PRODUCERS UNITE (Lets talk producing) Jake Orr, 24 January 2015 The basis of this discussion was about the role of the producer, the support, network and need of producers today. Current established networks: Live Art Development Agency - a new network for Live Art producers is emerging, speak to LADA to find out more.| UK Theatre Producers - a Facebook group to share ideas, jobs and resources. SOUPing - Brighton based group who work together to support their independent producing. Young Vic - Potential new producer's network is about to emerge similar to the Director's Network. Dance Producers Network - a formalised group for dance producers and managers. North East Producers - a network for producers based in the North East. Stage One - for commercial producers. The discussion started by looking at the potential of a network for producers working in the independent sector. The idea of a ‘central intelligence’ was recommend - a space in which producers could share and have a network or hub for resources and ideas. There was much debate about this, especially looking at the definition of a producer and does a central network work when often a producer has so many roles and special skills. Creative producer vs producer There was much discussion over the terms creative producer and generic producer. The argument centered around the idea of a producer being creative, just as much as the artist. As one person commented, “artists call themselves artists, but have difficult artforms they work in. How is a creative producer any different to a producer?” The discussion continued to look at how a producer and the term ‘producer’ needs to be widened and stretched to fill the full remit of what a producer does. Bedford Creative Arts There is a new scheme which is looking at developing Associate Producers at Bedford Creative Arts. The event is full, but is a pilot looking at skills and workshops for creating an ongoing commitment with producers over a period of time. Other topics discussed were; Are there too many producers? How do you call yourself a producer? Does calling yourself a producer become a powerful tool or message to others? How do artists and producers work together? Is it essential that we define what a producer does? A question posed and discussed with the group. At times people felt it was needed, we producer, we create, we do, but others felt that the term needed to be fluid. Sharing resources There was much discussion on how we could potentially share resources. This could be example contracts, databases, networks, basic documentation etc. Again LADA producer group already share documents via Dropbox. The biggest concern with sharing documents was how much or how little someone was willing to share. Would it be open access or would it be on a case by case? One producer said they were nervous about sharing their work with someone after the amount of time and energy they have put into that piece of work/document. “People hire me for those skills, why would I give it away online for free?” On the other hand some producers were really keen to share everything, at times knowing that they would approach certain producers with certain skill sets in order to get what they needed (or to resolve a problem). Network The idea of an official network with producers was voiced. This could potentially be a network with a shared vision, with a membership base. Equally it could be a network that is self-administrated. Things producers want: - The ability to chat to other producers - Mentoring - Collaboration - General support Culture of being afraid There was much confession and discussion on a culture in which producers were afraid to ask or speak out about things they did or didn't know. Or even on asking. Why do we wrap ourselves in this culture, how do we get away from it? How do you find a producer? Discussion on speed dating vs dating vs marriage. The idea of the producer and artist relationship being that of a marriage. We spoke at length about risk taking, and how you have to build a relationship with a producer, to share risk and work. Producing and working with artists is a slow, slow process. It doesn't happen first, but over a long period of time. There was also concerns raised about the idea of a producer being the one who only raises money and there being a power dynamic - the artist ruling more than the producer. Artists being told they need a producer This seems to be a common thing that most producers experience. They have artists approaching them saying that someone (perhaps a venue) told them they need a producer, and then they look for it. The problem comes when artists may not be ready or need a particular SKILL or SERVICE that can be found elsewhere (accounting, marketing etc), which often a producer does (as part of a wider remit). University courses and producers Is it a good thing that there are now dedicated producer courses at universities? Does it fuel a good working relationship or is it all a waste of money? Nothing was resolved but two recent graduates from one of the courses made it clear that they did not feel like they were producers when they left the course. They needed more experience over a longer period of time “in the real world”. Problems facing producers The biggest problems facing producers is SUSTAINBILITY and, in general, like all people working in the arts, FUNDING and SURVIVAL. These things are not easy, and producers are no different. Interesting to note that someone said that the producer is a very UK-thing. In Germany, for example, a producer would be a production manager. OUTCOMES: - Producers need to speak more, and there is an opportunity to engage in this. - Producers should join the Facebook group for UK Theatre Producers (search for it and request to join) - Watch out for the launch of the new Young Vic producers' network. - Informal coffee mornings should be set up - Mentoring and help should be offered more. - Producers need to chat! Tags: Networks, Support, networks, Producers, Network, network, producers, support, Producing, producing Comments: 2 Amy Clare Tasker, 27 January 2015 Hi Producers! Can you please link to the Facebook group you mentioned? nothing comes up when I search for UK Theatre Producers. Thanks! Amy Jake Orr, 27 January 2015 The UK Theatre Producers group can be found here. Let me know if you struggle to access it.