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Producers network | Are you a producer?

Issue: Are you a producer? Producers’ Network

Convener(s): Naomi Wilds, Laura White

Participants: Steve McLaren Urban Angel, Ashley Smith Comfortism, Chris Sudworth The Core Corby, Naomi Wilds Adverse Camber, Wendy Red Earth Theatre, Lawrence Ward Ripple Effect, Angharad Fifth Word, Ian Gillie The Curve, Nick Wood writer. Paul The Optimists China Plate Warwick Arts Centre, Laura White Arts Council England

There were many different kinds of producers in the group. People producing their own work, Venues interested in or already producing, independent and freelance producers, people who have production companies producing tours and their own work, or working with other networks and venues.

What is this thing called Producing?
Producing works at different scales and involves lots of different aspects of work.
The person who makes it happen and raises the money and the last to get paid.
The person who does the bits other people don’t want to do
Person with overall creative vision, who sees the big picture and negotiates relationships
Person who brokers relationships between artists, creative team, venues, funders
Person who manages the budget
Person who tour books
A venue who has resources they can offer, space, work with a director, technician, work as co-producer or in association with artists/companies
There’s a perception that more producers are needed – ACE looking for good bids for work made in the region which is touring out. Writers who would like producers to work with them and get their work on, not necessarily in the large producing houses.
Some producers unclear about range of skills needed, how to gain skills, whether what they’re doing is producing or administration, how much creative input do you have – overall sense from discussion is every producer can work differently, each project can be different, it’s a mix of skills and roles and about what makes sense for each project.  You learn on the job, even if you have training, but developing skills in isolation doesn’t have to be the case – we can network with each other and share skills and ideas when we’re happy to do that
Whats the difference between a producer, a creative producer and a general manager?  Producing is intrinsically creative. It can involve being a general manager or depending on scale of operation you might get someone else in to do the general managing/budget and focus on overall vision. A lot depends on scale.
When surveying artists and producers, FUEL found out that all producers loved the creative aspect of their work most, and artists didn’t like the creative part of what the producers did so much…
Most producers wouldn’t want to work on a project unless they had some creative influence.
Is it dangerous for artists to rely on producers, should they become skilled in producing their own work so they retain control?  West Midlands training scheme focuses on skilling up artists. This can also be useful for producers when working with artists, that they understand the skills producers are bringing and can work well with them.
Would a producers network be helpful?  To air questions, talk to each other even when people’s different approaches/skills are concerned – yes – we can set up an email network/bulletin board and see what comes from it.
A network needs to be about what people are prepared to GIVE as well as GET.
Producers balance raising the finance, managing creative investment in and balancing that with money out.  Producers like Steven Daldry, Max Stafford Clark, Cameron McIntosh are about being the creative force and the BOSS.
Different producers work at different scales.
We’re all needing to look commercially at how we make it all work financially so that we make enough money to cover the investment going in, no matter what scale we are working at. Building up a company and making that financially viable is part of the task.
Trust is key in producing, trusting the people you work with. Contacts are also key.
There are some differences between artforms, film producers, music producers and theatre producers can work in different ways but can also learn from each other.
There are training courses you can access ITC training, BECTU, PA Producers’ Alliance.

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

There’s no pre-existing rule book, everyone makes up their own way of doing it, learn from experience and based on what works and what doesn’t.
Producing draws on a range of different skills and works at different scales.
A network may be useful to at least know who is producing and whether you could ring them or post up a question on a bulletin board.  Naomi Wilds is happy to set up an email based bulletin board or networking group as a first step (at least exchanging emails from all those in the session or others who might like to join up in that) and allow it to self-administer and form into whatever form people find useful after that.  If there is already a network in place which we don’t know about but can join or another organisation wants to host it, happy to defer to that.

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