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1. About Us - Our team
2. The Story So Far - Work on Hasbian and Queer Diary, 2018-2022
5. How We Work - With Queer Diary community partners & participants
6. Confirmed Venues - For Hasbian London run & Queer Diary pilot tour
7. Queer Diary zine - Co-creation, print, and distribution of our 2nd mini-magazine
Beth Watson - Writer/Performer of Hasbian & Host/Facilitator of Queer Diary
Beth is the Co-Director of Queer Diary CIC, and founder of Bechdel Theatre CIC (a grassroots organisation that supports, amplifies and connects people of marginalised genders in the performing arts), and a Roundhouse Accelerator Prize-winner (Self-Made programme for Creative Entrepreneurs, 2023). Beth is also a founding-member of Stanley Arts' Croydon Emerging Writers group (CREW), and sits on the board of directors for QAFSpace digital LGBTQIA+ community events hub.
Performer credits include: Hasbian R&D (Camden People's Theatre, The Pleasance); Sing-derella (Omnibus Theatre); MANdemonium: A Drag King Cabaret (VAULT Festival, Omnibus Theatre, Camden People's Theatre); #BinariesBegone (R&D with Access All Areas); The Family Jewels: POWER (DIY Space Peckham); The Unfortunate Bisexual (Edinburgh Fringe); Article 10 (Camden Fringe Festival).
Beth is an experienced facilitator specialising in supporting LGBTQIA+ creative expression, and preventing gendered oppression. Beth has delivered creative workshops for Spotlight, Bristol University, Roehampton University, Florida State University, Oregon University, The Mono Box, The Barbican, The Science Gallery, Kings College London, Tender Arts, Nomadic Youth, and L Fest (Award-nominated 'Best Workshop').
As a writer, Beth recently had a piece published in a book 'Twenty-Eight: Stories from The Section 28 Generation', and co-wrote a report, 'Job Juggling Creative Freelancers: Shaping London's Recovery', published by Freelancers Make Theatre Work, with support from the Mayor of London, Fuel Theatre, and STAMP Network of Performance venues. In 2023, Beth joined the team of guides creating tours for Queer Tours of London, and was commissioned to write an original script for an LGBTQIA+ History Tour of Vauxhall. Currently, Beth is working as a writer on a collaborative site-specific performance piece to be performed at Stanley Arts in Croydon in February 2024, as part of their Writing Redefined programme.
Josephine Shipp - Creative Producer of Hasbian & Queer Diary
Josie is Co-Director of Queer Diary CIC, Creative Producer of Sprezzatura Productions, and an independent freelance Producer & Production Manager, with experience of producing across the UK and managing budgets of £100k+.
Currently, Josie is Associate Producer of Sugar Coat, an award-winning queer feminist pop-punk live music play, running at Southwark Playhouse in Spring 2023.
Josie's producing credits include: Sell-out run of Glamrou: From Quran to Queen (Soho Theatre Main House, 2021). Hasbian R&D (CPT, 2021, The Pleasance 2022), Queer Diary (Omnibus, 2021, Stanley Arts, 2022, Croydonites Festival 2022, Glass House 2022 ), V&V (VAULT Festival 2020 - VAULT Origins Award & OFFCOM award), Nine Foot Nine (2x Offie Award nominated, The Bunker, London & Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh 2018), Incoming Festival (Tobacco Factory Bristol, HOME Manchester & New Diorama, London 2019), Baby Box (King’s Head Theatre, 2018 & York Theatre Royal, 2019);
Queer Diary CIC
Queer Diary is a Community Interest Company recently founded by Beth and Josie, following 2+ years of collaboration on successful ACE-funded Queer Diary & Hasbian work, producing affordable activities for LGBTQIA+ people to creatively share coming-of-age memories.
Our work has a focus on benefitting underserved communities historically excluded from queer social spaces (which are often expensive, inaccessible, and centre cis gay men). Our CIC is an Equity-led LGBTQIA+ organisation, for a community that actively includes (but not limited to):
with representation from all these groups/experiences in our company's leadership roles.
Our performance events, workshops, and zines aim to facilitate community connections, tackling loneliness and isolation. We do this by providing a supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ people to share something meaningful from their real lives, whilst bonding and making friends, in an inclusive and interactive setting that's filled with fun, humour, empathy, and solidarity.
This project supports a key stage of development for us, taking Hasbian/Queer Diary from being a one-off artistic project, to establishing our long-term plans for how we intend to work and grow as a company, and strategically building our relationships with partners, audiences, and participants.
Hasbian & Queer Diary - 2023 Supporting Document
The Story So Far
Beth shares some old teenage diary entries, just for for fun, at an open-mic night called 'Dear Diary'.
Encouraged by audience members and event organisers Beth starts writing a show (Hasbian) from these diaries.
Beth has the idea to run an open-mic diary-reading event specifically for LGBTQIA+ people (Queer Diary) supporting others to share their teenage diaries and memories in a space created for our community.
Beth writes the first draft of Hasbian.
Extracts of Hasbian shared at comedy, cabaret, storytelling and scratch nights in theatres, bars and LGBTQIA+ spaces, including: The Glory, The Apple Tree, The Pleasance, The Bunker, and Omnibus Theatre.
Hasbian programmed by Omnibus Theatre & Camden People's Theatre in 2020, cancelled due to lockdown.
April 2020 Queer Diary began online, supported by QAF Space LGBTQIA+ community Zoom channel.
Monthly Queer Diary online events ran throughout 2020 with participants and audiences from across the world - from Canada to Chile.
Published a Queer Diary zine featuring contributions from participants.
ACE-supported Phase 1 R&D of Hasbian at London Performance Studios, Bermondsey, focussing on COVID-safety.
Beth started working with Josie.
Recruited our all-LGBTQIA+ & majority neurodivergent and/or disabled team.
Work-In-Progress performance of Hasbian at Camden People’s Theatre.
First in-person Queer Diary open-mic event took place and sold out at Omnibus Theatre in Clapham, alongside an exhibition of the art and artefacts from participants' teenage years.
ACE-funded Phase 2 R&D of Hasbian at Stanley Arts in Croydon with a sharing for local artists & community members, and Queer Diary at Croydonites Festival.
Began working with queer Audio Description & integrated access specialists Quiplash UK to start developing access elements for Hasbian.
Created a Queer Diary zine-making workshop for LGBTQIA+ people in Croydon, as part of Stanley Arts' Queer+ History Month season.
2 x Hasbian performances at The Pleasance in North London.
Began hosting Queer Diary monthly open-mic events at Common Press LGBTQIA+ community space in Tower Hamlets.
Queer Diary open-mic sharing nights throughout the year, with 3-5 participants reading their diaries at each, and audiences of 50+, with tickets regularly selling out in advance.
Queer Diary CIC registered as a Community Interest Company.
Queer Diary at Omnibus
First Queer Diary events outside London: We ran pop-up Queer Diary open mic nights in Durham, Aberystwyth, Margate, Sheffield, and Edinburgh, reaching 30+ new participants, and 250+ new audience members regionally, in addition continuing to run monthly events in London.
We were awarded funding by the Mayor of London through the Building Strong Communities programme, to help us trial new approaches to Queer Diary in London in late 2023 - early 2024 with a focus on improving access and testing different sizes of event space, begin to co-create our 2nd Queer Diary zine with London workshops.
We hosted 3 Queer Diary events at Edinburgh Fringe which allowed us to reach new audiences and participants from across the UK and the rest of the world, growing our networks and building meaningful connections with LGBTQIA+ creatives and community leaders nationally and internationally. We had our first conversations with UK-wide programmers and venues that will benefit us when we come to plan a full UK tour for Hasbian and Queer Diary.
Queer Diary at Edinburgh Fringe
Next steps for 'Hasbian'
"The kind of queer show that heals your soul"
- Cristina, Hasbian Audience-member
We'll continue development of Hasbian, informed by our earlier work together, collaborating with our all-LGBTQIA+ team to create an excellent piece of theatre that's entertaining, socially engaged, and ready to be enjoyed by audiences across the UK.
We'll work on improving the quality and accessibility of the show, and showcase it for local London audiences, gaining our first reviews and press, ahead of planning a future national tour.
Work with a Creative Captioning Consultant to improve access for Deaf audiences. Specialist consultant Ben Glover will work with our creative team - particularly the Projection Designer, Sound Designer, Director & Dramaturg. Together they will work on integrating captions into the animated projections for Hasbian. Creative captions communicate not just the words in the script, but use different fonts, colours, and text size to convey the expression, volume, and musicality, ensuring that the nuances of the performance and sounds design can be fully experienced by Deaf people.
Create a visual story guide for Hasbian to improve access for neurodivergent and learning disabled audiences.
Continue work with our accessibility consultants, Quiplash, to ensure all Hasbian accessibility features are fully creatively integrated ahead of our London run, and adaptable for a future tour.
Week-long London Run
We'll rehearse Hasbian, working with our creative team to ensure all performance elements are polished to the highest possible quality, ahead of officially debuting the 'final product'.
The show will be on for 6 performances at Omnibus Theatre. The experience of performing the show to 6 different live audiences will ensure the piece is in great shape to entertain audiences across the country.
At the start of the run we'll host a gala night, inviting influential voices in the LGBTQIA+ community, to maximise our opportunity to gain vital grassroots word-of-mouth endorsement from figures who are highly trusted by our target audiences, as well as mainstream press reviews.
We'll work with Omnibus to gather audience responses in a range of ways, including online & paper surveys, voice-notes, drawings, and vox-pops.
We'll work with a PR team to gain our first press and reviews of the show. Collectively, this coverage will be vital to helping us booking and marketing a full UK tour.
Alongside reviews, we'll seek opportunities for this project to be featured in the national press, using Pride Month (June) as the best time in the year to raise our profile with audiences.
"I've laughed, cried, met some lovely people and had a fantastic night.
Thank you so much for bringing Queer Diary into our lives."
- Lu, Queer Diary attendee
We'll hold 10 pop-up Queer Diary activities (a mix of zine-making workshops, and open-mic diary reading nights), to research and develop our participatory offer on a wider scale, growing our new company's relationships with venues, and community groups and leaders, who help us reach participants and audiences in regions outside of our home city.
When planning where to travel, we reviewed our existing connections to LGBTQIA+ community groups, examined where we might be able to deepen relationships within our growing networks of queer artists and organisations across the UK, and we joined the LGBT+ Consortium to connect us with more community groups and develop our understanding of what's on offer nationally in terms of LGBTQIA+ social, arts, and creative groups/activities. We also used the UK census to identify areas where LGBTQIA+ people are a significant portion of the population, but may be underserved due to a lack of LGBTQIA+ venues or a diverse range of LGBTQIA+ event options in their area.
We've selected a variety of areas, each with a different landscape of of available LGBTQIA+ activities and events, to assess the demand and reception for Queer Diary in each area:
In areas that are relatively well-served by existing LGBTQIA+ venues and organisations (Brighton and Aberystwyth), we'll tap into established local community networks, bringing a new type of activity to engage audiences and participants in a novel way, helping build a significant national profile for Queer Diary and raise awareness of our company amongst queer audiences for a future UK Hasbian tour.
In areas where some LGBTQIA+ activities/venues exist, but with significant room to grow: Margate & Durham (Priority Place), we'll work to build on the local offer, by collaborating with community partners to understand and meet needs of their participants and audiences, and assess where there is genuine enthusiasm for us to deliver further similar activities in future and viability for a future Hasbian tour.
In areas where LGBTQIA+ populations exist, but are under-served: East Cambridgeshire and Fenland (Priority Place) with few LGBTQIA+ dedicated-events we're seeking to build strong and lasting relationships with local venues and community partners, supporting them to fill a significant cultural gap in their area with affordable and accessible LGBTQIA+ arts and social activities.
"If a Queer Diary event was programmed on the moon, the most anti-capitalist queers would be befriending Bezos in hopes of securing a rocket ride"
- DIVA Magazine
We've identified a range of different types of venues Queer Diary can work within.
To help grow our understanding of how Queer Diary open mic events and workshops fit into different spaces, we've begun to form new relationships with venues across the UK, and exploring non-theatre settings for these activities including:
Queer Diary at Gala Durham (2023)
How We Work
In each area we visit, we identify at least one community partner and/or local ambassador who we've established a good relationship with.
Local LGBTQIA+ organisations and event organisers (such as Margate Pride, or Aberration Aberystwyth)
Local community-centred businesses and social groups (such as Bookwyrm LGBT Bookshop & Rainbow Screen Film Club)
Trusted individuals based in the area and active in queer community spaces, such as LGBTQIA+ artists and community leaders (from our personal and professional networks, such as Quiplash in Sheffield).
Each of these relationships is unique to the area, venue size/type, and which kind of event we're running (workshop, or open mic).
Some are more formal (for example, an organisation like Durham Pride, booking a venue or securing local in-kind support on our behalf)
Some are informal (for example, local LGBTQIA+ friends, helping us spread the word in our hometowns of Brighton and Fenland).
What they have in common, is that they're all people and groups who are excited to help connect Queer Diary with LGBQTIA+ people in their community.
In many cases local community members and/or organisations have already been crucial in helping us to identify and book inclusive venues, and build our timeline of events (looking at where we can coincide - or avoid clashes with - local festivals, and which days of the week normally work well in their location)
Community partners & ambassadors help us with:
1. Finding & communicating with Participants
The vast majority of our community partners and ambassadors have attended, or participated in Queer Diary events before. Their combined awareness of how Queer Diary works, with an understanding of the experiences and needs of queer people in their area makes them ideally placed to act as 'match-makers' directing us towards potential participants, and potential participants towards us.
They'll use 'word of mouth' - mentioning Queer Diary at their own LGBQTIA+ events, and queer events or groups they attend, raising awareness of what we do amongst people who might be interested in taking part. They 'vouch' for us amongst potential participants who know and trust them, empowering anyone who may feel nervous about signing up for a new experience, assuring them that we're trustworthy, and will welcome them warmly to a fun event.
For open-mic events, our community partners are often be well-placed to identify individual potential participants who they can reach out to on our behalf, pro-actively to inviting them to take part in Queer Diary by bringing something to read on stage.
Local individuals and networks will also help us reach community members who aren't on social media (or online at all), or may not want/be able to use our standard sign-up form. If we hear from an ambassador that an individual has expressed an interested in reading a diary, but wants to speak to us, rather than use our online form, we can work with the ambassador to arrange a phone call, zoom, email, or in-person chat before the event (whatever the potential participant's preferred arrangement is) to ensure they're fully informed about what's involved, and well-prepared if they'd like to take part.
We'll plan our engagement and marketing strategy together with community members as well as with our venues, consulting them on where to find our audiences in their area. Depending on the partner, we may co-create a flyer, incorporating their branding or logo, alongside ours/our venues.
We send out a marketing pack to many of our community partners, as well as our venue partners, to ensure they have all the information and resources they need to successfully help us spread the word about Queer Diary.
Community partners can help us post flyers where they'll be seen locally.
- On noticeboards in key places frequented by queer people, beyond our venue (eg, markets, shops, community centres, bars, and cafes)
- Displaying on their digital platforms and mailing lists to local followers, and local Facebook/WhatsApp groups for LGBTQ+ people (which are often hidden or closed for privacy reasons, so inaccessible to us)
3. Customising our activity plan
We'll take advice from those based in the area to help us anticipate the needs and expectations of local participants and audiences.
- Making a collaborative decision on start/interval time, to fit around any "usual format" of events audiences may be familiar with, or allow for distance people may have to travel.
- Improving our awareness of how to welcome specific groups of local people - eg, in Aberystwyth, hosts give a bilingual introduction to welcome Welsh-speakers; in Durham, Pride Volunteers & VIPS have a reserved table.
4. Continuing communication & evaluation
We're in regular communication with community partners throughout the timeline of a Queer Diary event: before, during, and after.
Before events, they'll help us plan for the new data-collection and evaluation methods we're using in this project.
For optimum data collection, we'll discuss things like:
- Do you think people in your community will do a survey on the room, or be more likely to respond to a follow-up email?
- Are they used to doing post-event surveys, or will they need extra motivation?
- Do they generally prefer digital or paper for surveys?
For accurate data analysis, and evaluation that's relevant to each area, we'll tailor our expectations and measurable KPIs. For example:
- What number of people normally come to an LGBT event in this venue/area?
- What portion of your audience are usually first-timers vs returners?
- Are there any key demographic groups you hope Queer Diary will help you connect with (and vice versa)?
This will enable us to measure our successes not only against our own established aims, and KPIs (based on our previous events), but considering the aims and expectations of local LGBTQIA+ communities we're serving with this activity.
During events, local partners will help us gauge responses from the crowd, and encourage participants and audiences to complete our surveys, as well as chatting to them about their experience of the activity, as an organic part of attending the event.
Afterwards we'll have a 'debrief' opportunity with community partners (phone call, zoom, conversation the next day, or email exchange - as appropriate to the relationship). During this we'll share our findings with them, and gain insight into what worked well from their perspective, and how the event may have impacted their community in the longer-term. This is a chance to reflect on our the event planning and delivery process, and think about what may need altering or adjusting in our approach if/when we return to that specific area, or inform our approach for other similar locations/venues.
"It's so lovely to come to a queer event in Durham that's hosted by someone other than us! "
- Local community organiser in Durham
Groups like Aberration (Aberystwyth) help us find 3-5 local participants, and sell-out audiences at regional open-mic nights
LGBT Bookshop Bookwyrm (Durham)
help us to find participants and audiences by sharing our poster on their community noticeboard in
They talk to queer people in-person & post about us to their +2k local followers on social media
How we work with local community partners & ambassadors
"Very welcoming to all identities"
- Queer Diary participant
Any LGBTQIA+ adult can take part in Queer Diary.
Participants do not need to have any experience of either performing or zine-making to take part in one of our open-mics events or creative workshops.
We're inclusive of all LGBTQIA+ identities, and aim to reach a wide range of age groups and backgrounds, by visiting a range of locations, and different types of venues, collaborating with a variety of community groups and representatives, and working to remove barriers - particularly for disabled people and those on a low-income, who are often excluded from many queer spaces.
Aims, for audiences and participants alike:
- LGBTQIA+ people feel welcomed into a new venue and/or when meeting and interacting with new people through Queer Diary.
- Loneliness and isolation decreases, and wellbeing is improved, by LGBTQIA+ people spending time together in a fun, sociable, creative space where they feel like they can relax, be themselves, and enjoy listening to and chatting with others.
Aims, for participants experience:
- Participants try a new creative activity (zine-making, or performing) or explore a new themes (autobiography, or queer history via a personal lens)
- Participants gain self-confidence by being supported by us to express themself in their own terms, to a receptive audience of peers
- Participants gain a sense of connection with other queer people in their area, by sharing a personal experience with fellow LGBTQIA+ people
- By being part of this project as it begins to expand nationally, participants feel connected to a national LGBTQIA+ community made up of people across the UK, and feel a sense of being united across different generations, backgrounds, localities, and the many identity groups within the LGBQTIA+ umbrella.
At Zine-Making Workshops 🎨 🖍 ✂️
All attendees are given all the materials they need (paper, pens, pencils and felt tips, scissors, rulers, glue, stamps and stencils, magazines and newspapers to cut up for collage, etc) plus verbal/visual instructions & hands-on facilitator support to make a zine for themselves.
We also provide some inspiration - in the form of other LGBTQIA+ zines to look at - and ideas of prompts for for Queer Diary-themed zines.
- Write a letter to your teenage self. What would your teenage self write back?
- Make a fan-zine about a TV show, band, or anything you were obsessed with as a teenager. Why did you love it so much? How do you feel about it now?
- Illustrate the lyrics to your favourite song from when you were growing up.
- Collage your feelings about growing up as an LGBTQIA+ teen. What were the moments of hope, or excitement, alongside any anger or sadness?
- Write a poem, inspired by something you remember saying, or hearing a lot as a teen.
- Draw a cartoon of a 'queer awakening' or a 'coming out' story: you could use real story, or a fantasy, or tell MANY different coming out stories!
- Design a fantasy outfit based on how you'd have liked to look when you were 14. Would you dress like that now?
At the end of the workshops there is an opportunity for participants to contribute to a Queer Diary collective zine, which will be professionally printed and distributed nationally. This is optional - some people may prefer to keep their zine private, but for those who wish to share, it allows their story or artwork to be seen by a wider audience across the UK, with the aim of helping local participants feel connected to a national LGBTQIA+ community made up of people across different age, background, location and identity groups.
Zine-making workshops as part of this project are happening in Brighton and Wisbech, and follow on from workshops being delivered in London, which have been funded by The Mayor of London's Building Strong Communities project.
At Open Mic Nights 🎤 🌈📖
At open-mic nights, the majority of participants sign up in advance to share something on the microphone (a teenage diary, or something else written in their youth), but there may also be some people who prefer to sign up on the night. We usually have between 2-5 participants reading on the mic. We've found that including an element of spontaneity in our open mic programming encourages some participants to join in last minute, so we can adjust the amount of material shared by the host, to allow for this. This flexibility enables us to accommodate for the number of readers, and the length of the pieces they're sharing, whilst ensuring the night is within our agreed running-time.
We also have audience members, who don't read on stage, but still have a chance to actively engage at the event, for example by requesting a song on the "teenage throwbacks" playlist, or during moments of light audience participation, where Beth invites the crowd to share teenage memories with each other, or the room, by posing open questions (ie, "Does anyone remember...", "Who would play your teenage self in a movie?").
"Loved chatting with others. And I got my song request in!"
- Open Mic audience member
Our step-by-step process for working with open mic participants:
1. Finding participants
We find participants by advertising online and in print, with the support of our venues, and local community members and groups.
Potential participants are invited to either fill out our form or email us expressing an interest in sharing something on stage at an upcoming night.
We provide a list of Queer Diary Frequently Asked Questions (in written and audio formats), which answer common questions and concerns, based on responses we've gathered throughout 3 years of working with participants. The FAQ are linked on all our social media and the sign-up form.
2. Communicating with participants (pre-event)
After receiving initial contact, we email each participant, to talk to them in more detail about their participation, and to check they've read/heard the FAQ, to ensure they're well-informed about the event and understand what to expect from it.
We also send a Queer Diary participants info pack (available in a range of formats) with an illustrated breakdown of what happens at our events.
We often organise a phone call or meeting to discuss material the participant would like to share. At this meeting, we may answer any questions or concerns, and talk about access needs and how we can accommodate or support them. We may listen to a 'rehearsal' of their reading, or talk through any creative ideas they have about how to present their material.
We go over key points to help the event run smoothly (for participants, audience, and all partners) during our pre event conversations, for example:
- How to give content warnings and audio describe yourself
- How to ensure your reading is a good length
- Where you'd prefer to be placed in the 'running order'
- How you'd like to be introduced
Open Mic sign-up form
3. Supporting participants (during the event)
During our events our priority is to ensure all participants feel comfortable and confident with sharing their teenage diaries, stories, and memories on stage.
To support participants, we:
Invite participants to arrive early to settle into the space while it is quiet, check-in on their wellbeing, and anything they may need during the evening.
Collaborate with participants to finalise the running order of readers (including any last-minute sign-ups), and create a fun playlist for the evening that represents their teenage era.
Check that they're happy with our introduction for them, and feel prepared to give an audio description of themself, and any content warnings.
'Warm up' the audience with 'practice' at cheering for participants, and some funny diary entries from Beth, then introduce participants one-by-one
We have an interval to ensure maximum comfort and sociability for the evening, as well as an extra opportunity to check-in with participants wellbeing, and leave time after the readings for participants and audience to mingle, socialise, and feedback on their experience.
4. Evaluating participants' experience (after the event)
After each open mic event, we stay in touch with participants.
We send them a personal thank-you message, and offer them a further opportunity to give us feedback on their experience using a form (if they want to stay anonymous) or by messaging us, or talking to us. During this project, we'll begin using Salesforce to log these communications, allowing us to understand participants' experiences across different events, and track our impact over time.
Illustrated info pack
5. Continuing long-term impact
Participants who are on social media use their platforms to continue interacting with us, whilst others may subscribe to our newsletter. Depending on privacy preferences, we may tag them in photos (and vice versa) after the event. Through social media, we see many past participants, audience members, and community partners seeing and responding positively to Queer Diary happening in other places across the UK - we also hear when we meet them in person, that they're interested in hearing more about the other locations we've visited and the people we've met. Through visiting more locations, gathering better data on how people like to engage with this project across the UK, and
Experiences of recent participants show different ways people continue their relationship to Queer Diary, by getting involved with multiple events.
After running for 3 years, we're beginning to see organic cross-over of community partner/participant/audience roles, and a growing national network of LGBTQIA+ people who engage in various Queer Diary activities, gaining relationships, confidence, and creativity.
London participant, K, first read their diary as a participant at Common Press in 2022, a few weeks after moving to East London. In the past 18 months they've shared at multiple open mic nights, and regularly attend Queer Diary as an audience member. They've made friends through Queer Diary who they've invited to birthday parties, etc, and with the confidence and creative experience they've gained, have begun writing their own theatre show.
A, who first attended Queer Diary as an audience member in Margate, recently became an open-mic participant. They up to read at one of our London nights , whilst visiting with friends, saying they "would not normally have had the confidence to sign up, but I felt like I thought it would be fun to do, after seeing it in Margate!"
H, one of the leaders of our Aberystwyth community partner organisation, helped us book a venue and recruit participants at our first event in Wales. They were delighted with how fun the event was, and commented that they were happy to see a full house, with so many new faces attending. H subsequently visited Edinburgh during the Fringe, and become a participant at an Edinburgh open mic event, when they brought a diary to read, along with 4 new audience members. They said it was a "big deal" to read their diary on stage and they were thrilled to have an opportunity to share with an Edinburgh Fringe audience. They're excited for Queer Diary to return to Aberystwyth, to reach even more participants and new audiences.
During this project, we'll develop our methods of data collection and analysis, taking expert advice on how to accurately track our developing relationships with participants, audience members, venues and community groups as they stay in touch with us, looking at when they return to Queer Diary, and in what role. Using Salesforce will allow us to measure and report our impact over time, building up data-based evidence to look at wellbeing-based outcomes for participants, audiences, and communities, beyond individual anecdotes and testimonies. This data will enable us to check whether we're meeting our long-term aims. Learning more about why people return to Queer Diary, and how it improves their lives will inform our company's future development, shape our plans for growing our activities and community. Better data will also open up prospects for longer-term funding, beyond project-based grants, to achieve a high level of quality and consistency in our presence as a national LGBQTIA+ community organisation.
"This is my third time coming to Queer Diary - I find it so affirming"
- Open Mic attendee
How we work with participants
Queer Diary at Omnibus (2021)
Omnibus (South London)
Theatre (to host a Queer Diary open mic alongside Hasbian run)
Omnibus is a multi-award-winning independent theatre with a strong reputation for programming a diverse range of LGBTQIA+ new writing and community events.
Queer Diary has been highly successful at Omnibus, when presented as part of their 96 Festival of LGBTQIA+ Arts in 2021 & 2023.
Presenting a Queer Diary open mic ahead of our run of Hasbian at Omnibus will allow us to market both events simultaneously to maximise potential for audience cross-over, utilising our our supportive relationship with a venue that shares our key target audience groups.
South London is where Beth and Josie are both based. Beth is building a profile in this area as a local artist and cultivating strong connections with audiences and artists in the area, particularly from the LGBTQIA+ community.
8% of Lambeth, and 9.5% of the population in Clapham North identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual in the 2021 UK census.
LGBTQIA+ venue (to host 3 x QD Open Mic events)
Common Press is an LGBTQIA+ bookshop, cafe, and event space. We've been hosting Queer Diary open mic nights at Common Press on a monthly basis since April 2022, with our events regularly selling out to audiences of 50+.
As queer-led community-focussed organisation, with whom we have a long-standing relationship, Common Press supports us with discounted hire fees and in-kind technical support.
This project will enable us to add accessibility to our regular nights at Common Press - working with a BSL interpreter and captions to be more accessible for Deaf audiences, and live-streaming using their in-house camera set-up, for audience members who can't make it to our events in person.
Hosting Queer Diary in London before and after the Hasbian run will enable us to maintain our relationship with our returning audiences who attend frequently, encouraging them to attend both events and become ambassadors for our work.
Queer Diary at Common Press (2022)
The Queery (Brighton)
LGBTQIA+ Cafe & Bookshop (to host a QD Zine Workshop)
The Queery is a community-focussed social hub in the centre of Brighton's LGBTQIA+ district, surrounded by other businesses and services aimed directly at our community and target audiences.
This will be the first ever Queer Diary activity in Brighton. Beth recently brought a 'taster' of Queer Diary to The Queery - by sharing some teenage diary entries at the launch of a book about Section 28. Local audience members were enthusiastic, and showed a significant appetite for more Queer Diary events in Brighton in future.
Brighton is where Beth grew up, where Hasbian is set, and somewhere we aim to bring the show as a key location on our future UK tour.
11% of Brighton, and over 20% of the population living in this neighbourhood identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual in the 2021 UK census.
Wisbech Oasis Centre (Fenland)
Community Centre (to host a QD Zine Workshop)
Fenland is where Josie grew up, and somewhere we're aiming to bring more Queer Diary and Hasbian events in future, as the area is currently under-served in both arts & LGBTQIA+ activities. This will be the first ever Queer Diary activity in Fenland.
"I wish there was something like [Queer Diary] in the Fens, so I could connect with queer people near me" - Daniel (audience member who previously drove from Fenland to London to attend a QD event).
“To offer local residents [Queer Diary] is great.” - Chris (Oasis Community Centre Trust, Wisbech).
We'll work with local residents within Josie and Daniel's networks to spread the word about our workshop to LGBTQIA+ participants in the Fenland area, and we'll support Oasis Community Centre to host an inclusive queer community event.
2-4% of the population of Fenland is LGBT, and 3% (~1000 people) in Wisbech are gay, lesbian, bi, or other.
Prickwillow ArtSpace (East Cambridgeshire)
(to host a QD open mic)
Prickwillow Artspace is a community centre for cultural, educational and creative activities in The Fens in East Cambridgeshire, near where Josie is from.
We're working with the directors of Prickwillow ArtSpace after they reached out to Josie expressing a need for LGBTQIA+ events in their area. Following opening the space in 2021, it has become an aim of this new venue to provide queer cultural events for their under-served local community.
2.6% of the population in East Cambridgeshire, and 3.6% of people living near Prickwillow (South Ely) identify as gay, lesbian, bi, or other.
Small Theatre (to host a QD Open mic event)
We visited Margate in summer 2023, for a pop up Queer Diary event at the request of local residents. The event sold out, and we are returning in response to demand for a second Queer Diary event following its popularity.
We're working closely with Tom Thumb who often run LGBTQIA+ community events and shows. They will support us with print and social media marketing and, Mia Pollack (director of Margate Pride) will support us with outreach using social media and word of mouth to find and establish our connection with new Queer Diary participants.
3% of the population in Thanet, and 7% of the population in Margate identify as gay, lesbian, bi, or other.
Queer Diary in Durham (2023)
"A great experience, really funny and moving... thank you so much for kicking off our Durham Pride UK celebrations.
We had a wonderful time"
- Ruth, Durham Pride Volunteer
& Queer Diary attendee
Gala Theatre (Durham)
Theatre & Cinema (to host a QD Open mic event)
We first visited Durham in May 2023, for a pop-up Queer Diary event. The event had great feedback, and we are returning in 2024 in response to demand for a second event to co-incide with their annual Durham Pride celebration.
We're working with Mel Metcalf (who is Chair of Durham Pride, and works with Durham University). Partnering Durham Pride will support us to connect with local LGBTQIA+ audiences and participants, including LGBTQIA+ student and staff societies at the University, as well as Pride volunteers and attendees.
On our first visit we began new relationships with local grassroots community leaders in County Durham (Including Chris and Miles, who run BookWyrm LGBTQIA+ bookshop in Durham, and Megan Hemsley, who runs Rainbow Film Club and Queerish Books in Darlington). These local people attended our event as audience members and participant (respectively), and have stayed in touch. For 2024, they'll be community ambassadors, helping us to reach more new participants in their area.
We're strategically developing our audience in this area, as we hope for Hasbian to be programmed at Gala Theatre in future, as part of a full UK tour, as well as hosting more Queer Diary events in the area.
3% of people in Durham County, and 11% in Durham City Centre identify as gay, lesbian, bi, or another non-hetero sexuality.
Bank Vault (Aberystwyth)
Bar & performance venue (to host a QD Open Mic event)
We visited Aberystwyth in July 2023, for a pop up Queer Diary event. The event sold out, and we are returning in 2024 in response to demand for a second event.
Our community partners here are Aberration - an LGBTQ+ arts & community organisation who have a strong relationship with local LGBTQIA+ audiences, and often programme cabaret events for audiences of 100+ in the Arts Centre.
We're hosting a Queer Diary night in association with Aberration as part of their popular programme of queer pop-up events, co-hosting alongside their team to incorporate Welsh-language inclusivity into our regular hosting routine.
Aberration are keen advocates of Queer Diary - having also attended our Edinburgh Fringe run in 2023 - and will use word of mouth and their social media presence to encourage their regular attendees to become Queer Diary participants.
We're strategically developing our audience in this area, as we hope for Hasbian to be programmed at Aberystwyth Arts Centre in future as part of a full UK tour, as well as hosting more Queer Diary events in the area.
5% of people in Ceredigion, and 17% of the population living in this neighbourhood identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi or other.
Queer Diary in Aberystwyth (2023)
Queer Diary Zine
A zine is a leaflet-sized mini-magazine published on a micro-scale. Originating in DIY culture, zines are traditionally home-made, featuring a mix of writing, drawing, and collaging, zines are printed in very small batches, often for for free or pay-what-you-can distribution amongst community groups and networks.
The first QD zine was made in collaboration with Queer Diary online participants. It was home-printed, and distributed to ~100 people in 2020-21. Our second QD zine is in development in 2023, thanks to funding from the Mayor of London.
In 2024 we're offering the opportunity for Queer Diary participants from across the UK to contribute to a new zine. This next Queer Diary zine will contain a mix of creative material made in workshops inspired by participants teenage memories, plus writing and artwork saved from their own their teenage years.
Queer Diary zine-making workshop, Stanley Arts (2022)
Once published, this collaborative Queer Diary zine will give readers an intimate insight into young queer lives in years-gone-by. It will feature contributions from participants, giving a national platform to LGBTQIA+ voices from a wide range of different generations, locations, backgrounds and queer identities.
This zine will be published at an initial run of 500 copies. It'll be distributed via online sales and at our events on a Pay What You Can basis, and at LGBTQIA+ community centres, pop-up libraries and bookshops in London, including: The Common Press, Gay's The Word, London LGBTQIA+ Community Centre, and The Outside Project Centre, where it will be free to take, and feature a QR code on the back, enabling people to pay online, if they've enjoyed it.
National zine-distribution to LGBTQIA+ friendly community spaces and bookshops outside London will help us establish new local community relationships and raise audience-awareness to support the touring more Queer Diary events in future (replicating the success we've had with making community contacts and building audiences via connecting with bookshops including:
The Common Press in London, The Queery in Brighton, Queerish Books in Darlington, and Bookwyrm in Durham).
Developing our Company
After running Hasbian and Queer Diary projects together for several years - including working together on 2 successful Arts Council funded R&Ds, we registered as a Community Interest Company in November 2022.
Alongside working on developing our show, and delivering participation activities, we've build time into this project to develop our skills, knowledge, and audiences. This will help us to continue expanding Queer Diary's community and equipping us to track and measure our national impact as we do so, and to prepare for booking a full national tour for Hasbian.
In preparation for planning a national tour, Queer Diary CIC will become a member of the Independent Theatre Council, and participate in a workshop on touring, to refresh and deepen our existing knowledge in this area.
Data Collection & Analysis
We're working with a senior data analyst, researcher and trainer with expertise in data management software and tools for large & small non-profit organisations (Tim Faulkner)
We'll gain training and hands-on experience in using Salesforce's Non-Profit Success pack to manage our activities and data as a new CIC.
We'll review our current methods and develop new skills in relation to: gathering and managing data, measuring engagement, outcomes, and impact.
We'll learn how to reliably track the success of our activities and our environmental sustainability as we expand our work on national level (including learning how to accurately measure our energy consumption, waste generation, transport emissions & resources used during this project, to inform positive climate action in our future work)
We'll develop our methods of gathering data and feedback in consultation with participants, community members, and venues as well as taking expert advice, to ensure we're doing so sensitively and safely, without creating any discomfort or barriers
Dialogue with community partners and venues on this project will ensure we're analysing data using relevant benchmarks and KPIs that recognise the needs and wants of all the people we're working with, supporting the aims of community orgs and venues.
We'll learn new ways of effectively using existing and new data, laying the groundwork for our company's Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, Business Plan, and Theory of Change.
The data we gather during our London run of Hasbian and pilot tour of pop-up Queer Diary events will be instrumental in planning our full national tour in future.
Developing our Audiences
Growing our connections with LGBTQIA+ community groups in different locations across the UK, taking time to understand their responses to Queer Diary by speaking to them and surveying them on our pilot tour.
Continuing building and engaging with our local South London audiences, by following our previous successful Queer Diary night at Omnibus with a week-long run of Hasbian at the same venue.
Reaching Deaf audiences by integrating Creative Captioning into Hasbian, and hosting a sharing for Deaf audience feedback on this.
Continue developing and testing new ways of engaging our community online, through interactive content including (but not limited to): collaborative Queer Diary playlists, Hasbian quizzes & polls, and live-streaming Queer Diary events.
Continue developing our ways of actively engaging our community offline, including through Queer Diary open mic nights, workshops, and publishing our second collaborative Queer Diary Zine, featuring contributions from participants.
We'll take time to review in-depth how audiences engage with our work as a whole, to gain a deeper understanding of how audiences online translate into in-person attendance (or vice-versa). We'll look at how many audience members attend both Queer Diary and Hasbian, to consider which of our activities attracts them first (and why), and how often they return to engage with activities in different ways (ie, beginning as an audience member, then participating, or vice-versa)
We're continuing to develop our methodology for working with open mic participants to ensure our events are as safe, welcoming, accessible and fun as possible, encouraging and enabling more people to take part, whilst expanding on the variety of settings, and range of different people we work with.
We know some participants may need more support, or different kinds of support, when it comes to preparing something to share on a microphone, so we'll spend time listening to participants during this project - using ongoing dialogue, and inviting feedback in lots of different ways and at different points - before, during and after our events - to discover more about how participants feel when they take part in Queer Diary, what they get out of the process what we can do to support them.
Whilst we've gathered feedback from audience/participants before, we have never done so on this scale, or gathered demographic data.
Feedback from participants & audiences
Queer Diary zine-making workshop, Stanley Arts (2022)
"I've attended several of your Queer Diary events and had THE best time! I've laughed, cried, met some lovely people and had a fantastic night. Thank you so much for bringing Queer Diary into our lives."
“A fun, friendly sharing where we can pretend to be shocked at everyone else's adolescent high jinks."
"Very welcoming to all identities.”
“It'll prove that you weren't as weird as you thought you were - or that we're all as weird as each other.”
“SO GOOD! Very heartwarming and relatable.”
"Loved chatting with other people. And I got my song request in!"
"Touching! I felt if I met everyone in school they'd be my friends."
"it was a big deal for me to share my diaries, and I'm very glad to have had the opportunity"
"Beth hosted so well. This instinct added to how well the event flowed."
"It was a joy to be a part of."
"I've done some open mic nights with another night, but I never felt comfortable reading something so queer and personal at those nights because the audience was very hetero. Thank you so much."
"Thank you for creating the space I didn't even know I needed"
"This is my third time coming to Queer Diary, I find it so affirming"
“Excellent, genuine rapport with the audience. Honest and highly personal experience of growing up LGBTQ+”
“Visually superb. A Pandora's box of delightful personal gems.”
“A romp through complex sexuality, music, desire and drama.”
“A celebration of bisexuality, and a representation of how difficult it is to identify yourself when bi-erasure is real.”
“Beth is brilliant with the audience. I learnt loads about 1990's/00's teen culture.”
“As a bisexual who grew up in a similar time period this felt so relatable. I feel like I experienced what it could have been like growing up with more confidence in my non-straight sexuality”
“I am straight but this brought up so many teenage memories.”
"One of the best shows I've seen this year"
"I haven't laughed as much as that in a long time."
"The kind of queer show that heals your soul"
"Very funny, and pure realness - we can all relate to crazy teen angst"