Forum theatres create bridges


In early December, local communities at Armidale, Uralla and Stanthorpe participated in Forum Theatres. The theatres were a new way of looking at the perennial issue of resource allocation with the aim of promoting understanding, rather than ending up in slanging matches.

At each Forum Theatre several scripted land use scenes were performed by professional actors. Selected scenes were then repeated with audience participation.

In the repeat scenes audience members were able to express the great variety of positions traditionally taken by the various players in land management. During these repeated scenes the audience was able to discuss ways of improving land management and better recognising the efforts of those involved.

Not surprisingly, much of the discussion focused on the need for more effective communication. Participants agreed the greatest need is for better communication between local and distant communities. This requires the building of trust based on credible monitoring of improvement in land management and on evidence based stories of landholders who have improved both economic and environmental performance.

The Forum Theatres, organised by the not-for-profit Australian Land Management Group (ALM Group), are part of the group’s continuing efforts to strengthen recognition for landholders who are able to demonstrate improving environmental performance.

Photo. One of the ways of increasing understanding of the different positions taken by people at a forum theatre is for participants to express and comment on them. Discussions are moderated by a facilitator.