “That looks like a great idea” or ‘That is not for mm”. No-one can be expected to know everything right away, and how can we learn unless others are willing to share their experience and knowledge?

Since opening our doors to outside collaboration our work has accelerated both creatively and professionally. It started with working with musicians. The first time they stepped into the rehearsal room it encouraged us to think beyond our work and their fresh input caused us to make changes to our work and encouraged us away from insular reflection.  It is clear that collaborating creatively can make the work richer, introducing different solutions and styles to the mix.

However, even working with people in a professional dimension can also give massive support to your creative work. We have been fortunate enough to start collaborating with a number of people who are helping us produce our work, get it into venues, and assist administratively with promotion of our performances and development of our workshop program. These are all aspects that are important in the running of a theatre company. They are tasks we have been doing since the inception of the company. However, we are now in the position to have assistance in these tasks form people more experienced than ourselves, allowing us to focus on our creative work without the anxiety that surrounds these affiliated tasks.

Building Team Filskit in this way has opened a whole new world of opportunities. New contacts, ideas and influences have developed our work into avenues we would have never anticipated beforehand.

Although the world of collaboration can seem rosy, there are still a number of issues that surround it. Foremost, it can be difficult to meet the right people, to find those who have similar basic principles about the work that is being created and have complementary skills to those already in the company. We built our collaborations based on the people we met through festivals and shows. In our experience, it takes time to build relationships, and they need investment from both sides to make things work. It can often be scary to hand over control, so it is important that you trust the people you work with. We have been lucky to find people we want to work with, but hard work and commitment have enabled the collaboration to happen.

The next step once getting people on board is action. It is very easy to talk, very easy to dream, not so easy to do.

This is why networking events, such as that held at the New Diorama, have such potential. The event on Sunday was enabled by the New Diorama’s ‘All our Sundays’ which hands the theatre over to anyone wanting to run events for young people. This week was the turn of Paper Balloon, who performed Night Light. The benefit of teaming networking events with a performance is that encourages people to attend and draws attention to the real point of collaboration – to create great work!