Bridget Floyer, 26 January 2013

Day 1, Session 2, ANT

Attended by:

Jasmine Woodward-Stewart

Dee Ishani

Ashley Steed

Ine Van Riet

Jen Toksvig

Liz Stevenson

Tanja Raashi

Michelle Owoo

Rebecca Gould

Leyla Asadi

Tim Lenkiewicz

(apologies for misspellings/others were also there!)

We had quite a general and diverse discussion, brilliantly helpful for me, being

reassured that there are others out there grappling with the same thoughts. I was also

helped to formulate and move forward on much of my thinking from those less AND

more experienced.

Here in more subject grouped than chronological order… and though I’ve tried to

record the things that were said inevitably I’ve interpreted so apologies if I’ve got

anything not quite right…

Why people are producers…

• Someone asked does anyone become a producer through anything other than


• Wanting to make things happen

• Being good at the management/organising side

• because it’s needed – self producing and/or being the only one in a group of artists

who is willing to do it (and this went into a discussion about what you then sacrifice

creatively, and it being bad if this isn’t shared)

What is a producer / what’s a producer’s skillset

• Raising money?

• Keeping plates in the air

• Is it a female thing? (the group was almost entirely female. The only male I spoke to

was an artist. Or is it just us who like to talk about it?!)

• doing lots of different things but making sure it’s all happening

• do some artists assume it’s just someone who will get you the money (is that

insulting?) We discussed that sometimes the money can be the easy bit – and/or that

it can be easier/just as easy particularly at small end of the scale for artists to raise

money for themselves

• difference between exec producer who funds, and producer who…?

• wearer of lots of different hats – marketer, administrator, etc

• entrepreneurial

Being a producer / ways in

• We all felt ‘theatre-maker’ as a term should include producers – but it often doesn’t!

• No clear career path

• Being a producer (from someone who was also an artist) can help you feel in control

of your own income stream

• Most of us work independently – had a conversation about how hard it is to get a

producing job without prior experience – to work your way up to it – many of us found

no choice but to go it alone with the attendant money/financial difficulties

• Experiencing stonewalling – as an independent is difficult to get doors opened –

ending up finding artists who needed organisational support to work with, often for

free, just to get going. Or it just took a long time / still is taking a long time. Particularly

if moving from another area.

• Often needing another job/work to finance being a producer

• Courses/schemes/apprenticeships were recommended by some – allow you to

explore your own interests

o one week course at the National Theatre as part of ‘young studio’ for under 25s

o Birkbeck Producing course

• Others started later, 30+ - agreed there was a gap in support at this level when it

could be just as hard to start independently but still hard to find a job as a ‘producer’

• Pros and cons being young/old as a new producer – older, you have the benefit of

experience and maturity, younger – more support and schemes

Collaboration between producers / artists

Producers and artists need mutual respect – understanding and appreciating the roles

and the work that often goes on behind the scenes – on both sides

Often a group of creative people comes together to work collaboratively on a project

for the individual skills/talent/creativity they bring as artists – or come together and

then decide what to do because of their skill sets – and then just think they need a one

size fits all ‘producer’. Actually the organisational/management side of things is a

collection of skills, abilities and working behaviour preferences just like the creative

side and bringing those people in should be treated in the same way.

Producers need to be able to define their own skillsets and preferences and artists

need to be really clear about what they actually need/want. Sometimes artists are

quite happily doing the strategic producing of their own show and just need someone

to come in and do their admin. If this is the ‘heavy lifting’ – the boring part that they

don’t want to do – this should be clearly paid at an appropriate level and/or offered to

someone who is looking for that job/experience. Some artists really need an admin

assistant. Some companies want a general manager not a creative producer. Some

people want an entrepreneurial producer with clever ideas – that might not be the

same person who is good at the detail and organisation. Etc.

We talked about skill sets and behaviour preferences/working types. Some people are

good at big ideas, some at people skills, some at figures/data, etc. All these people

might be different types of producer. You need a good match between the different

skills in the room.

There was a project started by people in the room at D and D who are all artists and

have produced it between themselves – 50 people producing a funding bid together

was really postive and a good learning process

There also needs to be a good agreement as to what is expected. If an artist wants

someone to collaborate with them (and this might well mean being unpaid until they

raise money) they need to consider what the investment is for the producer. Is it for

the belief in/wish to promote the work? Ownership? Otherwise should consider not

collaborating and just paying someone - more of a straightforward employment

relationship. Some in the group said there had to be trust – sometimes this had

worked for them in the past and sometimes not. It’s difficult to deal with if you put

something in and then don’t get it back out when something is successful – aren’t

employed anymore etc.

Reasons to do a job (universally applicable!)

• financially rewarding

• strategically important

• sentimental reasons

Otherwise put as ‘don’t let anyone fuck with your joy’

Trust your gut! Relationships also need trying out – though some felt if it was going to

click it would immediately, but takes a lot of finding (like a romantic relationship – and

you need to share values and ethos)

Reasons to collaborate:

• it’s really nice to work with people

• dialogue is valuable

• making something together which is creatively worthwhile

There are online systems for co-working (particularly if not sharing an office)



Tips for new producers / people who aren’t producers but are finding

themselves producing

• Sometimes when all the obvious routes for doing something don’t work, the oblique

ways are the most successful

• Decide when it’s worth putting the really hard work in – choose those moments

• Take baby steps

• You have to fundamentally care about the work

• Capture your audience – something often missed by new companies which is exactly

the time to start

o e-marketing

o building a network

o database for news – start with your friends’ contacts

o start a dialogue

o do workshops

o think about who you are

• Share the work and the process of deciding what needs to be done – whether or not

you are the producer as such or it just needs doing – (through an Open Space?!)

• Geese are a good model for group working! Fly in a V but take turns to lead

• Get a mentor – might have to pay them, harder to find them for free (there is an ACE

scheme for under 25s?)

o help you to see the bigger picture

o Open up networks

o probably not ‘this is how to do it’

• Funding – get a sense of good funding bids and then find your own voice

• If you have aims and objectives, make sure you meet them

• If you have success (eg early success at Edinburgh) don’t let it dissipate – build on it,

promote it, talk about it


Tim from Squarepeg was interested in finding a producer to collaborate with –

someone who would invest in the work and have ownership, want to be involved.

[email protected]

The independent producers agreed it was nice to talk to each other and share the


#SOUPing – SOUP is an independent producer’s collective started in Brighton – really

just involves working alongside other producers for sharing and advice.

#SOUPing is just that way of working (it is an actual Twitter tag). I am informally trying

to start some #SOUPing going in South East London. Will be working at the Albany in

the café on Tues 5th Feb from 10amish to 5pmish with a few people if any other

independent producers fancy joining us.

Thank you to all those who came - I really enjoyed this session!





Producer, networks, advice, Collaboration, Producing, networking, collaboration,

producer, producing

Comments: 1

Chris Grady, 27 January 2013

I'd love to connect with any aspiring producer or company at a CGO Surgery which I hold monthly. Next one is Sat 23rd Feb

and then Sat 23rd March. A one-on-one conversation to help creative practitioners sort their ideas, find connections, and

get un stuck.

More info on

PS its pay what you can