CRIPticArts: Broadening our Practice

CRIPtic is my baby – but it’s not just mine. It was built as a community project. If I had to estimate the number of people who’ve been involved with it, it would be in the three figures comfortably, and that’s not including audiences.

Three years ago I must have been writing the first funding application for the first project – our Barbican showcase – and it must have been then that my now-partner suggested the name. I loved that name from the off, but I’d never thought of the arts, or of organisation-building, as a career. I wanted to perform, I wanted to curate the showcase, but actually working in the arts? Inconceivable.

It was only last year, as I started to build our events and mentoring, that I realised CRIPtic could be an organisation, and that I could lead it.

This was an incredible experience, and I went for it. I worked myself into the ground in the process, risking my health, happiness, and even my marriage.

When it comes to opportunities, I grab them. That means applying for everything, doing everything, and working on growing CRIPtic as an organisation. But I can’t do it all, and I was foolish to try. It’s easy to be a jack of all trades (better than a master of one), but I am not an expert in all the things CRIPtic is doing. Recognising that has been transformational. I’m not strong in the details of producing, but Caitlin is excellent at it. Community-building around a campaign – there are better people than myself, and the same for research and policy development. 

One of the harder lessons I’m learning is that CRIPtic’s success relies on me letting go a bit. That means employing other people on my projects, and accepting that I’ll lose the detail of control. But also the work – and the money. However, I want us to succeed, and that means going beyond myself. It means trusting other people to do great work. Being a proper organisation – not just a project. Letting it belong to more than myself.

You’ll have seen that we’ve been recruiting for various roles – including research and community ones. We’re delighted to be partnering with two INCREDIBLE freelancers on projects including:

  • Changing the narrative in which inaccessible work is acceptable by working across the theatre sector to research, create, and embed a set of feasible minimum standards of access. Funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation
  • Developing and creating an online tool to help people create access riders through a series of questions and prompts. Funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation
  • Carrying out groundbreaking research into provisions for people facing the highest physical access barriers working in the London theatre industry. Funded by the Arts Council

These were projects I’d planned to undertake myself. After much consideration, I realised that I needed to take a step back from them. I’m not the best person to do everything CRIPtic does, and as it grows I want to be bringing more and more people into our projects and networks. I want to be reaching out, and growing.

Broadening our practice means training, supporting, and trusting other people to make decisions, to produce work, and to design, grow, and lead CRIPtic in directions informed by their own knowledge and experience – which far outpaces mine.

When you’ve built an organisation from the ground up, it can be hard to recognise that it’s time for you to step back, and hand over power and control to other people. It is something organisations of all sizes struggle with it, whether charities, CICs, businesses, or otherwise. It’s also a wonderful point to be at.

I get to watch the organisation grow – to watch it take wing and fly – and for me, to be able to work with incredible people on marvellous projects. It allows me to commit time to my creative work, to taking time and space for myself, and to applying for more funding to let us grow even bigger.

Here’s to that future!