The discussion began with a recognition that one of the most helpful things that can be offered as support for an artist is money - both to help the creative development of work and also to help pay the bills. But what can venues and companies offer when they can't offer financial support?

The session was a mix of artists, creatives, venues, producers, and theatre companies.

The support that we spoke about includes:

Rehearsal space
- This could be in the form of residencies, scratches etc...
- If a venue has a hire cancellation or some last minute space that isn't being used it would be great for this to be offered out to artists on a first come first serve basis. This is something that has worked well at Tobacco Factory and Bristol Old Vic. It is not ideal due to the late notice nature of it but does make artists feel welcome.

Desk/work space
- If a venue has a bar space that isn't open in the day it would be great for this to be offered out to artists. Perhaps with free teas and coffees? (similar to OvalHouse) Being in a shared space when you're an artist working on your own is really valuable.
- This could be part of a low cost membership scheme where artists have access to a space with free wifi, drinks and a place to have meetings. It doesn't necessarily have to be part of a mentorship scheme and is much nicer than being in a cafe space where you feel pressured into buying multiple drinks throughout the day.
- Allows artists to meet other artists keeping up to date with work and opportunities and for venues to begin to build a database/pool of artists.
- A community notice board would be great in these spaces to advertise shows, opportunities etc.. E.g. an artist could post 'I am a theatre director looking for a designer for...'. There is a very good board like this at Theatre Deli Broadgate.

Green room:
- It makes a huge difference to a touring company if there is a nice space for them to come to during their time at a venue. A nice place to lie down helps too!
- Comfort is very important.

Time and conversation
- Offering some time over a coffee to meet artists and hear about the work/answer any questions they may have. It would be great if more venues were able to meet outside of their space, perhaps closer to where the artist is based to save their time and money?
- Very useful for venues to share databases/contacts with artists as well as templates.

- There are lots of programmes for young directors, designers, performers etc.. but it would be great to have some more schemes for emerging producers as well as schemes specific to venue management and other venue-based roles. We have a Young Artistic Directors Programme but wouldn't it be great to have a Young Executive Directors one too.
- Skills sharing workshops can be very helpful - perhaps these could form part of a co-sharing style set up as discussed above?
- A venue 'surgery' would be great, where artists can ask particular questions or queries that a venue might be able to help with (producing, marketing, technical etc...). This could happen at a particular time each week and could be both drop in and online. Important to think carefully about the timing of something like this to ensure it is inclusive.
- Fundraising help would be very appreciated!

Marketing support:
- Many artists don't have marketing assets at the point of being programmed. Could the venue offer free space for production photography? If the venue has a camera and a tripod could the artist/company use this to shoot a hero image? Or other marketing assets such as rehearsal shots and videos?
- Really helpful when venues give artists a clear checklist of what they need e.g. specific image sizes and different lengths of copy.
- Copy support from venue marketing departments would be very useful, particularly for those who are dyslexic or have not written copy before.
- It is important for all venues to spend some time getting to know the show and the shows teams in order to properly market it.
- Skills sharings would be very helpful, e.g. photoshop. Could artists come in and sign into the venues software for an afternoon to do some design work? This could feed back into the membership scheme?

- Responding to ALL programming enquiries / submissions even if it is with bad news. Lots of artists are finding out they aren't getting slots or spaces only when the successful ones are announced on social media (!).
- Responding with some helpful feedback, even if it is short.
- If it does not feel right for the venue it would be helpful if venues could suggest which venues it would be right for? Perhaps even detailing who the best person is to contact at the venue if they have a connection there.
- Perhaps artists could opt in for community feedback when they submit a script or proposal? If a venue does not have the time or resources to give comprehensive feedback on a submission perhaps they could put together a volunteer community of script readers who would be interested in giving their individual response?
- Very important for scratch nights to give comprehensive audience feedback. This is particularly helpful when typed up as it means the artist can copy and paste this into proposals etc...

Some of the other things we discussed were:
- Application processes for programming - why are these often so complicated? It would be great if venues could find a way of sharing the same application questions/form this would save time for artists who are rehashing the same information into different formats for different forms.
- Venue support is REALLY appreciated and often is just as (if not more) valuable than co-producers.
- It would be useful for venues and artists who are working together to outline very clearly at the start of the engagement what each party will do. i.e. 'we will send this newsletter out to this group'.
- If as a venue you can't do something - just say no.
- Sharing of information is very important - there isn't often a sense of joined upness between venues or between venues and artists.
- Mail outs or newsletters for artists - are these just annoying? If they contain opportunities then they are very helpful. It is helpful if emails like these are broken into categories (jobs, shows etc...) so that the reader can filter what they want to read. Arts Admin e-digest does this.
- The rural touring network does a big event where village halls and community centers can come and find out about a large number of shows in one go. This model works quite well - is this something that can be adopted elsewhere? It's also very helpful for venues to have links with rural touring networks.
- Agreements - important to be outlining what happens after an engagement and what happens if the show is a success.

Some of the programmes that came up that artists found useful in the past were:
- House touring network at Farnham Maltings do great free/low cost workshops also has some good written resources. There is a funding seminar happening at VAULT on Thursday.
- Bristol Ferment.
- Arts Admin recently did a helpful fundraising workshop - these come up quite often.