The Studio 1 Workshop Manifesto – 2003

| October 15, 2012

In 2003, a group of degree students studying music, theatre, writing and performance at Dartington College of Arts art created this manifesto in the course of a five week module on workshop skills.

Workshop should be:

  • contained in a safe and positive environment.
  • a journey of discovery with a beginning, middle and end.

The end is not necessarily final.

Revision: I think it is good to have an open end. You can always add something if you wish to carry on your workshop in future.


  1. Give an opportunity to learn – personal development as well as new information.

Revision:  Provide its participants with fresh information to add to their bank of knowledge.

In a Workshop:  Everyone creates an experience consisting of what has been discovered and revealed by the participants, due to the stimuli from the workshop leader.


  1. Be held as a collaboration – listening, sharing and holding ideas.
  2. Be an accessible challenge.
  3. Be an enjoyable experience.

In a workshop:

  1. Limited time does not mean limited patience.
  2. Give and take are an important feature.
  3. Process is part of the product.
  4. Inspiration and trust need to be provided by the leader/company.
  5. The leader should be prepared for expansion and manipulation of the original concept.
  6. Adaptability is needed to partake.
  7. It is important to enter a workshop space with encouragement and an open mind.
  8. Meeting and checking each other belongs to a workshop.

Revision: Often people do not know each other during the workshop. They meet for the first time and a function of workshop is to teach them how to trust and open up in the group. Many workshops are run for to check new people’s abilities to work in a group and communicate at the same level. Theatre groups sometimes run these kinds of workshops if they need new members. Workshop can check if they are suitable or not.


  1. Creating a safe environment whereby people find their freedom to play is an essential element of a workshop.
  2.  Creative license – based on perception/philosophy – the ingenious mind.
  3.  Being in the group – feeling yourself as an important part of THE WHOLE.

Revision: Everyone is equal. No one person is more important that

another, because THE WHOLE consists of EVERYONE.


  1. Developing each individual’s potential for creative play is not only essential within a workshop but within the larger context of society.
  2.  Process is more important than the result of a workshop.


Revision:  Process is what a workshop is all about. Without being over-complicated, workshops should contain a variety of

tasks to suit the interests of the group.


  1. Workshop is about being present in the moment and having fun!
  2.  A solid but flexible structure is important in a workshop.
  3. Workshop can enable cultural change.
  4. Workshop is about going from I can’t to I can.
  5.  Workshop be an experience and learning of new information.
  6. Give and take should be equal.
  7. They should take place in a safe and non-judgmental environment that allows the participants to have a positive and open mind.
  8. Workshop is about trusting the process, if you were told at the beginning what the out come may be you may feel daunted, but it is about simple steps which make the process organic.


  1. A workshop should:     Have an entrancing entrance.


  1. Be a positively memorable and inspiring experience.


  1. Be well planned and prepared, but should also consider the idea of flexibility.
  2. Allow the participants to lose themselves in the exercises they

are doing, which allows them to lose all concept of time, and become totally present to the moment.


  1. Allow the participants to be themselves. To express what they

feel they want to express and not to feel embarrassed, ashamed or stupid.


  1. Free the participants from the feeling of being judged of what they give or create during the workshop.


  1. Free the participants from the pressures of the outside world.



  1. A workshop is for me a kind of INTERACTIVE ART. Well, we can say that interactive art and other interactive effects are usually associated with so-called media art, with video, computers and other technical equipment. Interactive art, however, has been around long before media art. Interactivity occurs in many forms and is to be found in many different forms of artistic realization. Sometimes is good to look at obvious things – for example: HOW is the word built… INTERACTION (INTER + ACTION = action between substances, ideas, people). For various reasons, artistic interaction is in fashion today and enjoys great popularity – probably because many people can relate to it, need it even. This explains, in a way, the phenomenon of workshops. The characteristic feature, or essence of interactive art and other interactive effects (so workshops as well) is the CREATION of situations, in which the taker gets into direct, deep contact with the object in question. Interactive works are created for people and without them it would not exist. These works usually invite communication and open up when we approach them. They require touch, active interfacing. They are not there to calm the taker down or to soothe him, but to activate him, to make him the co-author. So that’s why workshops may provoke strange reactions. Sometimes they expose our vunerability. However, they very often invite, or force us to be physically and emotionally active. For me  – to make  a good workshop is to search for interactive situations whereby, the people involved, step by step, become one group.
  2. There should be no sense of pressure or competition in regard to creativity and originality in workshop


  1. The first and most important rule of a workshop is to have all

mobile phones switched off.

39. A workshop should integrate everyone and be sensitive to as          many sensibilities as possible.

40.  They should be well planned and structured so that they progress gradually and no one gets left behind or stranded in a subject they perhaps don’t understand.

  1. The leader should try and remain in control at all times, knowing exactly what they want the group to do, making instructions clear and simple.

42.  Potential imagination should be limitless. A free/practical/making’ workshop should have as many materials as possible so as people are not limited.

43.The leader(s) should be aware of the people partaking in the workshop. For example, running a workshop for small children will require much more control, planning and safety awareness.

44. The leader should always try to engage on the same level as the group. Older people do not liked to be patronised and younger ones will not understand if things are not clearly explained.


45. Above all, a workshop should be a unique experience that people are going to remember, whatever age group.

46. It has to be fun and educational at the same time so that the people can take new skills away and let others know of the experience. That is how workshop stays alive.


47.  Workshop- framing the imagination

Workshops can establish a sense of community.  This is a vital aspect of workshop, as “community” seems to be lost in present day society.  We all imagine that we are all equal and the threads of society are woven to create a refuge called “community”.  But we live in a fragmented space /time/place/memory.  “Community” to most- if not all- people is perceived to be something broken, something that is lost and even non-existent.  It is for this reason that the notion of community is so important to people, because it is something that has still not been attained and yet it is dreamt of and imagined constantly.  I feel that it is this imagination- the “imaginary community”- that situates the notion of workshop today.  Opening the imagination opens perception also- perhaps workshop is part of the healing process for community.  By opening the senses it may be possible to communicate- which is what community is lacking now *

Like communities needing accessibility for those who are part of the community:

Workshops must be ACCESSIBLE to those taking the workshop.


Workshop = access/path   Workshop leader = guide to the path


*(There is an extract from a book called Annotations (National Touring Exhibitions, I think) that I would like to insert for this manifesto but I don’t have the book on me so will email it tomorrow- although it won’t be added to the manifesto it may be useful for the portfolios.)



Process/Product————————————– these elements cannot be separated


Micro/Macro      (the Macro cannot be perceived without the Micro- and vice versa)



It is crucial to recognise and act upon individual elements within a workshop in order to realise the workshop as a whole (and vice versa).







International (Universal)




A workshop is a dialogue.  The workshop leader facilitates a workshop through dialogue- communication- in order to let the imagination flourish.


—The workshop leader is, in a sense (or- in essence), a STORY TELLER


(Art = Skill) + (Play = Communication) + (Art = Play) + (Communication = Art) +

(Skill = Communication) + (Play = Skill) = PERFORMANCE


The leader must take into consideration and recognise in a workshop its:

Dramaturgy; Pathology; Economy; Rhythm; Architecture; Direction; Notation…


…exploration; experimentation; intuition; application; initiative; chance; co-incidence; situation; levitation; ritual; spontaneity; progression; evocation…


48. A ‘workshop’ is an ambiguous term that can interpreted and executed in a huge variety of ways. Creating structure and form from space and imagination, a workshop is a level playing field for sharing skills and knowledge whilst harbouring and maintaining a thirst for expanding ones mind. The word ‘work’ should not be interpreted as labour but as a self-motivated progression of self, the word ‘shop’ is not what can be bought or sold but what can be given and shared, a ‘workshop’ should help expand the attributes of individuals involved in a free, creative and inspiring environment. A workshop’s role is to smooth out the apparent distinctions between us, to allow the learning process to be a collective and creative one, and to give a personal gift to the group which is our true-self. There are few greater gifts we can give than the unmasked and uncompromised person we really are. Through workshops we can, and will, learn to play with and distort the normalities of life, to take uncertainty and build something positive from it, to step away from embarrassment and inhibitions and to learn by doing. It is a good analogy to think of the workshop process as similar to that of the life of a developing child, as a baby we have no common grounding in language and our eyes are open to the endless possibilities of life itself. Gradually we are introduced to aspects of life yet we are not expected to master them only understand why they are there, we watch and listen and try to make sense of this new world until a point when we start to feel comfortable within our surroundings; then we begin our personal interaction with it. Our interaction and collaboration within this world (and its workshops) is augmented by our exploration and experimentation within it.

Like workshops there should be no goal for life, it is a process that should be enjoyed to the highest possible degree whilst not inhibiting any path of those sharing our journey. It is not where we get, it is how we get there, not what we know but what we can learn, not what can I do but what can WE do when we work together.


49. We continuously learn everyday, from life situations to education. Workshops are a focus of this learning process.

50. They explore a concept that will form within the context it is created in.

51. Workshops are a learning process, created to be accessible and enjoyable for all its participants.




Category: The workshop manifesto

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Director of School of Workshop

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