Artists and Freelance Producers – How to begin and build a relationship that works … 

Convener(s): Sarah-Jane Rawlings

Participants: Shakera Louise Ahad, Natalie Querol, Mark Conway, Liam O’Driscoll, Annie Fitzmaurice, Andrea Kantor, Jane Gauntlett, Jack Klaff, Alice Mansey, Andrew Somerville, Christina Elliot, Michelle  Owoo, David Luff, Li Chen

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

The conclusions that came out of this session:

  • That it is very difficult to define the role of creative producer / producer - it is so different in so many different contexts and we would probably just go round and round in circles for hours. It is also not particularly useful for this  discussion. However there was an interesting piece of research done by Kate Tyndall on the role of the creative producer which was available on the Arts Council website and a more extensive collection of interviews by Kate Tyndall called, ‘Alchemist of the Impossible’ which might be interesting to read in this context.
  • Generally the group felt it was difficult to build the necessary relationships. Artists looking for people to help make their work happen, didn’t know where to look and ended up doing it themselves. One of the difficulties is that neither side has any money and there therefore needs to be a real belief in each other’s vision and passion for that relationship to be sustained. Everybody was aware of artists looking for people to help make their work happen so it was great to have two people who were on or who had been on the Birkbeck creative producing course as they are of course emerging producers keen to find work to produce.
  • So how does one find that relationship? Generally people felt it helped to have the relationship before the ideas so that the partnership is a genuine one with both sides sharing a vision for the piece of work and having a genuine connection. The idea of a networking event based on speed dating was mainly met with enthusiasm as it did enable individuals the chance just to meet and have an initial connection – from then it is their responsibility to take it further if they want to. So any speed dating type activity between producer and artist should not be about showcasing but about talking and sharing thoughts and ideas. The event does not need to be measure in actual impact (how many artists now have producers for example) as it is just a beginning. Like D&D it creates an environment for people to meet and talk, what happens from that might not happen immediately but it doesn’t mean nothing will happen. The outcomes might not be what was expected. It was also clear that an event like this needed to be set up correctly so that neither side had too much expectation from it.
  • Having said this there was a feeling that a very light touch website / ning / online pinboard would be useful to profile producers who are interested in finding artists to work with and maybe the other way round too as nobody knew of anything concrete with this information. The issue with this is that unless someone is looking after it, it is in danger of becoming unused and out of date very quickly. Sarah-Jane promised to talk to ACE about the need that had been expressed and whether this was being dealt with in any way by the theatre unit. It would also be good to link with the graduating students from the Birkbeck creative producing course. Other networks such as this are: ideastap(?) and Women in Film and Theatre – although not completely what we were talking about – they may be useful to look at in terms of setting one up ourselves.
  • Fuel talked about the case they were making to ACE about their efficiency. ACE give them a very small amount of regular funding for a percentage of their overheads with which they are able to support a lot of artists. Bill G is similar. Should we be lobbying for this to happen more?
  • Finally, I think that everyone agreed that the relationship between a producer and an artist is a very unique one and will be different in every case. There are many different models that work. And however that relationship develops it has to be organic and if that is true it may be difficult to set up a structure to truly fix this issue, maybe only small initiatives to lend support to it.