Why we do what we do

Our values (Kindness, Brilliance, Transformation, Curiosity, Wellbeing, Collaboration) combined with our ‘six big ideas’ (about artist process & support; access & participation; climate conscience; agency, equity & diversity; nurture & resilience) – weave through our work and guide our choices and interactions.

We are interested in people and place, and the things that bind people to place. We’re interested in people power, cultural democracy, collective decision making and the positive transformation that groups of people working together can effect, especially through the arts and culture.

And we believe that artists have a responsibility to their communities and their cities, and that small and agile, but connected, organisations working strategically can affect big and meaningful change.

Talking Birds’ 6 Big Ideas

These 6 Big Ideas have been with us a long time, but they are endlessly inspiring and there’s always more to do…

To define, and be leading exponents of, a Theatre of Place. The core of Talking Birds’ artistic work, Theatre of Place is that which explores, and seeks to illuminate the profound and complex relationships between people and place. Growing out of this confluence between place, community and idea, Talking Birds’ work often answers an unspoken audience demand – it puts the work in a place where something needs to happen but perhaps, until it does, no-one realised how much it was needed, or wanted. 

To revolutionise the creative possibilities of accessibility. We put access at the centre of our creative process because we think that to be effective in creating truly inclusive and accessible work, access and inclusion must be hard-wired in from the beginning of every project. We developed the Difference Engine, to open up small-scale touring, experimental and site-specific work for people with sensory impairments who have previously been excluded from such work by lack of appropriate and affordable access solutions – and to encourage artists to take creative responsibility for decisions about access. 

To make work that is diverse, inclusive and empowering for those involved. We want to live in a world which is equitable and regenerative for all people and for the planet; where there is connection, cooperation and nurture for all. The development of The Nest is the next step for us – our opportunity to put down roots – to bring people together and build a nurturing and regenerative creative community that shares our values and can make real and lasting change happen.

To help reinvent the training required for the sector’s next generation. Supported commissions as a young theatre company encouraged us to learn through doing, forging deep bonds with the city – meaning that we are still making work in Coventry 30 years later, and exploring innovative and relevant ways to pay that early investment forward. All this learning has fuelled the creation of the supported Nest Residency Programme and curated events designed to grow the creative community around The Nest. 

To be green theatre makers. We believe that theatre needs re-thinking. Although things are changing, it is an historically wasteful profession with deeply entrenched ways of doing things. We aim to be part of the change and (particularly through embodying these values at The Nest) to provoke other creative practitioners to make better choices about what is actually *needed*; environmentally responsible materials and techniques for designing & making work; and ways of designing & making that are thought-through, circular, and prioritise re-purposing or sharing existing items.

To be financially healthy, sustainable, and efficient. We’re a small and agile company – used to fundraising here, there and everywhere to make our work, and fortunate to have been part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio for a number of years. The creation of The Nest is a big change for us and, we hope, a gamechanger of a resource for all the amazing small-scale, independent and non-building-based artists in Coventry – those we know, and those we don’t know yet. (If that’s you, do get in touch…]

Talking Birds is values driven and actively working for change – in our own work and through our support for Culture Declares Emergency & More Than A Moment – read about our MTAM action plan here.