Now more than ever, as a theatre Producer, I have to think about selling my work and my ideas whether that is to a venue, audience member or investor. With the industry increasingly saturated with theatre makers – and with it becoming more and more difficult to receive public funding – this idea of ‘selling your ideas’ feels like something many emerging artists may need to start doing in order to get their work seen.
It was for this reason that Tamasha Theatre Company, for whom I work part time, decided to host the BBC Creative Skillset Pop-Up workshop. The day aimed to provide practical skills to know how and when to find, refine, pitch or ditch an idea. As a company Tamasha are keen to support and encourage self producing artists and so the skills highlighted and practically explored in the BBC workshop will likely be very useful when applied to their own work.
I have been working with Tamasha Theatre Company as their TDA (Tamasha Developing Artists) Scratch Producer since March this year and so attended the BBC workshop to see if it could assist my work as a Theatre Producer in London.
To give you a little background, Tamasha was formed in the 80s with the aim of championing British-Asian artists and stories, and helping them make the crossover into the theatrical mainstream. They have since been at the forefront of placing the voices of emerging and established artists from culturally diverse backgrounds centre-stage. Here at Tamasha, my role involves producing the company’s quarterly scratch nights. The position was one for an ‘emerging Producer’ with the aim of giving a young theatre maker a chance to work as part of an established theatre company. The position has been so fantastic for me, expanding my skills and knowledge, and allowing me to learn from those around me whilst having complete artistic control over the events themselves.
Tamasha was the perfect location for the BBC Creative Skillset Pop-Up as we have a catalogue of almost 2000 developing artists; these include actors, directors, film makers, producers, writers, designers and more. Since Fin Kennedy has come on board as Tamasha’s new Co-Artistic Director, this is a part of the company that is continuing to expand. Fin is really keen on helping, supporting and advising emerging artists on how to produce their own work and it is workshops like this that help enable artists to understand a bit more about how to do this.
Unlike TV and film, in the theatre industry (at least the subsidised area of it anyway) we aren’t ever asked to pitch an idea in front of a room full of executives. Generally productions leave the ground by the artists involved building strong relationships with venues and applying for money from the Arts Council or other such funding bodies. During the BBC Creative Skillset course we were taught to describe our vision for our work, thinking of it as a pitch, and this was actually very helpful. It is sometimes easy to forget that, even when you are extremely passionate about something and think your idea is the best thing since sliced bread, that isn’t necessarily enough to make the person you’re speaking to feel the same. Somehow you need to get that person as excited as you are, and to do that you must sell them your idea.
Over the past couple of years I have moved from the role of Production Manager to Producer. It has been quite an adjustment; from being the practical problem solver to a creative collaborator and leader. As a Theatre Producer it is necessary for me to think of ideas, develop and implement them, whilst providing and maintaining an environment in which my creative team can do the same. The Creative Pop Up helped me to think about which areas of this process hold my strengths and which areas I might want to find support with. Realisations such as this are vital in order to form a team that supports one another and also allows one another to flourish.
With conversations and exercises on leading creative teams, generating ideas and designing a pitch, I came out of the workshop feeling inspired and able to think about my work in a different light. I will definitely be carrying my learning forward and recommend anyone who produces, or is thinking of producing their own work to go along to one of these workshops.
To find out what Tamasha are up to, or how to become one of our TDAs then please visit our website – www.tamasha.org.uk
For more information on the BBC / Creative Skillset Pop Ups follow this link – www.bbcacademy.com/module/50494982
Blog by Tamasha’s Scratch Producer, Amy Clamp.