ABTT launches second MAKE A DiFFERENCE Conference for 2024!

12 December 2023

Following on from the ABTT’s inaugural MAKE A DiFFERENCE conference held earlier this year at the Albany in Deptford, the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT) is very excited to announce the launch of the second edition of this annual proactive conference day - committed to finding solutions to current industry issues.

The 2024 MAKE A DiFFERENCE conference will be held on:

Friday 12th April 2024 at
The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama,
Embassy Theatre,
Eton Avenue, Swiss Cottage
London NW3 3HY

 The theme for this year’s discussion is:
Bridging the gap between Education and Industry

The MAKE A DiFFERENCE conference  is designed to be more than simply talking. There is no passive sitting and listening at the conference, if you attend, your thoughts, views and ideas are welcome and you will spend the day developing ideas.  By asking attendees to commit to taking action and developing strategies, delegates all help to achieve solutions for the issues discussed.

One of the key themes to come out of the 2023 Make A DiFFERENCE Conference, which was based on ‘solving our industry’s recruitment & retention crisis’, was training and education – so, the 2024 theme will be reviewing current training provisions within the Industry.

Training and education nurtures the next generation of technicians who will then go out into industry.  The 2024 conference will be a chance for those in education to share what they know about current trends, wants and the needs of our trainee backstage workers while also giving the industry the opportunity to share what they need from our teaching establishments and how that might have changed over time.

This is a day dedicated to communication, nurturing joined-up thinking and maintaining the vital link between how we train our future backstage workers and how they transition into industry.

On the conference day the ABTT will be reviewing three key areas:

  • What are the trends and knowledge we can learn from education providers that will help us develop the talent pipeline for industry?
  • What are the current industry challenges and needs that we need to consider when developing our training and education?
  • What can we do to bridge the gap between education and industry and better collaborate and work together?

With the 2024 Conference the ABTT aims to foster collaboration and the sharing of ideas which have been developed over the years at ABTT seminars and at the annual ABTT Theatre Show which is presented in June at Alexandra Palace.

The support of academic theatre production staff from Guildford School of Acting and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama will help facilitate these continuing discussions and provide a more focussed proactive platform to encourage actions and find practical solutions to move us forward with industry issues.

ABTT Co-Chair & Senior Lecturer at Guildford School of Acting, Mig Burgess Walsh commented:

“I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and popularity of our first MAKE A DiFFERENCE conference this year.  I never expected so many people to be willing to try something different in attending our proactive and interactive conference.  Next year’s conference links together the two parts of my working world.  Training and Industry.  I am equally passionate about both and can’t wait to facilitate a day where we can talk, share thoughts, make new connections and come up with new ideas that will see education and industry working more in harmony with one another.”

Robin Townley, ABTT Chief Executive, stated:

“It is fantastic to be able to present a second edition of the MAKE A DiFFERENCE Conference. I am tremendously grateful to Royal Central School of Speech and Drama for partnering with the ABTT and GSA in order to deliver the Conference in 2024 and accommodate even more participants. Those who attended this year’s event reported that they had found it a useful and empowering mechanism to bring about change. I very much hope that the 2024 event will help even more delegates achieve progress in improving the relationship between education, training and our industry.”

Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE, Principal and CEO of The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama added:

“We at Central are pleased to host the MAKE A DiFFERENCE Conference and to partner with the ABTT and GSA to bring this event to a wider and more diverse audience. As a performing arts education and training institution, we know the importance of maintaining strong ties with the industries that we are preparing our students to join and, one day, to lead. May this Conference serve as the starting point for many more vital discussions between education and industry about the future sustainability of our sector.”

The ABTT are inviting those working in higher education and apprenticeship training along with businesses and organisations to express their interest in attending and join in with the campaign to “MAKE A DiFFERENCE”.
Spaces are limited for the 2024 Conference so if you would like to attend please fill in the MAKE A DiFFERENCE Conference 2024 Expressions of Interest Form here.

As part of your commitment to attend, the ABTT will ask those participating to agree to do more than just join us on the day but also agree to leave with clear and feasible actions that will  help improve recruitment and retention in our industry.

This is demonstrated in the MAKE A DiFFERENCE Conference participation agreement below:


You can find out more about our first Conference, hosted in April 2023 here. Over 70 delegates from across the Industry attend to discuss the topic of ‘Solving our industry’s recruitment & retention crisis’ and a wide variety of actions, including a Survey Recruitment Retention Report alongside Health, Well-being and Work-Life Balance Guidance.