Battersea Arts Centre encourages people to test and develop new ideas with members of the public – a process called Scratch.

Scratch is about sharing an idea with the public at an early stage of its development. When you Scratch an idea, you can ask people questions and consider their feedback. This helps you work out how to take your idea on to the next stage. It’s an iterative process that can be used again and again. Over time, ideas become stronger because they are informed by a wide-range of responses.

The feedback is an important part of the process but Scratch is not about doing everything that people’s feedback suggests; it is about using the responses to help you understand how people currently receive it and to help you shape your idea. The feedback doesn’t have to be a Q&A, you can simply share your idea ‘live’ and, by doing this, you can often tell what works and what doesn’t. Scratch recognizes that when an idea does not fully succeed, or even when it crashes and burns, that there is great learning to be gathered.

Scratch is used by artists to make theatre, by young people to develop entrepreneurial ideas, by local people who want to get creative and much more. Find out about the different ways we use Scratch below:


We invite audiences to experience unfinished shows, to offer ideas and give feedback. You could be the first to experience the next big idea or to discover an exciting new artist. (We call all performers artists). All Scratch shows are Pay What You Can. We have produced a host of successful shows through Scratch including Orpheus, Brand New Ancients and The Paper Cinema's Odyssey. Previous shows developed here through Scratch have gone on to the National Theatre and the West End, for example The Animals and Children took to the Streets, Jerry Springer the Opera and Jackson’s Way.


We run a project called Artist Teacher Exchange, which pairs artists and teachers who can learn from each other’s ideas and skills. The exchange allows artists and teachers to co-design and deliver work side-by-side. After a period of Scratch which is divided into 3 phases: ‘Learning’, ‘Making’ and ‘Sharing’, the project culminates in a school project which supports the national curriculum.


Battersea Arts Centre, Contact Manchester and People’s Place Projects have piloted the use of Scratch methodology with young people in disadvantaged areas of London and Manchester. A project called The Agency is based on a successful project in Rio de Janeiro that helps cultural organisations offer young people living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods the possibility to realise their ideas and create projects that impact the lives of their community.


Our aim is to create a building that is truly responsive to the people it is designed for: visitors, audiences, artists and staff. In 2007, we developed the concept of Playgrounding with our architects, Haworth Tompkins (winners of the RIBA Stirling Prize: Everyman Theatre, Liverpool 2014). Playgrounding is Scratch for our building - treating our building like a playground for our collective imagination and bringing together architects with artists. We often try things out on a small scale through temporary structures that we can test before building something permanent.


Inspired by the rich heritage of our local area, we have used Scratch to incorporate local heritage into our shows. Battersea Arts Centre became custodian of the Wandsworth Borough Collection in April 2016 and we’ll be using Scratch to explore innovative ways of sharing this with the public. We are also using Scratch to work with museums through our Creative Museums programme.


We have paired artists with programmers to Scratch digital art online in a collaboration with The Space. We asked artists we work with to submit proposals that would capture the essence of live performance on the internet and would involve audience interaction. We ran a series of Scratch labs for artists to learn about code and experiment with their ideas. One idea, The International Archive of Things Left Unsaid, has been taken through to completion and is now live. We want to use Scratch more in digital art. Over the next few months, we will be Scratching ideas on a very small scale with a view to create more digital art next year.