Tanja Raaste, 27 January 2013

Why I called this session:

Many people start out by producing their own shows, and I'm very interested in their

experiences with this - I've started writing a book on this topic - what are the pitfalls,

what things are hard, what things are easy and go well?


Maria Thomas, Hannah Pierce, Gloria, Sarah Baesen, Lee McPherson, Daniela

Pasquini, Annie Fitzmaurice, Anna Marshland, Lauren Silver and some bumblebees!

Some groups are lucky to have one person who is happy to take on a production role,

others need to figure out a way to share out the tasks and the roles. Many people are

comfortable with creating, but not with getting funds and selling the show. How do we

do this?

It was pointed out that is it actually very beneficial to the thetre company/artist to

self-produce a few shows, as they then know better what they are looking for in a


Also, there are some things that you as the artist/company are best at - you know the

show best, so in some ways you are the best person to sell it/to get funding for it. Even

when you get a producer, or work with a marketer etc, you should ensure you have

plenty of input.

We then started breaking down what a producer does into roles. Depending on the

project, there will be different roles, and each role will have to be covered by

somebody. Here are a selection of roles we came up with:

- be the ‘2nd opinion’ person

- be the figurehead (when talking to press etc) - this includes taking any flak/negative

publicity and dealing with it

- being the person that holds things together

- being the enabler, introducing people to each other, being a matchmaker


- marketing

- press

- fundraising


- social media

- planning for the future = long term strategy and thinking

- standing in for the audience

- just an extra pair of eyes / ears (get a mate to do this part of ‘being a producer’!)

- seeing the wood for the trees - what are we doing this for?

So, how can you get these functions covered?

- Look at what skills you already have in-house and equally, what your limitations are

- Ask people you know for help (invite your friends friend who works in a PR company

out to lunch and pick their brain)

- get a mentor/ mentors

- volunteers

- buy in a particular skill/experience as needed

A problem:

It's a lot of work, and people want it to just ‘happen’!

Some suggestions when ‘wearing your producing hat’:

- connect with others, go see stuff?

- segment your work - be mindful and put down one hat before donning another,

sometimes we have conflicting interests as a director and producer or actor and


- have a contingency plan, and a contingency budget!

- if you are in a relationship with another theatre maker, make sure you have some

time together away from work!

Thoughts on being the producer:

- It can be wonderful when you have seen a project from the script all the way to the

end point. An amazing feeling.

- It can be a thankless role.

- You can feel immensely valued - anything you do is useful.

- It can be hard, when talking about your own work, to recognise your brilliance and

champion it.

- You see more stuff as a producer than as an actor (seeing other shows etc) so you

get more confident.

We also talked about the value of Q&A sessions - a feedback format by a dance artist

was discussed (when I find out whose it is I will add to this post):

1 - you share what you saw

2 - you offer your opinion about x (part of the show, a facet)

3 - that offer gets taken up or declined

4 - the company can ask the audience specific questions

Some other suggestions

- have people you trust

- keep it small

- ask for feedback about specific things


As a producer, you have to think about who the show is for? What kind of audiences?

How do you tell them what its about? Give them images. How do you market a

devised show?

- give them images

- do your R&D thoroughly and base your marketing and sales on that (you can always

change later)

- remember that Joe public does not always know the jargon - ‘site specific’ may mean

very little

- what is the show ABOUT - who are you talking to?

- difference between talking to you audience and a company biography (the latter

aimed at industry)

How did you learn to produce & lessons:

- being observant

- biggest lesson - the time it takes (top tip, give yourself enough TIME! - actors often

come in at the 11th hour, when loads of prep has already taken place). Timings are a

producer's call.

- write up your marketing materials and give it to someone on the outside to read over.

Social media

- don't just go on it to sell your show

- create your community

- who are your audience, go where they are, hang out in their forums

- engage people, don't just sell to them


- the more a venue shares your risk (eg box office split vs rental) the more they will

help you with marketing!

- the venue knows their audiences usually better than you do


In the same way you have a distinct creative voice with your work, you should develop

your artistic voice for producing.

How is your production unique? Know your ‘competition’. Who else is out there doing

similar things. How do you do yours differently. Don't just be another cupcake


Networking when looking to book a tour

- think of all the connections you may already have to theatres - ask them for


- research the biographies of everyone you know and find connections.

- ask specific people for specific help

Thank you for the really great discussion!


PS - the PR resource I mentioned is www.doyourownpr.co.uk (or possibly .com) -

loads of free articles. My newsletter for those who were interested can be signed up

for on www.nordicnomad.com

PPS - if you're interested in a self-producing forum - to swap notes, have discussions

etc, please drop me a line [email protected] and I'll get one set up!


fundraising, FEEDBACK, Audiences, PR, audiences, marketing your show, Feedback,

Producers, Fundraising, networking, devised work, producers, producing your own

work, feedback, social media, self-producing, Producing, producing, Devised Work

Comments: 1

Adam Milford, 28 January 2013

Have a look at my report ‘Artist as Entrepreneure’ for some useful website links which may help with the planning of

projects, setting up of companies and securing independent funding…