Image of conference in the middle bay of 101.  Artists having a discussion while sitting on chairs in a circle. Some artists standing and talking while looking at posters on wall

Devoted and Disgruntled


101 Labs in Association with Improbable

Takes place annually, 101 Outdoor Arts

Each year since the launch of 101 Outdoor Arts Creation Space 2014, 101 has partnered with Improbable to host an Open Space meeting. The overarching question given as an invitation has usually been: ‘How do we make great outdoor arts?’

Simon Chatterton, who was Head of Outdoor Arts at Corn Exchange Newbury in 2014, first started the event with these words:

"I don’t see this as another discussion about funding and why there is never enough (but then maybe you do?). Indeed if our ambition didn’t always exceed our resources I feel we would be guilty of a woeful lack of vision. Instead, I hope that we can begin a dialogue about how we best create the work we love - outdoor arts, street arts, art in public space…whatever term you prefer.

"I hope this event will be a step towards a shared understanding of how our particular magic can be made; in streets, parks, city squares and other outdoor spaces across the country. A discussion with art and artists at the heart of it and to which anyone who is passionate about outdoor arts is welcomed."

Participants are invited to this free annual Open Space event for a day to share their experiences, perspectives and aspirations, and to reflect on the questions that they want to ask and discuss around outdoor arts.

Open Space an exciting way for groups of people to think, talk and take action together. In an Open Space event, a group of participants self-organises and create their own meeting agenda for the day.

Free flowing conversations take place and participants are invited to take notes and create reports on the sessions that they’ve attended, which are shared with everyone afterwards. By the end of the day, everything that's important to everyone will have been discussed, as long as all participants took responsibility for raising them.

Questions that participants have come up with at past sessions have included:

  • How do we develop new ideas and techniques in our work?
  • What are the creation processes behind outdoor work? Do we share any common ground?
  • Can we learn from each other?
  • Where can we learn from other countries and cultures?
  • How do we develop new ideas and techniques in our work?
  • What are the new technologies that are exciting for the outdoors? How have these worked for us – or not?

And many other diverse questions posed by the participants on the day.

2020 WTF: Where do we go from here?

In 2020, the COVID 19 pandemic meant that we were unable to have a face to face event, so Improbable hosted a special 4 hour online open space session.

More than 150 people attended, showing the desire for people from the sector to keep in contact and keep the conversations going through such a challenging time.

Questions and topics raised included:

  • What do we do about the weather?
  • Communities trust as an audience, connected to COVID.
  • How can we work with nature to honour ancient storytelling practices
  • How do we get back outdoors safely?
  • How do we convert Outdoor uncertainty into creativity?
  • In the age of COVID, how do those of us who are now classed as "clinically vulnerable" continue to be the driving force and energy behind productions integrating community performers?
  • Outdoor Work by and about local rivers as a community arts project.
  • Should we be designing new outdoors spaces?
  • How do we repurpose derelict spaces / places.
  • How to make work locally, make a living when there is no money locally
  • How might we play with online and outdoor working, both for performer and audience?
  • Can puppets outdoors do anything else but walk?

Report from '2020 WTF?'

You can read the full report from 2020 WTF? via this link to Improbable Theatre's website.

Read Report
Image of words cut out from newspapers and magazines to make a small paragraph message.
A small group of people sit of chairs in a circle having a discussion.