Since 2010 I have been fascinated with producing and everything the encompasses what is needed to be a producer. I have dedicated myself to developing better networked, resourced development opportunities for both emerging and established producers working particularly in the South West.
This is a life long commitment but there are a number of examples and resources below. If you are an emerging or established producer and would like to have a conversation about opportunities or ways to work together, support each other and develop new skills then please do get in touch.
Since relocating to Bristol I have started to run gaggles again which can be a great way to meet other producers and as a platform to share ideas, and work through challenges etc. You can find out more about those here.
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER SCHEME | WIDE AWAKE DEVON
Between 2010-2011 myself and fellow Co Director Monique Luckman identified a significant lack of professionals calling themselves producers in the county. From our observations and awareness of other localities, we believed that Devon would greatly benefit from a more active culture of producing that would see a growth in productivity both within the county and work being exported nationally.
We worked with a number of local partners and received Arts Council England support to develop the Associate Producer Scheme model.
The aim of the scheme was to begin to develop a producing culture, through building awareness of producing, populating the community with new producers. We would select 3 associate companies, pushing them to new levels of activity with the support of a producer, provide training opportunities for producers and artists wanting to develop these skills in the county, and commit wholeheartedly to putting live performance in Devon firmly on the national map. We would employ 3 energetic, committed and passionate individuals who want to develop skills, opinions and critique as well as experience of working closely with a company/artist as a producer, within a small team.
The purpose of this Associate Producers Scheme was to train and develop 3 producers on the job, equipping them with skills in producing and developing their own networks. Along side the successful associate producers and companies we offered training in touring, budgeting, marketing to artists and producers living and working in Devon.
We employed 3 Associate Producers for 8 months at 0.4 FTE.
If you would like to find out more about the legacy and impact of the Associate Producer Scheme please do get in touch.
A PRODUCER'S BOOKSHELF
A list of all the books that had influenced who I am as a producer, a collaborator and a person.
If you have any books/articles/videos you think I should read please email me or tweet me @emilybronwen
- The Producers – Alchemists of the Impossible.
- The Web of Inclusion: Sally Helgesen. (Signposted to me by Sue Kay)
- Creativity, Inc: Ed Catmull, with Amy Wallace.
- TedTalk: Quiet by Susan Cain (signposted by Clore)
- Open Space Technology (3rd edition): Harrison Owen. (Signposted to me by Seth Honnor)
- The Creative Habit: Twyla Tharp. (on my Drama BA reading list)
- Issues in Curating (Contemporary Art & Performance): Edited by Judith Rugg & Michele Sedgwick.
- How to Change the World: John – Paul Flintoff (Bought in Arnolfini bookshop)
- A Deliberately Developmental Organisation – Paper by Robert Kegan, Lisa Lahey, Andy Fleming, Matthew Miller, and Inna Markus. (Download paper) (Signposted to me by Katie Keeler)
A PRODUCER CONVERSATION
Doorstep Arts invited me to host a Producer Conversation in October 2015. I began with a provocation, followed by a number of small group discussions and an open conversation.
Here is the provocation:
Over the last 5 years I have worked at establishing myself as a Producer placing my feet firmly on Devonian soil. I am on a mission to help create a more ambitious, collaborative and exciting ecology for makers, producers, and audiences across Devon and the South West.
A key part of this mission is to keep having conversations and offering opportunities for people at all stages of their careers to be able to share their knowledge and experiences, to ask questions, and to meet future collaborators.
We come across divides all the time in the arts here, they lie in Devon’s challenging geography, in working across art form, in the roles within the sector, in understanding obstacles in emerging and established practice, in age and in gender, in a freelance practice versus a PAYE job. And there are many more.
You can often replace the word ‘divides’ with the word ‘frustrations’. We engage in many conversations about historic and current frustrations about Devon’s arts landscape and it’s place within a national context. These conversations are full of passion and an openness to change but i’m not sure how fast they are shifting. That’s why programmes like the ones Doorstep are curating are so essential in brining some of the best work being made nationally to audiences who would not have the opportunity to see it otherwise, and the offer to brilliant Devon based artists like Ruth, to perform in a town and a site, where she may not otherwise have the chance.
ARE YOU A PRODUCER?
In 2011 I collaborated with Theatre Bristol on a project called ‘Are you a Producer?’, this collaboration has so far, involved holding 2 open spaces, 1 in Bristol and 1 in Plymouth.
An Invitation from Katie Keeler, Executive Producer of Theatre Bristol
Are you a Producer?
I think I am now. I never thought I would be. I did not know what one was. When I started out in 1995, I thought I’d be an Arts Administrator. I knew I wanted to work with creative people. I knew I loved live performance. I knew I liked getting the best out of people and getting stuff done. I knew I was organised, caring, and reasonably articulate. Turns out that these things are useful if you want to be a Producer. Hang on – is that different from being an arts administrator?
I think it is but most producers do do a lot of administration and there are loads of people called General Manager, Administrator, Performer, Education Officer, Director, Artistic Director etc who could probably also be described as Producers if they wanted to be – or in some cases, dared to be.
It’s a hot topic at the moment – the role of the Producer. I think it is often over-played, but I am also grateful for a bit of attention. My skills and experience seem to be in demand. How did that happen? I thought that being a good producer was about being invisible. It is not about YOU. At the moment though, the spotlight is on the Producer and the increasing complexities of the role. It makes me want to up my game.
As a collective of Producers, Theatre Bristol has had a big impact on the live performance industry in Bristol and further afield I think. We support the work of over 150 artists and producers. We can step in to help artists self-produce, we commission and produce the work of Bristol-based artists (most recently in partnership with Bristol Old Vic, Tobacco Factory and Mayfest) and we provide a leadership role for a city with the ambition to be THE place to make and experience world-class performance. I feel hugely privileged working for Theatre Bristol because I get to work with lots of artists and producers and I learn a huge amount from them.
Everyone seems to struggle to explain what a Producer actually does. I find myself mumbling about looking after people, holding onto risk, absorbing stress, doing the things that fall down the cracks, asking the big questions, crunching the numbers …… What a Producer actually does might not be the right question though. What is the potential? How can we be better?
We thought we’d find out what Producers from near and far are thinking about right now. We thought we’d have a get together – with food obviously. No one can argue that what producers need is to be connected. This is the start of an effort to better connect us and to exchange ideas and talk ambitiously. We’d be really pleased if you could join us.
There’ll be drink and the event is free – all we ask is that you tell us you’re coming so that we can cater appropriately.
We hope you can make it.
Katie Keeler – Executive Producer, Theatre Bristol
Although Open Space may be new to you, it has been used productively all over the world. It is an interactive and inclusive way of structuring a meeting that allows you, the participant, to set the agenda. It is a dynamic way of talking about complicated and difficult things. You will not be talked at or asked to talk about things you don’t want to. By the end of the event the following will have occurred:
- Every issue of concern to will have been raised, if they took responsibility for doing that.
• All issues will have been discussed to the fullest possible extent.
• A full record of issues and discussions will be published online in a format where people can carry on the discussion even after the event.
• And YOU will have taken part in making it happen.
This event is a collaboration between Theatre Bristol and Emily Williams (Creative Producer at the Plymouth Barbican and Co Founder of Wide Awake Devon) and the Theatre South West network (Creative Ecology Wiltshire, Theatre Gloucestershire, Activate, Wide Awake DevonThe Works – Dance & Theatre Cornwall and Take Art.