First of all we discussed the common problems - these pretty much all transcended scale of venue and size of company;

There was a real issue with venues replying to programming enquiries - even those with big national reputations, and most frustratingly, even for those who have existing relationships with venues. The mass exodus from the industry in all areas has clearly been a factor in terms of venues having less staff to deal with programming - but was a problem before the pandemic...

It seems to be an accepted wisdom that only one-person touring can possibly break even financially (and even then we mean literally one person on the road!) Which leaves the depressingly reality that only subsidised work can tour....

Trustees of companies that have touring as a part of an overall business model have begun to question the financial benefits to the organisations - this makes the argument to core funders other than ACE very difficult - particularly if you are also funded by a Local Authority or are based in a LA building...

During the pandemic many of us pivoted to create work at the hyperlocal level and this really engaged and embedded work in our geographical communities that may previously have been taken on a larger tour - perhaps a return to this approach may help to re-balance? The issue with that is the requirement (for NPO's at least) to tour nationally and to take work to the co called 'priority areas'.

National touring is almost impossible now to do in a sensible geographical way which means it is incredibly difficult to make environmentally responsible - exclusion zones which many mid-scale venues still use must stop, and we have to get residencies of more than one night in each space - this would help to gather audiences via word of mouth for the venues as well. However, to do this, those of us with subsidy may have to be more flexible on fees/guarantees on multiple nights; venues are being hammered by energy bills and the cost of living crisis too..

We must shift the 'us and them' thinking - perhaps more co-producing is the answer? And perhaps a longer run in a venue and the appeal of TTR to a venue helping produce your show could work?

We need to share information - Producers and tour bookers need to start to share info...there are already some networks - HOUSE (Farnham Maltings)
and Kent Producers network (run by Jo Crowley) were mentioned

on a 1 nighter sometimes pushing for a guarantee against a split rather than a straight fee, can be more beneficial if you think you can get an audience

The biggest hurdle is shifting the requirement of venues to have a full film, trailer and photos of a show prior to booking - this mean all the production costs have to happen before any income and is almost impossible if not an NPO - this is the simplest change venues can make that could be the most beneficial - feels like a session convened at ITC or UK Theatre's conferences to tackle this and find affordable solutions that make venues feel comfortable about booking, is key.

Do we also go back to our roots (for some of us anyway) and begin to present work in non-theatre spaces and swerve venues altogether? Town halls for mid-scale work and community spaces for small? Perhaps more of a mix of both? BUT this does require a lot of infrastructure and to have the right team! It's hard work!

We can ask more questions of the venues themselves - particularly around marketing - Proteus sends our own marketing questionnaire out to venues when we tour to establish what they will be doing so we can fill the gaps (I appreciate this is because we have a Marketing Manager and time for those that don't is limited). We can also get involved or visit their community events - South Street in Reading has regular meetings with the community and this can really help build audiences

And don't even get us started on International touring.....

I'm really happy to continue the conversation, my email is [email protected]
Others in the session happy to chat more were: [email protected]
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[email protected]
[email protected]
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