I have the projects – as a young producer, how do I make them happen?

Convener(s): Lucy Oliver-Harrison

Participants: Lucy Oliver-Harrison - [email protected], Vanessa Smith – [email protected], Sasha Milaire Davia, Chris Grady – [email protected], Mark Smith – [email protected], Amber Homes – [email protected], Katie Roberts, Lisa Turner – [email protected], Laura Hayes – [email protected], Trisha Lee, John Roberts – [email protected], Sylvia Harrison – [email protected], Nicole Charles – [email protected][email protected], Shakera Louise Ahad – [email protected], Holly Conneely – [email protected], Jo – [email protected], Simon – [email protected] (twitter@simonwithaz), Sam – [email protected]


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Questions raised/discussed: 

What is a producer? Financial, creative, problem solver, fundraiser (difficulty of finding yourself becoming a full time fundraiser)

Is there such a thing as a ‘Creative Producer’?

Do we spend too much time trying to define what a producer is rather than actually just doing?

When can you call yourself a producer? Not a point when you can call yourself a producer, just the scale on which you are working.

Artistic Directors as producers

Everyone’s role ends up overlapping.

Not over defining everyone’s role.

We are all having to be more like producers whether as an actor, director or a producer.

Making it happen:

Managing projects – how to charge for projects that aren’t in theatres? Asking people for donations instead – will probably find you get more money than you would have dreamed of charging for.

Making projects happen in your living room – working outside venues to make them happen – cheaper and sometimes more exciting.

Developing a core group of people of whom none of you get paid. Development essential in order to have that trust and relationship to run a successful unpaid process

Not just about building your network of theatre people but friends who have gone into well-paid jobs (!)

Warwick University group – asking people for small investments – they sent people envelopes with goose feathers inside. Became instantly memorable

Fundraising events as audience builders – shouldn’t just be seen as money-making

Club nights combined with theatre – building an audience database and making theatre “cool”.

London Bubble – the audience voted on a theme of what they wanted the play to be about – involving your audience, making it for them.

Pay before you play – working with money in advance. Getting the space for free and covering your costs instantly.

Institutions such as “We Fund This” who help with fundraising. However, being aware of hidden costs that these may have

Difference between Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Cameron Mackintosh – Cameron will still invite anyone who has invested in a show of his – how important it is to maintain those relationships

Working with restrictions can be the best part

Who are the six people you want in the front row? Identifying who you want and using that.


Sharing knowledge

Sharing knowledge – essential to work with your peers and share knowledge, not be too precious.

Not being frightened to ask e.g. Going to a touring company and asking them the basics of how to book a tour

In the future, remembering where you’ve come from and who helped you and passing this information on

Chris Grady runs monthly surgeries with Tom Atkins at the National Theatre. Go to www.chrisgrady.org

Making bigger projects happen – collaborating with regional theatres/other producers to make it happen

Imparting knowledge when you have the experience and not being afraid to ask for this experience.

Everyone recognises how important it is not to lose the independent sector so should work together to share what we know and ensure the its future.



Essential to always be passionate about your projects

Working as an usher to allow yourself time during the day to do your projects

Working within theatres (e.g. administratively) and building a relationship with them over time to the point where they might be interested for you to produce your show there



Having ideas and recognising that it can take a long time to make them happen.

9 year cycles from initial thought.

Pushing a project to happen prematurely can be detrimental. Can come across as being forced


Where to find these people/the work

Finding regional theatres that are making work which you find exciting, seeing the work and meeting the people afterwards who made it and telling them what you thought. Flattery gets you everywhere!

Going to readings and picking things up new work there.

Building relationships with Regional Theatres and asking to be “based” within their building e.g. office space, postal address

Seeing as much unusual work as possible. You never know what it might bring

Commercial vs subsidised – can work to bring the two together on one project but requires careful management.

Becoming more inventive about how we work together.


Apprenticeships vs. Experience

Mentoring/Apprenticeships – part time maybe works best in order to allow young producers to keep working on their own projects around it

Subsidised theatres needing producers more than ever – maximising on this

Stage One – useful for commercial producing but not so much for touring theatre

Being able to do everything makes you stronger as a producer. Do as many things as possible.

Teaching yourself.



Going to Edinburgh and seeing who’s popular/award winning and getting in touch with them

Having a project and going to Edinburgh the year before with that project in mind and sussing out the venue etc.

Best time to talk to a venue is the year before and approaching the venue managers during the festival – might seem the worst time but they are there all day and will have a fair amount of time.

Financial drain vs. platform

It can bring opportunities – Bright is a Ring of Words started at Edinburgh last year. From all the people they invited one person from Wilton’s Music Hall picked it up and now they are producing the tour. IT CAN HAPPEN!

Investment in PR companies – the best PR is yourself. Getting the right PR is so important – being the best company doesn’t always mean they’ll work for you. Important to try and put names to faces – being remembered.


Escalator East to Edinburgh for those based in the Eastern Region


Useful Sites

Rehearsal Space London

Need to make the most of your rehearsal space? Join Rehearsal Space London.

Rehearsal Space London is a unique virtual marketing space for theatre companies, arts establishments and community sector groups.

It’s a space for you to advertise your rehearsal rooms, get the word out to prospective hirers, and increase your bookings.

For a flat yearly membership fee of £30 we will input your listing and maintain it on your behalf.

No hidden fees, no commissions. We look after the site and your listing, and you look after the bookings they bring. 

To find out more information, request an information pack, or to join contact Fiona Campbell at Make Believe Arts.


T: 0208 691 3803

E: [email protected]


Camden Theatres Project

They have 22 fringe spaces

You can do workshops in the community in return for rehearsal space

Online application

Platforms for new work


‘Space to Create’

Pitching for a space

JMK Award

Director Award – gives directors a space at the Young Vic for August

Using awards for other disciplines to build work with directors etc that you have a relationship and want to make worth with 

Independent Article on Friday 28th January about Betty Blue Eyes  - how Cameron Mackintosh challenges the artists