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DR AUDREY TANG

 Award-winning business author and broadcaster

Leadership trainer and coach

Keynote speaker

  • Writer's pictureAudrey Tang

Why I champion the Arts



In 2012 I produced 3 shows within 4 months - and they were big ones:

"That Face" at Camden's Etcetera Theatre which supported Mind; "Disney's Beauty and the Beast" at The Chrysalis Milton Keynes supporting the Mayoral Charity; and "Fawlty Towers" (2 episodes as the Malaysian premiere) at The Penang Performing Arts Centre, in support of Domestic Abuse charities in Penang. I'd just been awarded my PhD and I was doing a 'stop gap' short term cover as a primary teacher prior to starting as a lecturer at a local FE college - we'd also moved house. At that time my (now) husband had also just been given the all-clear from Hodgkins Lymphoma...there was a lot going on and 3 shows where you're managing a community based cast with their own lives and commitments was no mean feat.


Jump to 2024, and I have barely the energy to manage one a year...in fact, my last production was "Steel Magnolias" in 2022 raising money for and awareness of Diabetes UK, and before and since, it's concerts or events.


It's why it made sense to turn the theatre group that I'd been spearheading, CLICK Productions, into CLICK Arts Foundation a grant giving charity to inspire groups to do what I had done for 30+ years.


My personal journey


CLICK started as a Theatre group with my parents being its first “Theatre Angels” with the aim to show that young people of Hastings Town who were getting a poor reputation, could do something positive. Our first show – co-written by my friends and I (all at uni at the time) supported 5 local charities the RNLI, Age Concern, the NSPCC and two local charities – the Ashburnham Horse Rescue Centre, and X-Trax – a local appeal to create a “drop in centre” – which is now an award-winning thriving service, and raised £250 plus we received the first Mayoral Award for community service.

Job done!


Maybe not! Buoyed by this success, and having formed some firm friendships - there's nothing like "behind the scenes" crises averted which brings you close, the following year we began running drama workshops with local schools and “The Gateway Club” (Now Hastings & Bexhill Mencap), before progressing to our first “Full Scale” production in 1994 “A Slice of Saturday Night” (The Heather Brothers) receiving “The Gateway Award” and the “DeMelza Children’s Award”.


Then we were being asked to "spread the word". 1995 saw us go international invitation from the United Nations Malaysia Association (UNMA) to take a production to Kuala Lumpur to work with University Students – so we produced “The Pocket Dream” (Brewer & Toksvig), and raised the money for flights (accommodation was paid for by UNMA) through local community events in Hastings where the show team were supported by a number of local businesses, and a travel grant from “The Friends of UCL”. The show ran at both the Matic Centre, in front of the Malaysian King and Queen, as well as the University of Kebangsaan with the proceeds supporting World Refugees. All performances sold out.


By 1995, the old team were going their separate ways - uni, work, and personal commitments were taking over, so as well as the workshops, I began mini fundraisers in Hastings during holidays from university, building in new members of the cast and team – many with no formal arts training, who built their confidence through being involved. We supported The Tree of Hope and the DeMelza Children’s Appeal – winning the DeMelza Award once again. But by 96, my ties to Hastings were thinning, but while you can take the girl our of the theatre...


In 1996, I formed a small band of performers on my psychology course and we worked with the UCL Rag Week team producing A Slice of Saturday Night” (The Heather Brothers) once again, this time at The Bloomsbury Theatre (we got a prize for the largest amount of money raised in RAG), and I'd also joined the University of London Ballroom and Latin American Dance Society (BALADS), to support the Tommy’s Campaign, and even running a “mini Strictly” at the White Rock Theatre in Hastings in the Policeman’s Charity Ball in 1997.


From 1999-2001 the community work moved to Oxford - because I'd moved there - and joined in partnership with The Kirsty Forbes School of Dancing running dance and drama workshops with Witney & District Mencap, Cross-Roads and TAMS, as well as producing variety shows and pantomimes with the proceeds supporting local charities – including OXRAD – a sports centre for the physically disabled, the Headington Pensioner’s Christmas Appeal, and the West Oxford Community Centre. This partnership won the Dance School of the Year Award and the Witney & District Mencap Volunteer award.


Then, from 2001 – 2010 I worked alongside The College of Law producing shows which complimented the legal training by offering teaching staff, and students performance opportunities building and embedding confidence in public speaking, learning new skills, and teamwork. This led to an invitation to produce “ROMERO” (Daly & Bauress) a new musical about the life of Oscar Romero working with The Romero Trust, and even showcasing the songs on Vatican Radio!



During 2003-2007 I was also teaching in Hertfordshire, and with the school, following CLICK’s values of opportunity for all, produced Richard III (Shakespeare) at The Barnet Arts Depot being part of a Guinness World Record; Chess The Musical (Andersson, Ulvaeus & Rice) having extracts showcased at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London; and Jesus Christ Superstar (Lloyd-Webber & Rice) being taken to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it ran for 8 performances.


From 2010 to 2015 CLICK produced plays, musicals and even a concert at local venues in support of local charities. I established a core team but invited and welcomed a “rolling” cast and production support, for both sustainability and inclusivity welcoming anyone who simply wanted to have a go! This work resulted in invitations to run workshops in France, and a second invitation to Malaysia – this time from The Little Penang Street Market and Penang Performing Arts Centre where we ran dance and combat workshops as well as performing the, said, Malaysian Premier of Fawlty Towers (Cleese & Booth); and productions such as The Full Monty using the London Touring Set; and Return to the Forbidden Planet with an actor-musician cast.


I am so proud of the amount of money we've raised for so many worthy causes, the number of people we've supported via participation as well as perhaps escapism, and the opportunities we've given.



But in honesty, I was... and still am, getting older, and now, nearly 10 years on from that CLICK runs workshops and events with very limited shows, selected purely to create awareness and fundraise for specific charity causes (and when I have time and energy...and cash flow), for example – Calendar Girls (Firth) to highlight blood cancer in support of Leukaemia Research; Gaslight (Hamilton) in support of Mind – to draw attention to co-ercive control and gaslighting; 12th Night (Shakespeare) (a lockdown film) in support of Hope – the cast also released a promo about the charity; and Steel Magnolias (Harling) to focus on diabetes and support Diabetes UK.


What I got from the arts

I am a leadership trainer and business author with a focus on management and wellbeing - both I have built very solidly through my theatre work. There is nothing like community theatre to teach you that you cannot motivate by money; similarly, because the commitment isn't the same you become extra adept at building in contingencies and fighting fires - quickly (sometimes even 30 minutes before curtain up).


But as well as problem solving and planning skills (with a dose of marketing thrown in), I have benefitted from the personal highlights of working with incredible people, seeing others achieve what they never thought possible, and I have formed friendships which have lasted well beyond the production.


I have been able to give opportunities to people - and seen them walk taller for grabbing them, as well as raise money for great causes, and - most importantly to me - have consolidated the essential strengths of reliability, respect for every member of the team, and learning how my actions impact others.


THAT is why I get so frustrated when I see people taking money away from the arts because they cannot see the value.


THAT is why, when my mum passed and my dad sold our family home and wanted to give me some money to carry on what I started, we formed CLICK Arts Foundation, registered charity 1203549

...and every 6 months we give grants of up to £2000 to grassroots arts projects that fulfil the key values we've always held:

Community

Learning

Inclusion

Communication

Kindness

...and there is enough in the pot to last approx 8 years, limiting donations to £12000 per year (£6000 per 6 month cycle)


Having only just formed last year we have so far supported:

The United African Association Dancing Drums - mental health drumming workshops

G-Stars Dance - tech equipment to continue to produce shows so they aren't constrained by venue costs

Groundworks East/Youth TV - volunteer budget to support those wanting to be involved in Film production

Clapton Common Pottery - Boys pottery club

The Albanian Cultural Association - preservation of heritage and language through drama


I do however run Burlesque classes for self confidence, and my squad have performed in two fundraising wellbeing events last year, with a view to doing more.


The benefits I still see in people who attend my sessions - as well as who get involved with the wonderful groups we have supported so far - go well beyond the cost of the class.


Addressing the Crisis in the Arts

If you look at my previous blog, I write about how I fully agree that if people aren't coming, then don't put the show on - BUT the funding we offer through CLICK is about helping people get to the stage where they can even have that opportunity. In 2022 The Arts Council of England cut £50million from London-based Arts organisations and this is a pattern that has been repeated locally - the arts are simply not seen as important enough nor valuable enough to sustain.


Again I say - sustainability means you need to have had the chance to get started!


If you want to donate to CLICK Arts Foundation , please visit: https://www.clickartsfoundation.org.uk/howtosupport.html




Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and award-winning business author. She runs Wellbeing Media Studio, hosts Mental Health Matters on e360tv, and produces Skits and Quibbles: the arts and wellness show - giving upcoming performers the chance to shine - on the same network via her studio. She delivers training and keynotes in the area of wellbeing in leadership and organisations, and shimmies her stuff on the dance floor every Wednesday teaching Burlesque.



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