Why and how we travel

As an international festival, travel is essential for our practice. But now more than ever we need to be conscious of when, how and why we travel. We've developed a rationale for travel informed by our desire for a fairer, more equitable arts sector.

Travel for research and development is one of the ways LIFT expands and maintains our knowledge and awareness of international artistic practice, artists, presenters and organisations. 

Travel is how we see artists and the projects we are considering for our festival. It’s how we stay up to date with trends, practices and names in international theatre. It allows us to create, deepen and nourish professional networks with our colleagues, including other presenters, funding bodies and more. We need the knowledge we get from travel to make sure we position the work we bring to London in the best possible way. And so we can bring it to the best partners to go on tour.

Travel helps LIFT keep our edge and it allows others to benefit from our detailed knowledge and contacts abroad. 

But travel in the current context needs to be well thought through. That’s why we opened our commission Concept Touring – to discover ways of touring work with little to no travel. And that’s why we’ve developed a rationale for our team travel that’s connected to our wider environmental policy, as well as to the audiences we want to engage with. Our travel policy is informed by our desire to help create a fairer and more equitable arts sector.

There are many brilliant international festivals that – in line with our policy – we cannot justify attending. To balance this, we’ve developed a strong and dynamic network of colleagues who share their experiences of the festivals we cannot attend. Whenever possible, we commission those colleagues to write about what they’ve seen, so we can share that intelligence even further. And we do the same – sharing our insights and experiences internationally with colleagues in the sector. This means LIFT can continue to be relevant and connected to art, artists and others working in the sector around the world.

We use the list of criteria below as a tool to decide if we should travel or not. At least two of the criteria need to be fulfilled for us to go. Although it’s maybe not an exciting read, we wanted to publish our approach to travel to be transparent about the challenges we face and the solutions we are developing.

Our criteria for travel

We travel…

  • To see multiple artists in a festival programme – to see works and artists that fit with the artistic principles of our programme, with our interests and those of our partners.
  • To see a specific artist whose work we are interested in or that we are following or because we have received a tip that they could be exciting for LIFT. We may travel to see a specific show, to deepen knowledge of an artists’ body of work, to continue an existing relationship with an artist that we are interested in programming for the next festival, or working with in a longer-term sense. When we travel to see someone in particular, we get in touch in advance and arrange a meeting.
  • To proactively work towards fulfilling the quotas we have committed to programming, i.e. to see work by artists from the global south, disabled artists, to achieve our goals for a gender balance. We acknowledge that travel further afield to Black and Brown majority places must begin to take precedence over travel to more convenient (cheaper, more accessible) destinations within Europe (or other predominantly White destinations).
  • To develop relationships with artists and places most negatively affected by the climate crisis so LIFT can contribute to climate justice in the arts.
  • To get to know a certain festival programme, to explore the potential of a future international presenting or commissioning collaboration, or for inspiration around the style of festival they have built or the strategies they use.
  • To see work in a venue or public space similar to one we will be using and to enhance our production understanding, e.g. to see a work outdoors, a work on water…
  • To see a complex work that we’re presenting that needs production, communications or fundraising team members to understand it by being there on the ground.
  • To enhance professional development within our team, e.g. to attend networking, training sessions, or for peer-to-peer development.
  • To contribute to international sectoral knowledge by attending and participating in conferences, panels or thinking groups.
  • To establish and uphold partner relationships, either with past partners/funders or with potential new ones.
  • To develop business opportunities and meet partners for LIFT-led co-productions and commissions.
  • To learn about or develop ties to a specific region or a territory.
  • To take advantage of travel supported financially by an artist or partner and expand upon those trips to make the most of the opportunity. 

This list of criteria sits alongside other questions we ask ourselves when thinking about travel. These include: who within the LIFT team should travel (can just one person go or does more than one team member need to travel); how they should travel (could they go by train?); and for how long (extending travel opportunities to see as many performances or meet as many artists and partners as possible, is one way to maximise the benefits each time someone from LIFT travels abroad).

Building on this work we are currently setting detailed targets around the travel we take. We want to make sure we can map our carbon consumption and environmental impact properly and will publish our targets here as soon as they are set.

Help bring brave and unforgettable global theatre to London

Starting from just £3.33 per month, LIFT members receive exclusive insights, priority booking and recognition on our website.