Nathaniel Butterfield and Patricia Nesbitt. *File photos
Nathaniel Butterfield and Patricia Nesbitt. *File photos

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23: The task of gathering the opinions of an entire country’s creative community is no mean feat — regardless of how small our little country may be.

Some 535 participants have been involved in the Appreciative Inquiry process for the proposed building of a new Performing Arts Centre in Bermuda (see lead story on page 15). The process seeks to focus on positive contributions from members of the community who collectively decide on its design and function. During Phase 1, participants were interviewed one-on-one about their experiences in the cultural landscape that makes up our island. During Phase 2 there have been a series of round table discussions involving the likes of actors, musicians, organizers, producers, audience members and technicians.

We spoke to some of the participants chosen to sit in on Phase 1 and 2, each of them key players in Bermuda’s creative community.

  • Nathaniel Butterfield, President of the Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society

“I can certainly see the need for the performing arts community in Bermuda to have more performance, rehearsal and pre-production space through my own experiences — but the appreciative inquiry method is one that helps you down the path of agreement.

“One of the best things I found about the process was that BMDS sat down at a table with people from Bermuda International Film Festival, Troika, the Gilbert and Sullivan Society and other organizations.  These other organizations don’t have some of the advantages we do (owning our own stage is a huge boost to putting on shows) and we’d like to be able to offer assistance to other groups.

“The problem we have with hosting other groups is that our stage is constantly busy with either a show running or pre-production for the next.

“The fact that we receive such requests from time to time only reinforces the desirability of a group of varied performance spaces available to all. The conversations between the performing arts groups in Bermuda will be one of the best things to come out of this project — even beyond any eventual bricks and mortar.

  • Patricia Nesbitt, a well- known local actress, director and producer

“The Appreciative Inquiry method was a stroke of genius. There is no doubt in mind that every effort was made to ensure that every possible stakeholder in this venture was part of the dialogue, the questions asked were concise and appropriate to the project, and our responses were recorded word for word so that there is a true record of what was discussed.

"Sustainable"

“In a nutshell, this Performing Arts Centre must be affordable, sustainable and available to fulfil the needs of every Bermudian Artist no matter the genre of work, and that existing centres for Art are kept in the picture.  Also the standards of performance for use must either be, or headed towards and international standard, and that time would not be an issue when artists want to create work into early hours of the morning if they feel that’s necessary for creating their best work.  I would like to be assured that qualified Bermudians are hired to work in the centre.”

  • Shoa Bean, co-founder of performing arts group TROIKA

“I suggested that their needs to first be a unity amongst the performing arts entities that are already in existence so that when this facility/programme is completed, we all already have a rapport with one another in order to ensure that we are together targeting the same goal which is to train and expose Bermudian artist to high quality performing arts opportunities and provide them with a fully functional environment in which they can showcase their talents/art, while staying in the line with our individual styles and missions.

“Also, this Performing Arts Centre needs to also become a training ground for those that are interested in the technical/backstage aspects of the Arts, with full facilities to do so in.

“The idea that stuck out to me the most was the idea of making “The Arts” a culture not just an activity... making the performing arts centre the place to hang out for artists, with lounge areas for artists to perform, areas for artists to showcase work, multiple playing areas for companies to display large and small productions, and practice rooms for artists/companies to prepare works to be displayed.”