Dear friends and colleagues,

Following from my last post – regarding the recent debates over Arts and Education (etc!) – here’s the initial announcement of the D&D event i’m helping to put together…


Who are we, and what are we planning?

Theatre company Improbable, along with Jo Mackie and Robert Daniels, are organising a nationwide, participant-led 2 day conference this Autumn about what is happening in our Education system. The event will be run in Open Space and it will be open to ANYONE & EVERYONE who cares about the future of education in the UK. The results of the conference will be documented and presented to policy-makers with a view to instigating change and action.

We want to aim for an attendance of 200-300 people from all over the country – including teachers, parents, students, union reps, education managers, and policy-makers.

What is Open Space?

Open Space is a way of holding very democratic forum events where the participants set the agenda and everyone’s voice gets heard. We at Improbable have paired up with Jo because we all shared a concern and passion for education, and particularly for the way in which current practice is marginalising the arts and sports. We wanted to hold an Open Space on education as a way of allowing those concerned to get together and work out a way to solve, or at least begin to address, some of the current problems within state education. It’s a great way of tackling complex issues with lots of differing opinions, so it seemed appropriate as a way to improve communications between the various people connected to education practice and policy.

Is this a political event?

We are not affiliated with any political party, and this event has no affiliation either. We want to hold an event where anyone and everyone who cares about education can come together – teachers, students, policy-makers, arts practitioners, sports-people, parents, left- wingers, right-wingers, those who aren’t sure… We will not be restricting entry based on political affiliation, age, belief etc. The only restriction will be venue capacity.

That said, we cannot make any guarantees about whether or not the event becomes political as it goes on, as this is totally down to whoever turns up. The agenda is created by participants on the day – there are no key-note speakers or presentations. It’s simply an opportunity for anyone with an idea, a question, a project, a moan or a plan to do some work on the things they care about. We won’t be telling people what to talk about, or censoring their conversations.

What do we need?

We are primarily looking for a space that will accommodate this event. Are you able offer a suitable space, and would you be willing to donate that space in kind? We need a large, clear room for 2 days (we imagined it would be best over a weekend), and plenty of free-standing, moveable (adult-sized!) chairs. We also need to be able to stick things to the walls using paint-friendly masking tape (some signs that help people navigate the format, and the timetable that the participants create over the course of the event). We are aiming for about 250-300 participants, and they will need plenty of room to move around.

We also need to raise some funds – we are keen to keep costs for participants to an absolute minimum so that we don’t exclude anyone based on income, but there are still things we need to pay for. Do you know of any funds or funders who may be able to contribute a sum of any size to support this event, or provide other things as support-in- kind? (Eg, a PA system, or marketing channels/support).

Find out more:

For more information on Improbable as a company, and Open Space as a format, please have a look here:

There’s a film documenting Improbable’s LOCOG-funded 2012 Devoted and Disgruntled Roadshow here, which gives you a great idea of how Open Space works:!

If you have any questions or concerns, or just want to talk it over directly, please feel free to call Sarah or Kirsty on 020 7240 4556, or email us via

Any other responses or needs, please get in touch with me off-list.


Robert Jude Daniels

Senior Lecturer in Theatre

Performing Arts Department

University of Chichester