Working with a producer/ Artists Alone / Other Ways

Annie Fitzmaurice, 2 October 2012

Fiona Darling, Stephe Fletcher, Tessa Buddle, Richard Grossick, Ester Wilson, Graeme Philipps, Polly, Annie Fitzmaurice.

I called the session to look at ways of working with a producer or other ways of structuring how all the work around a theatre production is shared, in order to open up the best possibilities and opportunities for the work created. I am supported in producing by Richard Morgan at the Royal Exchange and also have some admin support all of which is enormously valuable, but want to look at how this support may be developed in the future and to look at models of how producing/artist relationships could work.

Lots of artists start off producing their own work.

It's often one person in the group who takes on the majority of the responsibility (lots of nods of recognition).

Some people then ‘accidentally’ become producers (because they are good at it).

Others struggle to find a producer.

We talked about what a producer does:-

Make an environment where are artists are supported to make work.

Do the work that is around the artists - collaborate on print, marketing.

Understand finding an audience for the work.


Have a great list - schedule the jobs and the time they take (realistically).

Time management. The to-ing and fro-ing.

Division of labour involves trust.

Open Culture in Liverpool put people together, support a wide range of work and opportunities and operate as a social enterprise.

Different structures work for different companies.

Producer and administrator roles are different.

20 Stories High have two artistic directors and an adminsitrator - this works really well for them.

Another example that works well for someone is a director/designer/producer making her own work.

Funding from the Arts Council to pay for a producer - what do you ask for, what do you need, what is the structure you need to create, what is the job, how would it work, project based, freelance, part time, full time.

A great production manager or brilliant stage manager can sort out the scheduling and organizing once you are in rehearsal… a project manager.

Freelance producers - where are they?

In London.

Could a company based in the North West work with a producer based in London.

If you have worked really hard to create work and set up a company - how do you hand over the baby…?

Is the burden solved by paying someone to do a job, or does it need to be someone equally invested.

How does that relationship come about?

“I can't do this on my own any more.”

How can companies develop without a producers culture to support them taking steps to the next level? ( Whatever their next stage may be).

Sharing the burden to increase possibilities and freedom.

Driving the work along and doing all the leg work are two different things.

Diving up the responsibility - building a relationship. Like any relationship it takes time and you have to find the right person who “gets you” and gets you work.

What are the choices in the North West. Who is there????

There is a lack of producers. A lack of a culture of producers. London has FUEL and producers coming through BAC and NT Studio…how do young producers develop what is there for them here?

We want producers who are out there understanding and seeking opportunities, finding venues. Building scope for the work. Helping with the journey that an artist goes on. Leading and developing.

There are no training opportunities for producers. There were no training opportunities for directors at one time - recognizing and developing the need.

The need for a producer can come at a later stage - making the most of the artistic work requires time, and demands certain skills….

For work outside theatres, producers negotiate permissions, develop partnerships, deal with H&S, hold the reigns, take the flack!

The London producers model is working well.

Protecting the artist from some of the shit, so that they can make work. Sharing the responsibility when they are busy with the creative work.

It's particularly important when you start collaborating beyond your own core group.

A producer maybe a creative member of the team or not - it depends.

FLUIDITY. - It all depends on the project.

A producer can have connections that an artist needs.

A company can apply for funding for organisational development, with a producer attached. Sometimes a company finds it difficult to relinquish control, in order to open up new relationships. Let the ambition lead, get bigger? Fill theatres….?

There may be a critical point when you want to make a bigger project, the decision to go further…

Could there be a similar model to FUEL in the region?

They don't need a building.

There was an event last week, a meeting of venues/programmers who work with emergent companies and they talked about when these companies/artists are ready to go further afield, how do they break through?

ACTION - investigate ‘City Deals’ to identify if this government initiative could develop opportunities to develop producers.

ACTION - Find out if the Arts Council would fund bursary scheme to kick start the development of a producers culture - across the Northern Regional Arts Councils (perhaps also a sponsorship opportunity?) Trainee producers could be attached to a theatre/building/venue. These trainee producers could then work with companies who are developing work at the venues and beyond.


Producing, training producers, Producers, producers, Arts Council England, bursaries for producers, ACE, producing, producers culture, Artist and producers