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‘FROM START TO FINNISH’

HANDBOOK FOR EXPORTING A THEATRE PLAY Annemari Mäkinen & Milka Tanskanen


Contents Foreword.....................................1 Introduction.................................2 Chapter 1 ‘From Start to Finnish’....................4 Stakeholders........................7 Chapter 2 Edinburgh Festival Fringe...............13 Venues.............................16 Regulations........................19 Free Fringe........................21 Chapter 3 Project work...........................22 Chapter 4 Product ...............................25


Chapter 5 Financials..............................30 Chapter 6 Production..............................34 Pre-production.....................35 Casting............................36 Logistics..........................37 Chapter 7 Marketing...............................39 Marketing in the festival environment...41 Marketing material.................45 Reviews and awards.................48 Chapter 8 During the festival.....................51 Last words..................................53 Glossary....................................55 Bibliography................................56


Foreword Only knowing is not enough. If you read a book, you still have to utilise the knowledge you have gained from reading. All learned new skills have to be put into practice, which is the hardest part in the process of learning from books. Learning is something that does not happen overnight. It requires efforts and some time. This handbook is created to function as a tool for people working in the field of culture for exporting theatrical pieces. It aims to describe the different phases in the process of exporting theatre plays by using ‘From Start to Finnish’ project as a case study. After reading this book you should have a basic understanding of culture export in theatre environment, and you will be given an insight to the world’s biggest arts festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Then it is up to you to try out the given tips in practice. We, the authors, are International business students from HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences, and we have specialised in Culture Export Management. As part of our studies, we did culture related work placements. During the work placements we participated in ‘From Start to Finnish’ project by working as production assistants. Inspired by our experiences we decided to write a handbook that reflects on our knowledge of exporting theatrical pieces. As many theatres in Finland are taking their first steps when it comes to exporting their plays, we noticed that there was a niche for the handbook. The world is full of challenges, so be brave and face them with an open mind.

Annemari Mäkinen & Milka Tanskanen Porvoo 16.4.2014 1


Introduction There is no doubt that theatre industry, among other industries, has changed over the years and been affected particularly by economic factors. These days there are so many different ways for us to entertain ourselves, that theatre has lost its dominance from the times of ancient Greece. Anthony Alderson, the director of the Pleasance Theatre, believes that our communities have become more fragmented because of television, and other digital forms of entertainment. Yet, the need of human contact never disappears. People desire face to face communication and that is given to them on stage. Theatre will never disappear — it will always be part of our lives. It is just changing with the rest of the world. Theatre is a demanding export subject, since it is a combination of various art forms. Theatre performance is always a unique and personal show. It is not similar to a film which can be seen anywhere at any time. Each theatre performance is different, and it can be experienced only once. Because of the uniqueness of each theatre show, it cannot be copied. Due to that theatre is expensive to produce and exporting it requires bigger efforts. There might be challenges with language barriers or even with the content of the performance. Either adaptation or translation is often needed. Exporting theatrical piece of work varies from the export of other performing arts in a way that changes to the original are often needed. For instance dance and circus do not necessarily require translation or adaptation of the show when they are exported. The first obstacles of exporting theatre from Finland are the geographical position and isolation of the country. The number of networks with other theatres and theatre festivals internationally has been limited, and the life cycle of the production is short due to the limited number of audience in Finland. However, in Finland the government subsidised dance theatres have been forerunners in exporting pieces of the performing arts. It might be that a small audience and modest ticket prices have contributed to that. 2


Because exporting theatrical pieces is a challenging task, this handbook is created to clarify the obstacles and to help the people planning on exporting their products. The different phases in the process of exporting theatre plays are described in the handbook and the ‘From Start to Finnish’ project is used as a case study. The handbook advices culture related businesses by identifying the challenges they may face during the process of exporting, and it provides valuable information and tips for companies unfamiliar or unsuccessful in exporting their products. The handbook also gives the reader a basic understanding of the ´From Start to Finnish´ project and about the issues that were faced in the project under review. The background and different parties involved in the ´From Start to Finnish´ project are introduced in the beginning of the book. Also the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as a platform for the export products is outlined. The product chapter describes the views on what kinds of plays should be exported to the festival in order for them to be worth of performing. The important matters in the project such as financial, pre-production and marketing are discussed. These chapters include valuable information about funding provided by the government, steps in the pre-production process and important marketing activities in a new environment. The handbook is written based on the experience gained from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as well as interviews with people working in the field. Also several sources of literature have supported the writing process. After reading the handbook the reader will have a basic understanding of the process of exporting theatrical pieces to an international theatre festival.

”The information technology has revolutionised the information handling, so even the smallest organisations now have the possibility to access the information wanted.” – Anthony Alderson, the director of the Pleasance Theatre

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Chapter 1 ‘From Start to Finnish’

1.

‘From Start to Finnish’

It cannot be clearly defined where the idea for ‘From Start to Finnish’ project came from — there is no one truth. ‘From Start to Finnish’ is a combination of thoughts of several individuals working in the field of culture, and all of them have their own view of how everything started. In 2004 the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture brought out the condition of the culture export in Finland. It was described to be rising internationally as a prominent competitor compared to the other countries’ supply. Finnish culture production was stated to be appreciated internationally; however the organisations were not able to respond to the international demand. From the aspect of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the strengths of the Finnish culture export were big creative equity, high quality education and research in the field of culture, strong know-how in technology, good domestic infrastructure in culture, functional local market and high quality creative production. Between 2007 and 2011 a national promotion programme for exporting culture was drawn up by the Ministry of Education and Culture in close collaboration with the stakeholders in the cultural field. The programme aimed to raise the export recognition of creative and cultural industries, and the vision was to triple the worth of cultural exports. As part of the promotion programme, the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture established a musical export project aiming to export Finnish musical productions. The fund was granted for three out of seven applicants. The project was divided into four different parts: the order of the manuscript, production in Finland, translation of the manuscript and exporting the production. The project was a huge investment for the ministry, and it generated three musical productions. As the project was coming to an end, and it had involved only musical theatre, it was enquired by the stakeholders whether the ministry could also support the export of Finnish theatre apart from musicals. 4


Chapter 1 ‘From Start to Finnish’

The same model used in the previous musical export project was put into use when a new theatre export project ‘From Start to Finnish’ was established. The concept of the project was set up by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and co-operated with Pleasance Theatre in UK and Ace-Production in Finland. The aim was to introduce Finnish talents and great approach of theatre, writing, producing and directing to UK, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and at the same time to build networks between the two countries. The Finnish plays which were exported to UK had been previously staged in Finland and then adapted to the British environment with British cast. The purpose of the project was to develop the export know-how of the government subsidised theatres and to create wider co-operation with various international operators. Ace-Production as a co-ordinating stakeholder was familiar to the Festival Fringe from the import point of view. Therefore there was knowledge on how the festival can be used as a marketing tool for the Finnish plays. Choosing the venue started by meeting with the directors of four of the biggest venues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Gilded Balloon, Assembly Rooms, Pleasance and Underbelly. The relationship with Anthony Alderson, the director of the Pleasance Theatre was the most beneficial as they were willing to open their doors for the project and showed an interest in Finnish productions. The cooperation started when the Pleasance Theatre was tested in the pilot year and as the relationship was created, the co-operation continued during the following years. The project started in 2010 with a pilot scheme of new Finnish writing Death of a Theatre Critic from Svenska Teatern, performed by British actors at the Fringe. The pilot scheme taught the structure of the co-ordination, gave an understanding of costs, and how the whole export process worked. In 2011 the ‘From Start to Finnish’ had its actual kick-off, when the theatres ordered the manuscripts. In 2012 the productions were produced in Finland, and in 2013 the translated and adapted productions reached the final destination, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. At the same time several Finnish productions were staged yearly at the festival as part of ’From Start to Finnish’ project based on a request from the Pleasance Theatre. In 2013 also C-Venues was tested as a venue since the Pleasance Theatre did not consider one of the plays to be fitting into their program. So far eight productions have been staged at the festival, and some of them have led to further operations. A few of the productions have been imported to Finland, staged in London, and even exported to China. The investments 5


Chapter 1 ‘From Start to Finnish’

to the project from the ministry and the theatres have created a huge amount of operations. The picture below demonstrates all the productions produced under the ‘From Start to Finnish’ name.

‘FROM START TO FINNISH’ PRODUCTIONS 2010 Death of a Theatre Critic by Joakim Groth (Svenska Teatern) to Edinburgh Fringe 2011

The Overcoat by Esa Leskinen and Sami Keski-Vähälä (Ryhmäteatteri) to Edinburgh Fringe Chaos by Mika Myllyaho (Turun Kaupunginteatteri) to Edinburgh Fringe

2012

In April and May The Overcoat and Death of a Theatre Critic had their London premiere Continuous Growth by Esa Leskinen and Sami Keski-Vähälä (Ryhmäteatteri) to Edinburgh Fringe My Elevator Days by Bengt Ahlfors (Svenska Teatern) to Edinburgh Fringe

2013

In March My Elevator Days at Svenska Teatern in Finland Bad Boy Eddie by Anna Krogerus (Kajaanin kaupunginteatteri) to Edinburgh Fringe Mammoth by Leea Klemola (Kuopion kaupunginteatteri) to Edinburgh Fringe Preen Back Yer Lugs! by Anders Slotte (Svenska Teatern) to Edinburgh Fringe

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Chapter 1 ‘From Start to Finnish’

STAKEHOLDERS ‘From Start to Finnish’ project involves lots of people from various organisations. All of them play an important role in the process of project execution and success. All the parties participate in the project from administrative tasks to the actual production of the plays. The table below demonstrates the connections between the parties, and how they communicate with each other. The table also shows the main responsibilities of each party involved.

communication throughout the festival

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Chapter 1 ‘From Start to Finnish’

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND CULTURE The Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture controls the whole ‘From Start to Finnish' project what is exceptional since typically the ministry does not undertake projects. Usually the ministry only guides and funds the projects they are implementing, but in this case the ministry has also set the frames, organised the application of the theatre plays and managed the cooperation. The ministry has chosen the exported theatre plays, co-ordinator and the venues. In the search and selection of the venue, the ministry had a big role. Due to that a concrete relationship with the Pleasance Theatre was built. Ultimately the ministry has had the power for decision-making. People from the ministry have been visiting the festivals and supervising the progress.

CO-ORDINATOR The exportation of the theatre plays could not have been handled only with the contribution from the ministry and the theatres, as it also required co-ordination as a link between all the parties involved. It would be challenging to any theatre to simply go to the festival without any knowledge about marketing in a new environment and without experience to know what the Fringe is all about. The process would have required a great amount of energy. Even though the co-ordinator’s role has been open for companies to apply, Ace-Production has been the only applicant and therefore been chosen for the job each year. In the pilot year, Ace tested the festival and the market, and has been improving since. Experience has become a significant resource for Ace-Production and it has helped the theatres to cope with a new, severe environment. The ministry has defined the tasks for the co-ordinator. All the interviewees agree that so far Ace-Production has been the only possible co-ordinator to handle the duties assigned for the co-ordinator. The duties include such as maintenance of local contacts, cul-

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Chapter 1 ‘From Start to Finnish’

tural adaptation and communication with the agents providing the actors. The co-ordinator was assigned to arrange space for castings and rehearsals, and to negotiate with the venues about the stages. The co-ordinator has not been responsible for arranging neither accommodation nor flights, nevertheless they have helped the theatres with those arrangements. Ace-Production is a production and export agency for performing arts, and it aims to create an active network with countries all over the world. The company owns, manages and produces works, concepts and rights, and it is specialised from production to marketing and even education. Ace-Production produces and co-produces national and international works suitable for cultural export and import. However, it is a small organisation. Therefore ‘From Start to Finnish’ project has been playing an important role in Ace-Production’s operations as it has been a long-lasting, continuing and evolving project involving a lot of work, several operations, certain income and control. The company is a warranty association for Svenska Teatern and founded in 2008.

THEATRES In the application criteria it is mentioned that only government subsidised theatres can apply funding for their production regarding ‘From Start to Finnish’ project. According to the ministry, the reason for the fund being exclusively for those theatres has been because they are considered to have the largest resources and the widest expertise. Finland has 57 government subsidised theatres — 46 of them are theatres and rest of them are dance theatres. One of the aspects of the project was to activate government subsidised theatres to internationalise their operations so that they could create contacts abroad, enrich artistically, and if everything works well, to gain profit.

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Chapter 1 ‘From Start to Finnish’

VENUE As mentioned before, the Pleasance Theatre was chosen to be the venue for the project under review. From the side of the Pleasance, the business model of the venue is very simple. The venue builds the platform and invites theatres to come and share their productions. The venue is kind of a filter for the works presented at the festival. The Pleasance Theatre is a partner with the student association and the university in Edinburgh, and that way receives help for the arrangements. “The Edinburgh University runs and owns all the buildings which we do all of this in. And the Pleasance comes and puts such event into these buildings. “ — Anthony Alderson. The money is recycled to education so it is kind of charity. It helps to create development base where the venue is able to influence, help and assist companies and individuals to come to the festival.

PR COMPANY Working together with a public relations company is not necessary when exporting theatre or attending a festival. Nevertheless, a PR company can help the production to break through. The company can make the audience numbers grow and raise the production’s reputation for instance by contacting the press. When having attentions to export to a foreign market, where a local knowledge is an advantage, it might be wise to hire a PR company to help with marketing of the production. The company can provide help with building contacts with the press and create a marketing plan. It is important to make a contract with the company and agree what is included in the PR company’s responsibilities. In ‘From Start to Finnish’ project a PR company called Kallaway was hired to build connections with the ministry and to develop the project further.

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Chapter 1 ‘From Start to Finnish’

The Ministry of Education and Culture carries the responsibility of the whole ‘From Start to Finnish’ project, and responsibility always involves challenges. The ministry plays an important role in exporting Finnish culture, and defining how the country is seen abroad. It is important to think about the audience in the export destination when making a decision of the plays to be exported. The audience might be different than in the country of origin, so by putting on the shoes of a festival goer helps to choose the plays. It should also be considered how Finland is seen abroad. The distance to the foreign market can be psychical, cultural and geographic. An organisation which knows enough about the markets can operate in the export destination country more efficiently. One challenge for the ministry was that as the festival took place during the summer, the communication between organisations was more challenging than usual. The venue and the exporting theatres have the biggest risk from the financial perspective. The financial risk gets bigger when the theatre invests more money in the project. Other challenges for theatres are arranging the production in a way that everything works, including the production related issues, marketing, and bringing the project team to the festival. The greatest benefit for the theatres is the fact that if their play is a success, the rights can be sold to other theatres. Awards help to increase the awareness. In case the theatre is interested in international operations, the opportunities at the festival are great. At its best the festival is a trade fair. There are jobs, opportunities and partnerships, and it offers new experiences. The risks in the project are shared between all parties. In the case of ‘From Start to Finnish’ project the risk can be considered to be greater for the venue since the theatres do not invest a significant amount of money to the productions as they get funding from the government. According to Anthony Alderson, the risk for the venue is high because everything in the festival environment is very costly. Due to the risk it is very important for the venue to be a part of the filtering process. The relationship between the venue and the theatre is not going to work if the piece of work does not sell any tickets. Despite of the high risk the venue has also benefited from the project. The benefit that ‘From Start to Finnish’ project has given to the Pleasance Theatre is a bigger network, and interesting partners from another side of the world. Due to the fact that the work is funded, the risk for the companies is reduced. Nevertheless, there is a chance that the production brought to the 11


Chapter 1 ‘From Start to Finnish’

festival is not something the venue wants to present. In 2013 one of the ‘From Start to Finnish’ plays was not considered to be ready and presentable from the venue’s point of view therefore it was staged in another venue. Pleasance Theatre had connections that helped to find another venue for that piece of work. The venue has authority to choose the plays they want to present, and they can reject productions which do not suit to their program. Also the co-ordinator has risks in the project in case they would be unable to fulfil the tasks defined in the contract. There are challenges in the communication between the co-ordinator and the venue, and managing the services provided to the theatres. The risks involve getting all the plays in the venue’s program in time, keeping up with all the deadlines, arranging bookings, and keeping contact with agents. The co-ordinator has contracts with each theatre involved in the project that outlines the responsibilities of each party. However, there might be differences in how well the parties interpret the contract. Despite of all the challenges there are also benefits including new networks, the rights of productions and selling them further.

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Chapter 2 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

2.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe — Open Access Art Festival Fringe 2013 Total shows: Performances: Venues: Performers: Estimated audience attendance at ticketed events: Countries represented: Cabaret 3,3%

2,871 45,204 273 24,107 1,943,493 52

Children’s Shows 4,6% Comedy 33,2%

Theatre 28,7%

Spoken Word 2,3% Musicals and Opera 3,6% Music 14,4%

Events 4,4% Exhibitions 1,5%

Dance and Physical Theatre 4%

Source: The Fringe Guide to Doing a Show, p. 5

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Chapter 2 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and it takes place every year in August for three weeks in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is an international event where the participants gather together from all over the world. Being the first Fringe festival in the world, it dates back to the year 1947. During the past years, thousands of big names in the world of entertainment have performed at the festival. In addition, unknown artists who are looking to build their career are seen each year. Fringe theatre as a word refers to a theatre which is not mainstream, and the definition of the word comes from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1948. The biggest difference between a Fringe festival and a conventional arts festival is that all the performers are welcome to apply, and traditionally the applicants are accepted in the order of received applies until the venues are full. Nowadays Fringe festivals can be found yearly from North America to Asia and Australia. The sizes of the Fringe festivals vary, but the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has kept its status as the first original Fringe festival in the world. In 2013 there were over 6,500 performances at the Edinburgh Fringe. The performers gather together from all the parts of the world and provide a wide range of entertainment to their audiences. Yearly different types of performances are set up at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. They are divided into ten main genre sections: theatre, dance and physical theatre, spoken word, comedy, musicals and opera, music, cabaret, children’s shows, events and exhibitions. Simply put, the festival provides something for every taste. All these different shows have traditionally similar kinds of features among each other. The shows are technically sparse and everything is kept very simple. One-person’s shows are common, and casts tend to be smaller than in mainstream theatre. The reason for this is that performing groups are travelling and the costs need to be kept to a minimum. The traditional Fringe production can be a new writing, edgy and include unusual material. Because the entry to the festival is relatively easy, the risk-taking is executable. The length of the shows is much shorter compared to a traditional theatre show, and due to that the ticket prices are lower, and people have time to attend several shows in one day. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is an economic and cultural driver, and it benefits the arts world as well as the Edinburgh city as a tourism destination. Fringe is also a fantastic place to meet new people, connect and represent own ideas. There are only few happenings in the world that can be compared to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, so learning to use the festival beneficially to each theatre’s purposes can be challenging. 14


Chapter 2 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

What is interesting about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is that nowadays it is as much of a trade fair as it is a festival. It is part of the nature of a trade fare that people come to the festival at their own risk. The Fringe has faced major changes over the years, and even though it is hard to imagine that the festival could grow any bigger, it keeps growing. People are more and more interested in the festival each year. Because of the rising interest during the recent years, the ticket prices have raised a lot and people tend to choose the shows “reasonably”. People choose to go to see shows that have received four or five stars from reviews instead of taking risks and choosing to go to see shows that they have never heard of. Another fact that has affected to the festival’s growth, is the development of technology. The Internet has made it possible to sell tickets faster and more efficiently all around the world. These days ticket systems make it possible to sell tickets simultaneously out of one place. It is a massive change compared to the times when there was limited technology available. The programme of the festival has also changed dramatically over the years. Still the change in genre of the performances at the festival is comparable to the change in the overall entertainment industry. After the year 2008 comedy has overtaken theatre with a great number of shows with 33,2% of the total number of performances. Theatre is the second largest part of the total number of shows with 28,7%. The comedy is taking over the festival each year, and the same development can be seen in the television as well. “Ten years ago you turned on the television and there was maybe one comedian on telly a week. You know, now there are 20-30 comedians on television every day. So of course they have a high profile. But that is also part of the economy because the television companies’ point of view it is cheaper to produce.” - Anthony Alderson In the same way economics have influenced to the festival programme. Comedy is quicker and easier to market because of television. Anthony Alderson sees it as part of the venues responsibility to protect the environment and take care of the versatility of the performances offered so that every year the programme includes all theatre, music, dance, and comedy. Alderson also points out that the people who come to the festival and go to see comedy, also enjoy theatre. They usually go to see the theatre performance next door in addition to the comedy show. Audiences go to see what they want to see — the entertainment that pleases them the most. 15


Chapter 2 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

“‘From Start to Finnish’, and particularly “Mammoth” to me represented exactly what is best about the Fringe: unusual, thought-provoking, and challenging. Just a pity more people hadn’t come, but in a way, that too is what the Fringe is all about!” - Greg Powrie, actor in Mammoth To find more information about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe please visit their official website: https://www.edfringe.com/

VENUES There are yearly almost three hundred different venues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, out of which the performers can choose the most suitable venue for their show. Choosing the right festival venue is one of the most important decisions to be done since the venue determines when and where the show is performed. The quality of the venues can vary from good to bad. Most of the venues are built up only for a temporary purpose as normally they might function as schools or pubs. For this reason, the services and facilities vary a lot between different venues. It is not uncommon that shows are performed in alleyways, taxis or even in swimming pools. The audience in Edinburgh is experimental and like to try out new things, therefore venues in uncommon places have lured audience as well. The biggest venues in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe are Assembly Rooms, Pleasance, Underbelly and Gilded Balloon. All of those venues have a wide range of stages in all sizes and in different locations around the city of Edinburgh. Well known theatres might attract more audience as they are usually associated with good quality shows. Bigger theatres are generally more popular, and only shows that are considered to sell a great amount of tickets make the cut to the programme. Yet, theatres have quotas for different genres including drama, comedy, and spoken word. There is no one opinion on what is the best venue at the festival. Again everything depends on the production. The more you pay the more you get, as the costs of the venues can be anywhere from £0-£10,000 per week. Nevertheless, the cost of the venue does not determine whether the show is success or not. The costs can contain everything from hiring the space to equipment costs. The payment can be based on the box office or it can be straight hire fee. The venue’s location and facilities, and 16


Chapter 2 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

the length of the performance and the performance slot affect to the price of the deal. The best time and date for the show, without question, depends on the show. It is not a good idea to perform children’s show on Saturday evening 9 PM. Using common sense in picking up the most suitable time is recommended. It is often difficult to affect to the performance slots as the venues form the programmes. Therefore, if you are planning on staging a show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, it is recommended to apply for at least three or more venues in order to find the best slot for your show. The space, dressing room and storage are usually shared between several shows in the same venue. During one day, there can be six different shows performed on the same stage. The hustle and bustle is almost tangible as the performers need to get ready in 10 minutes and pack away at the same time as the next group is preparing for their show. Sometimes a small and full venue can be better than a large, empty one. The right atmosphere is important for any show. Is your show small and intimate or big and spectacular? The show itself determines the right capacity for it. In order to find a perfect venue, it is important to know the required stage dimensions and determine the size of the desired audience. Because the festival venue can be located for instance in a pub, the technical facilities may not be on the same level than in real theatres. The lighting, sound and storage facilities might not be the same that people have used to, and the stages can come in various different sizes and shapes. For this reason not everything is possible to implement in the festival environment. Also the accessibility for disabled persons varies between venues but it is usually up to the venue to organise the accessibility. Some venues do not offer any technical staff while some venues offer full technical staff. The professionalism of the offered staff members can vary a lot, so it is good to consider whether it is best to have own technical staff during the whole festival or let the venue’s staff members to take control. Things can work out well with venue’s staff members and during the four years of the ‘From Start to Finnish’ project, all the productions have trusted the technical staff offered by the venue. The person in charge might change from day to day so do not expect the same person to work on your production over the whole festival. Making sure that you know exactly what is included, you avoid extra costs. In addition, some venues offer limited marketing and media support. The support can be very limited and the staff members who are promoting the shows 17


Chapter 2 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

are usually not motivated enough to do their best for every single show. People that are working on the production from the very beginning are often more motivated to promote their shows and therefore make a better impression to the audience.

nue? e v a find o t w Ho • Do research about the different venues and find out as much as you can. Try to find updated information! • Check out what the venue has hosted before. • Talk with people who have experiences at the target destination. • Follow venues’ application procedures. • Remember that facilities, capacities and services can vary a lot compared to what you are used to! • You might not be able to visit the venue beforehand. • Keep the venues informed about your decision making process. • Be aware of the agreements and make a contract with the venue. • Always double check that the venue can provide everything you need. • Don’t assume anything!

To read more about spaces offered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, go to edfringe.com, and use the venue search or download the Fringe Guide to Choosing a Venue in the participants’ section. The map of the venue locations can be found at https://www.edfringe.com/venues.

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Chapter 2 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

REGULATIONS Each festival has specific regulations, licences and permits which all participants are expected to comply with. The regulations may vary between venues and it is up to the visiting company to check the country and venue-specific regulations. All the shows staged in the venues are obligated to follow the regulations therefore the contracts have to be signed. Those law enforceable agreements have a great importance when money and essential responsibilities are involved. For events, such as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe that is under review, separate contracts with clients, suppliers, sponsors, venues, entertainers, and broadcasters are to be done. One of the most important matters to be handled, whether the performance is an adaptation or an original piece of work, is the copyright issue. It is the performing arts organisation’s responsibility to find out the obligations and pay the copyright fees. Additionally, all shows including any kind of music are responsible to pay fees to a music licensing company. In the UK, PRS for Music collects appropriate royalties regarding the music played or performed in the performances at the festival. When considering bringing a show to a festival, it is important to think about the audience and how they differ from the hometown audience. The audiences respond to art differently throughout the world. If the content of the show includes nudity or swear words, it is wise to set a recommended age limit to warn the audience. There are certain provisions against works that are considered to be obscene, to incite racial hatred, to provoke a breach of peace or to encourage to terrorism, and police has the authority to shut down shows including any of the ones mentioned above. In case a show includes any special requirements such as fire alarms or late performance times, these issues should be checked with the venue manager. It should be also noted that in several countries smoking is not permitted in public indoor spaces. There are no exceptions for artistic purposes, and failure to comply with the smoking ban law result to a fine. There are also laws to control using children and animals in the performances. Public liability insurances are recommended in case of an accident or injury to an audience member. There might be minor variations in regulations between countries, festivals or even venues however there are also major similarities. Religion is one matter for the 19


Chapter 2 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

differences since some religions are stricter when it comes to nudity or even female actors on stage. Commonly international festivals have similar regulations but it is always wise to check them out beforehand. To find out more about country or venue-specific regulations search information online. Usually all the venues have mentioned the regulations on their website. Internet makes it easy to look for any information needed, and people working in the venues are certainly glad to help the newcomers. Most of the venues even have information packages to help the participants.

Chec

klis

t!

• Contracts • Copyright fees • Music fees to a music licensing company • Age limits in case the show includes nudity or swear words • Checking special requirements with the venue manager • Note that smoking is not permitted in public indoor spaces • Be aware of laws to control the use of children and animals in the performances • Public liability insurances are recommended in case of an accident or injury to an audience member

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Chapter 2 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

FREE FRINGE As mentioned before, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has changed a lot over the years, and since more and more people are interested in this unique international festival, it has grown to a much bigger event. The growth of the festival always leads to changes, however not all of them are positive. Already in 1996 the performers lost thousands of pounds because of the rising rents of the performance spaces. Due to that ticket prices started to rise, the audience numbers got smaller, and even more rarely people chose to go to see shows of unfamiliar artists. The development was seen as a cycle without escape, and the original idea of the Fringe festival was disappearing. Because of the development, some people and organisations have started to organise free shows during the festival season in order to raise the spirit of the original Fringe festival. The shows are usually organised in bars. The barkeepers lend the space for the shows for free, yet they are not left empty-handed as they get money from the drinks the audience purchases. The basic idea of Free Fringe is being free for the performers and the audience however at the end of the show a voluntary payment is possible, and by giving donations for the Free Fringe organisation supports the actions. In order to participate in Free Fringe, the performers have to send normal applications to the organisation. Some of the performers, who have sold out their shows in bigger venues, support the Free Fringe by performing in free shows. In 2013 there were 360 free shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. More information about the possibilities of the Free Fringe can be found in the Internet. Visit Free Fringe homepage: http://www.freefringe.org.uk/

 

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Chapter 3 Project work

3.

Project work —

Art of communication

Project work can be sometimes challenging especially when working in a new environment with unfamiliar people. Communication can be considered as one of the major challenges in projects. If the communication is not fluent between all the parties involved, misunderstandings are likely to occur. Projects are all different based on size or type. Detailed project plan is critically important since the project success is dependent on the planning. Some people learn it the hard way. The bigger the project, the more people are usually working on it. Each person in a project team has their own role and responsibilities. In order to avoid conflicts, the responsibilities should be clearly defined. The most intense conflicts are usually within the project team, not so much with other parties involved. The project manager has to be able to resolve the conflicts. Additionally, unclear goals and purpose of the project is one reason for failure. In case the tasks of each team member and the goal of the project are not clearly defined, it causes confusion. In any project, situations can change suddenly. Therefore the project team has to be able to adjust to rapid changes, and be flexible and creative. A project team usually consists of people with complementary skills, experiences and insights. A team works well together if the members are able to listen to each other, generate innovative ideas, and sell those ideas to others working in the team. Responding co-operatively to points of views expressed by others is important and providing support and praising one another is important. In order to accomplish the overall task, a project team has to consist of diversified group of people that have different skills and knowledge. A certain level of education and experience is required however the requirements may vary widely between positions. It is obvious that ticket office salespeople, actors, and managers need to possess different qualities. In addition, an input from people 22


Chapter 3 Project work

outside the project might be needed. Based on the authors’ experiences the quality of discussion is one big reason for failing teamwork. If the discussions lead nowhere or the dominant members of the team are ruling the whole discussion without listening to others, it is challenging to come up with a solution that satisfies everyone. Overly dominant team leader is a threat for the team performance. In that case a leader gives more attention and effort to taking control rather than getting the work done. Over-control also leads to shortage of flexibility. Then people tend to use a narrow range of their skills. Sometimes people do not feel free to express their opinions therefore decisions are not done jointly by the team members. Team members must understand that they are working towards a common goal. Good communication is the key for everything. “Preen Back Yer Lugs saw a number of terse and difficult relationships make the atmosphere edgy at times, but despite all of these challenges both of the shows I was involved in were excellent pieces of theatre of which I am proud to have been involved in.” - Tom Freeman, actor in The Overcoat and Preen Back Yer Lugs!

Preen Back Yer Lugs! 2013 photo by Annemari Mäkinen

23


Chapter 3 Project work

In addition to full-time employees, in the field of culture, many people are volunteered to work in different projects. The history of volunteerism in a variety of non-profit organisations is long. The volunteers can help organisations in areas where staff resources are limited, and well-managed volunteer systems can really benefit organisations. Even though the volunteers are not paid, it is important to pay attention to their job descriptions, recruitment, and training in order to ensure their effectiveness. As volunteers are not paid in the same manner as regular staff, it is more challenging to manage them. Also there is often more tension in the working relationship between volunteers and staff. The co-operation between Ace-Production and HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences has made it possible for the ‘From Start to Finnish’ project to benefit from the help of trainees specialised in Culture Export Management. According to Johan Storgård, the director of Svenska Teatern, the challenges in ‘From Start to Finnish’ project have not disappeared over the years, but they have changed. The fact that new companies have been involved every year brings another challenge as people are not familiar with the new environment. Also cultural differences add their own challenge. Strong connections and trust between the partners have helped to face the issues. Kimmo Aulake from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, states that it has been a positive phenomenon that people at the festival remember faces. The actors, director, producer and assistants who have worked at the festival for several years have been recognised by the Fringe visitors. Especially the actors, who have been acting in the Overcoat in 2011, in Continuous Growth in 2012, and in Preen Back Yer Lugs! in 2013, have formed a tight ensemble. Previously individual Scottish actors have united as a group. ”The way how they work together is certainly unique, and really nice to watch.” – Kimmo Aulake from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture

24


Chapter 4 Product

4.

Product — between poetry

and performance

A theatre play as any other product is something that satisfies the want or need of a customer. The play can be designed to be an art-centred product and a market-centred product. Market-centred product choice can be defined as satisfying the customer. But in arts, satisfaction is not always the ultimate goal. The purpose of the arts is to broaden human experience and that does not always satisfy the customer. Therefore purely market-centred product choice argues with the concept of what the arts is all about. Due to that, high customer satisfaction is not the only objective for a performing arts organisation. If the purpose of performing arts is to satisfy all the customers, the responsibility of challenge and provoke disappears. To sum up, the artist must do what he does and hope that people like what he is doing. In the same matter, the marketer finds out what people like and then obeys that. The design of a play is extremely important when having export attentions. Already in the writing or adaptation process of the script, the number of the cast has to be designed to be small enough for the export purposes and the sets have to be designed to be transferable. At the same time the play has to give enough value to the consumer. In the case of the Festival Fringe, the performance slots are normally short and the length of the play can be from half an hour to one and a half hours. In a typical festival venue the half times are not known. The play can be exported as it is in the country of origin or some modifications to the script can be done in order to narrow down the cultural differences. Changing names and locations is an easy way to make the audience to go deeper into the play. The play is adapted to the needs of the target area, and it depends on the cultural differences of the two countries how big changes need to be done before the play is suitable to be performed in a foreign country. It is 25


Chapter 4 Product

also possible to develop a play only for export purposes. The countries’ different cultural variables and attitudes towards different issues, including politics, must be taken into consideration when making the decision of product execution. Because the products of the performing arts require an audience, organisations have to manage to bring new products to the audience. Especially in the festival such as Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the performances are at their best something new, fresh and different. It is partly the whole purpose of the festival as a trade fair to introduce new interesting pieces of art. The accessibility of the festival makes it also possible to take risks and try out something new. The best shows at the festival can benefit from good reviews and different awards. More about the reviews and awards at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe can be found later on in the Marketing chapter. In the case of ´From Start to Finnish´ project, it was previously discovered that musical productions were expensive to produce abroad since they required huge investments from the local theatre companies. This led to changes in the ´From Start to Finnish´ project. The maximum amount of actors in the production was reduced by one to six, and only the government subsidised theatres were able to apply the fund for their productions. The change made it possible to carry out more actions with less money. However, the theatres had to be committed to finance their part of the production costs as the operations could not be completely funded by the government. An external evaluator hired by the ministry made the selection of the exported plays. The evaluator made the decision from the scripts that applied for the fund. The chosen scripts were the most internationally interesting for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013. After that the ministry funded the continuing writing of the plays. Due to the interest shown by the Pleasance Theatre, the application procedure was done every year from 2011 to 2013. According to the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, the amount of applications was reasonable and because of that it was relatively easy to choose the plays for export. Kimmo Aulake states that it has been nice to notice that different theatres and city theatres have been interested in taking part the project.

26


Chapter 4 Product

“Working with a theatre company from another country was a great experience. It gave us the opportunity to work on a script unlike the writing we have here in Scotland. Although the themes were relative to us, the style of writing and culture of theatre/writing in Finland is different than in Scotland. In Finland the support the arts is given by funders gives writers the opportunity to be more experimental in their work.” - Deborah Arnott, actress in Mammoth

Mammoth is one of the plays exported to Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013 within the ‘From Start to Finnish’ project. The play was originally written by Leea Klemola, produced by Kuopio City Theatre, translated into English for the export purpose and then relocated to Scotland as a Fringe production. Mammoth was also performed by a British cast. The play is thought-provoking and challenging, and can be considered very Finnish. It represents the Finnish culture very well. Basically Mammoth is what ‘From Start to Finnish’ project is all about; exporting Finnish culture. During the festival it was seen that Mammoth fascinated the older “Fringe people” whereas some of the younger audience members where a bit abashed after the show. The play was experimental compared to many other shows in Fringe programme. As Dominic Hinde, a reviewer from the Fest magazine stated that you will struggle to find anything like this.

27


Chapter 4 Product

Another example of a ‘From Start to Finnish’ production is Preen Back Yer Lugs! which is a comedy based on Svensk Resning by Anders Slotte, Christoffer Mellgren and Tobias Zilliacus. The original version of the play was staged at Svenska Teatern in Helsinki in 2011 before it was exported to Edinburgh Fringe in 2013. The play was not a direct translation or even a typical adaptation as it experienced a major transformation in the hands of Paul F. Matthews, a Scottish writer. The play handled Scottish independence, which was a very current issue at the moment therefore the play got a lot of attention. Preen Back Yer Lugs! was directed by Aleksis Meaney who has been involved in ‘From Start to Finnish’ project for three years, and during those years successfully directed the award-winning hits The Overcoat at the Fringe 2011 and Continuous Growth in 2012. In addition to a “Fringe expert” director, also the actors — Billy Mack, Hazel Ann Crawford, Simon Macallum, Sarah McCardie, Tom Freeman and Martin Docherty — have been part of the ‘From Start to Finnish’ for several years. The same group of Scottish actors have formed a tight ensemble. “I performed in both “The Overcoat” and “Preen Back Yer Lugs!” In a personal capacity ‘From Start to Finnish’ was an excellent experience because it brought a fresh approach to Scottish theatre, and tapped into a physical, political style of theatre which Scotland had enjoyed in the 80s, but has been stifled since. To take Finnish plays and set them in Scotland was a bold creative collaboration, and should be applauded.“ - Tom Freeman, actor

28


Chapter 4 Product

How do the plays fit in the festival atmosphere? It is difficult to predict whether the show will be a success or not. Fringe favours plays that are unique and stand out from others, and each year astonishing new writings receive awards. However in case the show is too unique or even odd, the audience might not choose to go to see it. Mammoth was an example of an exceptional play that should have attracted the attention of the Fringe-goers, nevertheless it resulted to be quite the opposite. Some of the Finnish plays exported to the Fringe have been more successful than others. The Overcoat, Continuous Growth and Preen Back Yer Lugs! had the advantage of having well-known actors that attracted the audience. To read more about the ‘From Start to Finnish’ productions, visit Ace-Production’s website: http://www.ace-production.com/from-start-to-finnish/

29


Chapter 5 Financials

5.

Financials

Public funding and Copyright system are the supports of culture. In Finland the most important financier for culture and the arts is the Ministry of Education and Culture. In 2013 the share of arts and culture in the government’s budget was 434 million Euros. Between 2007 and 2011 the estimated amount used for the implementation of the Cultural Exports Programme was in total 228 million Euros. ‘From Start to Finnish’ project was financed by the budget for cultural exports. The Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture has each year given 50,000 Euros for each theatre in the ‘From Start to Finnish’ project. The fund for co-ordination has been 30,000 Euros. The money has covered the expenses of almost the entire year’s work, operations, connections and reporting. According to Tanja Ljunqvist a great amount of the fund given to theatres goes to salaries. Originally 30,000 Euros was given for writing as well. There have been also additional costs such as travelling, and receptions that are not included in the government funds. More about public funding in Finland can be found from the website of Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture: http://www.minedu.fi/OPM/?lang=en

30


Chapter 5 Financials

Coming up with a realistic budget is challenging but very important when planning on export activities. Expenses vary greatly between productions, depending on the size and genre of the show, and whether it is an amateur or professional production. Big shows with massive sets and many actors are more expensive to export and require a bigger venue. Venue costs vary between venues, but at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe they can be anywhere from £0-£10,000 per week, including hiring the space, staffing fees and equipment costs. Adding 5-10% to the total cost estimation helps to deal with any unexpected costs. It is better to overestimate expenses and underestimate revenues. Production costs are an important part of the budget, and they include equipment hire and transportation, public liability, copyright and PRS/PPL payments. In most cases, building scenery takes place in the country of origin. The investment for sets stays reasonable as the sets cannot be as massive as in the original version. After finishing the sets they are transported to the export destination. In order to save in transportation costs, several transport companies should be compared. Travelling and accommodation are very expensive during festivals and special events therefore enough money should be reserved for them. During festivals the rents tend to be much higher than they would normally be, and there is a limited amount of housing available. Therefore it is recommended to start looking for the accommodation as early as possible, at least half year before the festival starts. Edinburgh Fringe is no exception. Everything is more expensive during the festival. Edinburgh has plenty of accommodation and the prices vary depending of type of accommodation, number of people sharing it and the location. For short stays, there is a wide range of luxury hotels and cheaper hostels where to choose. However, if you are working at the festival over the month, you might want share a private apartment with your co-workers. Many Edinburgh residents choose to leave the city during the festival period so there are several spare rooms, apartments and houses rented out. Renting of apartments with two to three rooms can cost £2,000-£5,000 per month. It is recommended to budget at least £150 per person for a week. Living costs should be also counted as Edinburgh is an expensive city especially during the festival, so the food and drink costs can be high. Travelling costs of getting to and from the festival, and travelling around the city should be included in the budget. The prices of flight tickets vary a lot but early bookings are often cheaper than those done in the last minute. The 31


Chapter 5 Financials

expenses increase if travelling far to go to the festival. Depending on the export destination, it might be challenging to find straight flights from the country of origin. Edinburgh is one example of it. There are not many direct flights from Helsinki to Edinburgh. Majority of the festivals have registration fees that all the participants are expected to pay. The participants at the Edinburgh Fringe are obligated to pay for Fringe registration fees, ticket commissions, programme and web advertising to Fringe Society. Without any experience, it is difficult to estimate the amount of money that should be allocated for marketing. Press and marketing expenses include design, printing of flyers and posters, CDs/DVDs, distribution charges, publicity photos and publicist charges. Most of the first time performers at the Fringe are not familiar with the local ways of marketing as they are stepping into this sort of arena for the first time. As the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a unique environment where the competition between productions is fierce, it is important to allocate enough money and workforce for marketing activities. In ‘From Start to Finnish’ project, it was noticed that even more money could have been used for marketing. It was mentioned in the fund application that each theatre is responsible for their marketing activities at the festival but it is up to the theatre how much money they use for the marketing. The fund that theatre’s got from the ministry does not tell the total amount of money used for each production. The estimation has been that the funds cover 60 per cent of the expenses, however in reality some of the theatres have invested less than 40 per cent to the project. The experience has taught theatres to divide the fund wisely for certain expenses. The co-ordinator has helped the theatres by sharing estimates of some costs, for instance printing of the marketing material. Prices of different printing places can vary a lot so it is wise to compare different alternatives. Some costs such as ticket sales cannot be predicted precisely, and it is likely that expenses will be greater than revenue. In the contract between the performer and the venue, the box office usually splits the revenue. The performer gets the larger percentage and the venue the smaller one. It is a simple business model. Because the nature of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is more a trade fair than a place to make money, it is unlikely to make profit at the festival, and it is uncommon for performers to break even.

32


Chapter 5 Financials

If a limited amount of money is allocated for the project — as there usually is — prioritising is important. It needs to be considered which operations are most important. Prioritise! In case there is no funding available for your production, you must consider other ways to finance your export activities. Grants, private donations or sponsorships might be solutions you are looking for. All possibilities should be considered. Private donations can be collected for instance in a benefit event or from already existing networks, friends, family or co-workers. Crowd funding platforms should be also discovered. Looking for sponsorship is usually time consuming, but it is worth it, if you succeed to get funding to cover your expenses. To attract sponsors, they have to benefit from the collaboration somehow. Ticket sales is one source of income, however the ticket prices have to be reasonable in order to attract audience. By searching information about the ticket prices of previous years, it is easier to set a price for your production. If you have a good pricing model it has a direct impact to your final sales figures. Besides selling tickets, merchandise such as show programmes, manuscripts, CDs, DVDs or T-shirts are one way to make money.

al

festiv e h t at penses

l ex

Typica

• Venue • Registration fees • Production • Cargo • Administration

• Accommodation and living • Travelling • Press and marketing • VAT

Be prepared for any unexpected costs!

33


Chapter 6 Production

6.

Production

The word theatre production is anything to do with the play except acting, singing or dancing. Acting, singing and dancing are important parts of a play but combining these activities in a show requires a production process. In general the production process consists of three parts: pre-production, production period and the run. Planning and preparation is done in the pre-production phase and the time needed depends on the play itself. When planning on taking a production to an international festival as a first-timer, it lowers your stress levels if you first go to the festival as a spectator. That way you gain valuable knowledge by checking out venues, speaking to venue managers and feel the festival scene. It is not a cheap option, but will definitely be helpful. Different individuals taking part in the production start their work in different phases. A director starts to prepare the pre-production several months before the actual production as when production assistant can be hired just weeks before the show starts to run. The production period generally lasts from three to six weeks. During the production period the rehearsals start, the set is built, costumes are made and tickets are sold which makes it the most intense period of the production process. The rehearsals can be arranged in the most suitable country whether it is the country of origin or the export destination. Costs and convenience determine the most suitable rehearsing location. In the case of ‘From Start to Finnish’, some of the rehearsals have been arranged in Finland when the British actors have travelled to rehears in Finland for couple of weeks. However, most of the rehearsals over the years have taken place at the spot in Edinburgh. The rehearsal spaces have been rented from different providers based on availability and specific requirements for each production. The rehearsal spaces used in 2013 were Life Care centre and Dance Base located in the Grassmarket area in Edinburgh. The rehearsals are followed by the final phase that is known as ‘the run’. That is the phase where the production opens to the audience, plays for a while and then closes. 34


Chapter 6 Production

Svenska Teatern has taken two plays to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and Tanja Ljungqvist has acted as a producer of the plays. According to Tanja Ljungqvist, sometimes the production starts from the text and everything else is built around it. The idea of exporting the play may be there even before staging it in the country of origin. Svenska Teatern has had examples of this kind of way of making exportable theatrical pieces. When the theatre has known from the beginning that the play will go on tour or a festival, the sets have been built in a way that makes it possible to mobilise them. While reading the script it is possible to determine whether the play is exportable or understandable abroad. If it is decided that the production will be exported, one has to keep it in mind all the way, so that everything will be quicker and easier. The size of the ensemble has to be considered based on the budget. If the sets cannot be taken abroad, new sets have to be built. If the original play has huge sets and a cast of ten or more, narrowing down is challenging. The script might need changes as the number of actors gets smaller. The theatre can end up doing a nearly new production. Read more about tips for international companies attending Edinburgh Fringe from Fringe Guide to Doing A Show: https://www.edfringe.com/participants/venue-search

PRE-PRODUCTION The only fact that differentiates the typical pre-production phase from the pre-production of a theatrical piece to be exported is that everything has to be more minimalistic. The production has to be modified to suit the export destination. Size of the stage, logistics, and the time reserved to move the sets on and off stage need to be taken into account when planning the scenery. General advice is to avoid complicated and massive features unless there are enough resources for it. Depending on what is needed to acquire for the production, in some cases it is cheaper to purchase part of the sets, props and costumes in the export destination instead of transporting them from the country of origin. For a short run show, the scenery is not always reserved so it goes to trash, and rented equipment is returned to the supplied company. In addition to sets, lights and sounds have to be applied accordingly to the export destination. When it comes to theatre festivals, the light and sound systems might be different than what people are used to have in their 35


Chapter 6 Production

home country therefore it is important to check with a local technical manager or stage manager whether it is possible to arrange all the equipment needed for your show. Usually venues can provide common equipment such as lights, sound systems, smoke machines and laptops. Some venues also provide technicians to control the lights and sounds over the festival. In case the venue is not able to provide all the equipment, it should be considered whether those items are crucial for the show or could they be replaced with something else. It is possible to bring the missing equipment with the cargo or rent them from other local providers. It is important to check the connectivity! In ‘From Start to Finnish’ project some plays have required additional lights and smoke machines that they decided to bring from Finland. If it is impossible to arrange proper lights and sound equipment, it is necessary to make changes to the original play. Some smaller venues might not have moving stage lights, and sound and light tables might be different. Remember that festival environment is unique and the plays do not need to be the same as the originals. Compromises need to be done. It is important to understand that a festival environment is completely different from a typical theatre set, so do not bother your head with small issues but enjoy the chaos instead! “The most obvious and clear shortfall was a lack of stage manager of any kind. This left temporary venue staff running the show technically, and meant that props and costumes were left to the producer.” - Tom Freeman, actor

CASTING If foreign actors are used in the exported production, castings are usually arranged in the destination country. That way it is possible to reach as many local actors as possible. It would not be cost effective to arrange the castings in the country where the production is exported from. In some cases the original actors are used in the exported plays, which is more expensive of course, as then transportation and accommodation need to be arranged in the export destination country. In 2013 Ace-Production as a co-ordinator arranged the castings for all productions. The work started in the beginning of the year after receiving directions from the directors. Based on the information given by the directors, the 36


Chapter 6 Production

co-ordinator contacted Scottish agencies and arranged the rooms and schedules for the castings with several actors. As the ‘From Start to Finnish’ project had become more widely known, the interest towards the plays was more significant than previous years as nearly 100 actors casted for the three Finnish plays. The castings lasted for three days after which 14 actors were hired. The directors with a help from the producers chose the actors, and then the co-ordinator started to work on the agreements. Based on the names given by the directors, the co-ordinator contacted the agencies. The co-ordinator had worked with some of the agencies used in 2013 also during the previous three years. In addition to organising the casting and arranging actors for all three theatres, the co-ordinator was also responsible for making the work agreements with agencies, and following the agreements and payments.

LOGISTICS There are many ways to transport the sets and props from a country to another. Shows with only a few small items can consider packing them as part of their personal luggage, but it is worth to remember to check airline limits since extra baggage can be expensive. Another way of transporting the props by air is to apply for an ATA carnet. Transporting props by air might work for smaller shows, but for shows with a large set, it is more cost efficient to ship the props with a cargo company. Arranging cargo can start when the estimate of the set size is identified. Knowing the size helps the cargo companies to give more realistic price estimates. When having the size of the cargo defined, it is possible to start looking for the most suitable cargo company. It is wise to inquire the price estimation from several companies in order to find the cheapest one. If you know that other local performers are also participating in the upcoming event, you can enquire whether some aspects of your trips could be done together. It is a good way of saving costs. In 2013 Ace-Production offered to arrange logistics for all the theatres as the company had already experience on that field. A joint cargo for all the productions was cheaper and easier option. The times and dates of the cargo pick-up and return have to be clearly determined. It is not usually challenging to arrange the cargo but it can be time-consuming to find a perfect company, as well as keep contact with them and ensure 37


Chapter 6 Production

that everything is going as it should. It is important to be prepared for delays. The sets should be packed as tight as possible and in case some items are easily breakable, they should be packed with extra care. Usually it is the technical manager who takes care of the packing. It is going result to a higher cost if all items do not fit in the space informed to the cargo company. It is wise to consider whether to ship back all the sets and costumes or to leave something behind. Everything does not necessarily need to be brought back, unless they are needed in the country of origin or used for later. It might be cheaper to leave some sets behind since the disposal costs are often cheaper than the cargo. It is also possible to give dispensable stuff to local connections.

Set design

Measuring the sets Set times and dates for pick-up and return Contact several cargo companies Compare cargo prices and choose the company

Sign the contracts

Pack the sets carefully

38


Chapter 7 Marketing

7.

Marketing — Art for art’s sake or art for social meaning?

Marketing is one of the areas where failing is easy, because the conversation between the seller and the buyer is hard to forecast. Marketing is the procedure of planning the conception, pricing, promotion of ideas, goods and services to create value and satisfy individual and organisations. Customer has the central focus in marketing of the performing arts — all marketing analysis and planning starts with customers’ needs, wants, attitudes and preferences. Especially in the festival environment, new trends can pop up unpredictably. In the festival such as Edinburgh Festival Fringe the marketing is vital and the most challenging part for the participants, because the competition of the audience is fierce. The production must be branded, named and differentiated from the competitors. Keeping track on what the competitors offer is important, because it is possible to learn and at the same time differentiate from them. The success of the plays and marketing affects the mood of every individual involved in the production. At the Fringe the most used marketing communication tools are social media, PR, outdoor advertising and personal selling. The following elements must be combined in order to be more efficient. The tools are not used individually but they are wisely put together to form a consistent marketing communication plan. A proper marketing plan is wise to be completed before the concrete actions. Social media as one of the tools of marketing communication plays an important role in today’s modern marketing. Some productions have arranged launch events to promote their shows to the press and other important partners. The location of the performance must be considered in the planning phase of marketing. The variations of creative performing venues and ticket distributions concepts have been a success in many performing arts organisations. Developing a working pricing structure is part of the marketing planning. The factors that influence the prices are seat locations, timing of purchase, audience 39


Chapter 7 Marketing

members (including student and senior discounts) and special occasions (for instance premium price for opening). The major challenge for the ‘From Start to Finnish’ project has been the organisation of marketing. There have been several ways of doing it as during the pilot year a local PR-person was hired leading to an unsuccessful result, and in 2013 the public relations office did a good job in finding the press contacts. Yet, it has still been a great issue how to attract audiences. The Edinburgh Fringe audience is demanding, and it is challenging to stand out. There is still improvement needed on how to dismount at the festival. Simply, there have not been enough resources to arrange several people to do the marketing because the money reserved for marketing has been limited. There is a lot that Finnish theatres have to learn from local people.

make a o t w o H

plan? g n i t marke

1. Write a summary of your plan 2. Goals: what do you want? 3. The current situation analysis a. Company d. Collaborators b. Competitors e. “PEST” c. Customers f. “SWOT” 4. Market segmentation 5. Selected marketing strategy a. Product c. Place b. Price d. Promotion 6. Forecast of revenues and expenses 7. The conclusion and numbers

40


Chapter 7 Marketing

Marketing of Finnish theatre plays abroad? Finland as a brand might not be as well-known on global level as our neighbours. Reasons for that might be that Finland has relatively short history in comparison to others, and maybe the marketing efforts of our country have not been very successful. In recent times the exoticness has risen as a trend and on the other hand Finland can be seen as an exotic country. That is why marketing of a play as Finnish can work for other people and for others not. Fringe festival, as an open access festival, where people are looking for new experiences, the exoticness can actually work. Hopefully the Finnish brand will spread across the world and strengthen its position in the future.

MARKETING IN THE FESTIVAL ENVIRONMENT Marketing in the festival where thousands of shows are fishing the audience can be demanding. Marketing is a big part of the festival and the success of the play. Usually most of the people including actors and producers, give their emphasis to marketing in projects. In the festivals you can see some odd and crazy ways of marketing — you can find people lying on the street and begging for attention. The marketers can wear eye-catching costumes, organise games on the streets or play music and dance. The opinions of the effectiveness vary greatly. Marketers are desperate to get the attention. With limited resources the work feels unbearable. It might feel that all the arrangements to be done before the festival season starts are too much to handle. Planning your marketing and media campaign beforehand helps to reduce stress. It saves a lot of time and makes the stay at the festival more enjoyable. Personal selling is the most common way of marketing plays at the festival. It is discovered that personal contact is more effective than just distributing flyers. For personal selling it is important to choose the right place for marketing the play. A place where the majority of the festival goers spend their time is a good choice. Do not be discouraged if not all the local people are interested in what you have to offer. Personal selling with limited workforce is not enough to reach wanted amount of people. Therefore other marketing materials including posters, flyers, advertisements and merchandises are recommended. Leaving flyers to 41


Chapter 7 Marketing

public places such as cafes, bars and restaurants raise the visibility. Talk about the play succinctly and honestly, and be sure that the play is one of the best. Not all the marketing have to be done by your crew, some part of the marketing can be left to a professional distribution company. Admittedly, there is a downside to it as they might not know the show as well as the crew and the cast. Anyhow, they are trained, know the city and have access to more sites. At Edinburgh Fringe the venue marketing costs around ÂŁ400. Every show has a space in Fringe programme listing with a picture. The public, industry and media use the short summary of the show to decide what to see. The promotion picture of the show should be recognisable and able to be connected to other marketing materials. The short summary and the recognisable picture of the show are little things that are very important. The star rating from the previous years or a quote from a good review works on this too. Social media is a cheap way to market the production for a wide audience. It is important to update the accounts actively by uploading pictures, inform about the possible offers and discounts and share positive reviews. The accounts are possible to create for instance in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and in different blogs.

Preen Back Yer Lugs! Facebook page

42


Chapter 7 Marketing

It is up to the company to choose the most effective way to advertise their show. There are many ways to choose from, so cost estimates should be done. Is it better to have five people handing flyers or is a big billboard more effective? All marketing activities must be done in relation to the money that is available. Ticket offers and comp tickets attract audiences. Edinburgh Festival Fringe starts with three preview shows and tickets for those shows are cheaper than the ticket prices during the actual run of the show. Also free tickets are often handed out for previews. It helps the show to get a bigger audience in the beginning and after that the word of mouth might help. During the week the tickets are a bit cheaper than at the weekends. However, people tend to go to see shows rather at weekends as they work during the week.

e show! h t f o elling s e h t r Tips fo • Be organised • Keep the marketing clear • Have a clear and brief Media release • The show listing image with summary of your show is important • Have the press materials ready • Ticket offers attract audience • Delegate within the team

43


Chapter 7 Marketing

ng!

flyeri r o f Tips

• Have a short sales pitch • Flyer accordingly to the target audience • Flyer in pairs if possible so that you can cover both sides of the street • It is always better to talk with people than leave the flyer on the table • Distribute flyers at the door after other shows • Promote your show to other performers • Always ask permission when you are distributing flyers

Best places to distribute flyers and posters at the Edinburgh Fringe are The High Street, Fringe venues, Edinburgh city centre, Princess Street, Bristo Square, George Square, visitor attractions, cafes and restaurants, tourist information centres, hotels, bookshops, leisure centres, pubs. Always ask permission!

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Chapter 7 Marketing

Selling shows at Edinburgh Festival Fringe At first the job feels endless. There are dozens of people around you trying to sell their shows having the same attentions as you. A foreign language and difficulties to understand the local accent do not ease the work. But somehow when you start talking with people and realise that most of them are on a very good mood and interested what you are telling, the work does not feel so desperate anymore. Gradually you start to recognise people who are there for the shows and who are just passing by. Also talking with other advertisers raises the festival spirit. Local advertisers might know better how to appeal to the locals, but try to concentrate on what you are doing — Finnish shows can be advertised the Finnish way! The most important thing to remember is to keep smiling and enjoying the festival atmosphere when selling your show to someone. The mood is catching! Check out more information about selling a show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from Fringe Guide: https://www.edfringe.com/uploads/docs/participants/Fringe_ Guide_to_Selling_a_Show.pdf

MARKETING MATERIAL Marketing materials play an important role in festival marketing. They have to be designed in a way which they stand out from the competitors’ materials. When the competition is fierce the quality of the materials have to be good. It gives an impression of the quality of the show. Marketing materials should be designed to be consistent so that it helps the customers to recognise the product. The connection to the production should be obvious. For instance if it is a comedy, the poster should be consistent with the style. One way to ensure the consistency in your ad campaign is to have a creative, evocative and memorable image that ties all your marketing material together. Strong visuals are the key to successful marketing material. Usually theatres have their own graphic designers who design the posters, flyers and programmes based on the desires of the production team. Handing out flyers is the most common way to advertise shows in a festival environment. A good quality texture helps, but investing in an inordinate 45


Chapter 7 Marketing

amount of money for expensive cards is not wise as flyers are often quickly disposed. The most popular size for flyers is A5. Posters are great for attracting attention but do not have the same reach as flyers. Posters have to stand out on a wall full of other artwork. The most common sizes for posters are A3 and A2. When the competition for space gets fierce, some places refuse posters bigger than A3. Majority of venues have poster display boards. It is criminal offence to place posters on walls, waste bins, trees, streetlights, traffic signals, bridges. In Edinburgh, High Street is filled with large cylindrical towers where you can put up your posters legally. Once the festival is running you should make use of the dazzling reviews in advertising by printing out the review quotations and staple them to the flyers and posters. Festival posters and flyers must include certain information about the production such as time of the show, venue, author, director and the actors. Bright colours are commonly used to draw attention. There might be venue specific guidelines that need to be followed in designing of the marketing materials. If pictures are used, the rights for the pictures should be checked. Logos of the partners are commonly added as well. If the play contains something inappropriate for a certain age or is otherwise excluding some type of audience, it should be mentioned in the marketing materials. Age limits should be mentioned in case the play contains inappropriate language or nudity. Festivals and venues often have their own printing place, but if not, then it is wise to do competitive bidding between printing offices in order to get the best deal. After finding the cheapest or otherwise the most suitable company, it is important to follow their guidelines about size, colours and cut marks. There are minor differences between the guidelines of different printing offices. You have to know the way you are going to distribute your printing materials and how many people are distributing them in what period of time in order to decide how much you need to print. Few thousand flyers and around 300-500 posters is realistic for a month. Do not print more than you can distribute! The high-volume print run and worldwide distribution make the official Fringe Programme the most important piece of print at the Fringe. It is the most used reference for ticket buyers therefore the best-valued advertising space at the Fringe.

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Chapter 7 Marketing

Give-aways are a great way of drawing attention of people. Simple items such as stickers, badges or cards with a logo or a slogan increase the awareness. One of the ‘From Start to Finnish’ productions, Continuous Growth, had an innovative idea of having the production’s and theatre’s names printed on an umbrella. Everyone working on the production had their own umbrella, and as they walked around the rainy Scotland they advertised their show at the same time. Media release is an important part of marketing. It is a one page document sent out to journalists by email before the festival starts. The media release shortly describes what the show is about, and it includes timings, places and contact details. It is also good to have high quality images, cast biographies, a company history and previous reviews. Professional-looking photographs for the press are often needed during the run. The production pictures can be taken during the dress rehearsals or actual performance. If you want to give the audience more information about your company, actors and sponsors, a programme is one way to do it. Programmes are usually free of charge for the audience, so it is an extra expense for the company.

Fringe flyers, photo by Milka Tanskanen

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Chapter 7 Marketing

REVIEWS AND AWARDS At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, productions can get recognition in a form of awards and good reviews. It can be considered that awards and positive reviews increase the ticket sales, and in case the shows are sold out there might be extra shows arranged. Awards are given by certain organisations, and productions are reviewed by many different publications, newspapers and private persons. Favourable reviews are wanted at the Fringe. The reviews are a great advantage in marketing of the productions. Getting the show reviewed you must send lots of press packs to publishers and journalists that you think will be interested in your show. There are several kinds of sources were the production team can look for reviews. Some of the publications are credible and valued, and in the contrast some are not. Good reviews from the widely read newspapers such as The Scotsman and The Times are valuable since people consider those sources to be reliable. Reviews written by different individual festival goers might not be the wisest alternative to use in marketing. But they still boost the grapevine. If the play gets four or five stars from a highly valued reviewer it can be used in marketing of the play. However, if the play receives three or less stars, it is wiser not to mention it. It is a bit contradictory that the reviews affect the popularity of the productions so much. Of course people want to go to see good shows, but still the review is an opinion of only one person. For instance in the case of Mammoth in 2013, the play got reviews from one to five stars. For some actors the reviews are very important. If the review is good they get extra boost for the show, and if the team gets a bad review the effect can be the opposite. Some actors are not greatly affected by reviewers’ opinions and do not even read the reviews they might get.

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Chapter 7 Marketing

Sources of reviews

Independent reviewing organisations

The Scotsman The Herald

Broadway Baby

Scotland on Sunday

ThreeWeeks

Sunday Herald

Chortle

The Scottish edition of Metro

FringeReview,

The List

Fringe Guru

Fest Magazine

Festival Previews

The Guardian

iFringe

The Independent The Stage

Thousands and thousands of reviews are published every year. In 2012, Broadway Baby was the most productive reviewer by publishing over 1,900 reviews. The same year ThreeWeeks published 1,000 reviews, The Scotsman 826 and The List 480. Source: http://www.business.reachinformation.com/Edinburgh%20Festival%20Fringe.aspx

Some of London-based broadsheets such as The Guardian, The Independent and The Stage, also publish a large number of reviews. Alongside with reviews, also awards are important. They raise the awareness and most likely increase the audience numbers. Some awards are given during festivals and some after the festival. The number of awards for Fringe shows have been growing over the years. The main awards at Fringe are listed in the table on the next page. 49


Chapter 7 Marketing

Awards at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe The Scotsman 'Fringe First' awards encourage new theatre writing as they are given only to new plays or new translations. Several plays are awarded for each of the three weeks of the Fringe. The Herald Angels to creditable performers or shows are given each week of the Fringe. The Stage Awards for Acting Excellence have four categories: best actor, actress, ensemble and solo show. 'Total Theatre Awards' for excellence in the field of physical and visual theatre. The categories vary from year to year. The Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award The Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award for best drama. Only for shows that have received a four or five star rating in The Scotsman and have not been previously played in New York, as the prize is to take the show to New York. The ThreeWeeks Editors' Awards are given to the ten things that have most excited the ThreeWeeks editors. Broadway Baby ‘The Bobby’ awards are given to the best shows of the festival based on the decision by the Broadway Baby judging panel. Also ‘Technical Bobby’ award for technical achievement at the Fringe, such as lighting or set design. Musical Theatre Matters: The Edinburgh Musical Theatre Awards to encourage the writing and production of new musicals on the Fringe. The Scotsman Fringe Awards Ceremony: The Holden Street Theatres Edinburgh Award for an outstanding production. Gives the opportunity to tour in Holden Street Theatres in the following year. A few of ‘From Start to Finnish’ productions have been nominated for some of the awards mentioned above, and even received some. In 2011, Billy Mack, one of the actors in The Overcoat won The Stage Awards best actor’s prize. The following year Continuous Growth received The Scotsman’s prestigious ‘Fringe First’ for new theatre writing. The same year Alexander West from My Elevator Days was nominated for The Stage Awards best solo performer, and in 2013 Deborah Arnott from Mammoth was nominated for the Best Actress 2013. 50


Chapter 8 During the Festival Fringe

8.

During the festival

Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a hectic working environment and the stress level can occasionally rise up high. The period of time reserved for rehearsals in the city and for other preparations is very short. Everyone has to be prepared to work long days as everything needs to be ready before the festival starts. After the premieres are behind, the show usually starts to run on its own weight, but at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe the work continues in a form of marketing the plays. You cannot just enjoy the fruits of the whole production process, the work continues on the streets over the whole festival until the last show has finished. The most important thing to remember is to be on time in the right place and on good mood. While working as production assistants we got a chance to experience the festival throughout. The diversity of the given tasks made our days interesting. The real festival spirit was almost tangible on the streets. Daily routines involved mainly flyering and assisting the shows. Nevertheless, we were also given tasks from designing the marketing materials to organising the reception events. Working in the foreign country in international atmosphere added its own challenge. Taking care of tasks and solving problems can be more challenging in a foreign country during the busiest time of the festival. Fortunately both of us had previous experience working in international environment. Typically Finnish people assume that everything runs smoothly without any bigger obstacles. However, things might not go the way as expected during the festival season in Edinburgh. Good nerves are needed. It is very important to have positive attitude towards changes, and keep up the good spirit among the production team.

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Chapter 8 During the Festival Fringe

Day as a production assistant 8-9AM Breakfast time, look for new positive reviews from the Internet and prepare the quotes from the reviews for printing 10AM Print the new review quote slides, cut and staple them

to the flyers

11AM Hang the posters around the city centre and promote

the shows before the shows start

12PM Get ready for the shows and hand out the programmes

to the audience

1-3PM Lunch time, give out flyers and assist the shows 4PM

Hang posters around the city centre and promote the plays

5PM

Possibility to go to see other shows and to promote own plays

7PM

Dinner time and look for new reviews

8PM Prepare the flyers for the next day 10PM Preparations for the next day 11PM Free time 12PM Good night!

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Last words Edinburgh Festival Fringe is an unique event. There are hundreds of breathtaking shows that can change your life. An international atmosphere and everyone working towards a common goal is priceless. At the festival, people were impressed about the fact that Finnish government supports the theatre export in a way that ‘From Start to Finnish’ does. It is something unique and it fascinates people as they have their doubts about governments being involved. The improvement ideas regarding ‘From Start to Finnish’ project have been mainly concerning marketing activities. The marketing responsibility was not clearly divided, and the lack of marketing strategy has been a problem regarding the project. Nevertheless, marketing of the shows has surely not been the only problem for the Finnish organisations at the Fringe. Johan Storgård, the director of Svenska Teatern, is convinced that the experience has taught how challenging marketing can be at the world’s biggest arts festival, and not only marketing of the production is enough but if the texts want to be sold, there should be more resources and knowledge for it. Each year has taught something new and made it possible to improve the operations. It can be seen that the brand of ‘From Start to Finnish’ has developed. The experience the Finnish theatres have gained from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe does not change the world but it somehow affects the people in Finland. According to Katri Santtila from the Ministry of Education and Culture, the amount of export activities of Finnish theatre has increased a lot during the past few years. It would be nice if the ‘From Start to Finnish’ brand would not disappear, because building the brand has required huge efforts. Government funded export projects have mainly concerned theatrical and dance performances, however Katri Santtila and Kimmo Aulake believe that circus is going to follow soon. It is wished from the field that the operational territory would expand in the future.

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Writing this handbook has been a very educational experience and we hope that people find the book useful and helpful, and that it will encourage them to export their pieces of art. From the authors point of view the experiences gained during the festival have been priceless. We want to thank everyone involved in the project; the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, Ace-Production, Finnish theatres, Pleasance Theatre, and the actors. It has been a privilege to be able to take part in the project and work for the recognition of Finnish culture.

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GLOSSARY An open access art festival = welcomes anyone with a show, exhibition or cultural event to register and be part of an arts event Cargo = transporting of goods Casting = selecting actors for a performance Co-ordinator = Organises others’ activities Copyright = The holder’s exclusive legal right to artistic, literary or musical materials Flyer = Also called leaflet, a paper advertisement Fringe theatre = theatre that is not mainstream Handbook = a collection of instructions Market segmentation = dividing a market to small segments who have same needs, wants or demands PEST= an analysis about political and legal, economic, social and cultural and technological environments PR company = a company that manages information between the company and public Props = items needed in a show Sets = scenery on stage SWOT = an analysis about company’s internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats The Fringe Programme = the official, printed guide of the events at the Fringe VAT = Value added tax, a service tax added to payments Venue = the space where a show is performed that can be a building, room or any other space

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BIBLIOGRAPHY Ace-Production: http://www.ace-production.com/ Culture Export Management: http://cultureexportmanagement.wordpress. com/ Edinburgh Festival Fringe: https://www.edfringe.com/ Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture: http://www.minedu.fi/OPM/?lang=en HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences: http://www.haaga-helia.fi/ Hytti, J. 2005. Teatterituottajan opas. Like. Helsinki. Interviews with Anthony Alderson (22.8.2013), Johan Storg책rd (17.9.2013), Kimmo Aulake and Katri Santtila (26.9.2013) and Tanja Ljungqvist (3.10.2013) and quotes and comments from the actors Powering Up Finnish Cultural Exports.PDF. Ministry of Education Svenska Teatern: http://www.svenskateatern.fi/fi/etusivu/ The Fringe Guide to Doing a Show: https://www.edfringe.com/uploads/docs/ participants/Fringe_guide_to_doing_a_show_2014.pdf The text is partly based on the literature reviews in the thesis report.

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'From Start to Finnish': Handbook for exporting a theatre play  

This handbook is created to function as a tool for people working in the field of culture for exporting theatrical pieces. It aims to descri...

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