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Play Pieces

Thank you Play Pieces for keeping Theatre alive in the Highlands and Islands. Loved the blending of English and Gaelic, helped understanding, singing was fabulous, loved the atmosphere. My partner has a brain injury. He gets tired and his concentration is sometimes compromised. He loves the theatre, good ale, a chat and a chance to talk with like-minded others to extend his knowledge base and social skills. The short format is perfect and an ideal time of day for both of us. People with disabilities would welcome the opportunity to access theatre in this way - serious but bite sized chunks of real participation and enjoyment. Having moved from Glasgow and a Play, Pie and a Pint it was great to find something similar in the Highlands. Play Pieces concept provides a fantastic possibility that does not exist anywhere else in the area. The Highlands can be a bit of a cultural desert so it's wonderful that Play Pieces are doing their thing. Stay with us! As a promoting group on the Isle of Skye we are really impressed by this project and fully support any work for it to continue and develop. We would really like to join in and enable this concept to be spread across the Highlands and Islands. Great intense performance. It makes a multilingual performance feel more accessible.


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OUR KEY OBJECTIVES FOR THE NEXT THREE YEARS: • Secure core funding to enable a strong team to deliver projects and generate funds • Develop innovative, high-quality work which explores artistic boundaries • Support emerging Theatre Makers in all rural regions • Expand into new rural areas and communities, in partnership with Promoters, Creative Industries, Third Sector organisations and Theatre Makers • Seek platforms for the newly created work and promote the ‘world-class’ standard to international audiences 2

Play Pieces Arts is an energetic not-for-profit social enterprise, which stimulates and empowers talented new writers and performers, providing a platform to present their work to wider audiences throughout the North of Scotland. Expanding on our original concept of Saturday lunchtime drama presentations, offering many unaccustomed to theatre-going a chance to grab a hot pie and see a play in Inverness, we have extended our reach with productions and collaborations, including the Wee Theatre Festival, at venues across the region. Already our track record over the past five years has been acclaimed by the doyenne of the Scottish theatre scene, Joyce McMillan, as marking “one of the strongest signs of a cultural shift in progress”, and now the Play Pieces Arts initiative is setting bold strategic goals to develop our role as a focus of independent, contemporary rural theatre and a springboard for dramatic talent in the whole region. The Highlands and Islands form a vast area, larger than Wales and almost the size of Belgium. Its small population has grown by 10% over the past decade to 232,950 and is forecast to continue growing. The challenge to reach out to a dispersed rural population and offer new cultural opportunities is one Play Pieces Arts aims to address. To achieve this, a stable financial foundation needs to be established to enable our innovative founder, creative director Lindsay Dunbar, to increase and consolidate her own professional commitment, engage the support of a consultant producer to further develop a consistently high-quality series of talent development and productions over a three-year programme up to 2020, enhancing the level of support from Play Pieces Arts voluntary Board of directors. This requires a budgetary plan to bring in nearly £300,000 over the three-year cycle, and given tight economic constraints, the Play Pieces Arts financial strategy minimises its expectations from public funding sources, with over half the revenue targeted to come from income generation. Play Pieces Arts is a unique and innovative enterprise deserving of support from broad sections of the wider community to help bring new levels of cultural opportunity and experience to rural Theatre Makers and audiences.




INTRODUCTION Play Pieces Arts Ltd (PPA) grew out of a remarkable lunchtime theatre programme established by Lindsay Dunbar and was formed as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee in 2013 to provide new contemporary writing for theatre in the Highlands, accessible to everyone, for Theatre Makers and audience members alike. As rural theatre innovators we believe that everyone, no matter wherever they are in the Highlands and Islands, should have the opportunity to be involved in the creative process. We support emerging artists to create quality work that explores contemporary themes facing everyone in the UK, not just in rural regions, demonstrating that geography is no barrier to social engagement and awareness of the world at large. We engage with our audiences by ensuring our work is seen in central locations, accessible by public transport and priced affordably. Currently based in Inverness, but without a permanent performance or office space, Play Pieces is planning to locate to the new city centre, WASP-led Creative Industries Hub at the now unused UHI Campus at Midmills by Autumn 2017. This would allow us to increase our visibility, benefit from networking opportunities with other Creative Industries as well as have a flexible space in which to run workshops, events and rehearsal space, thereby strengthening our sustainability. As part of our forward thinking, we plan to attract increased funding from diverse sources to allow relocation, to increase the role of the Creative Director to four days per week, increase the capacity of the Board, and work with a freelance producer to ensure the quality and consistency of all productions in 2017 - 2020. This focus on core jobs creation is central to the sustainability of the organisation as well as creating up to 18 professional opportunities annually for Theatre Makers across the region to ensure the cultural sector is developing.

“one of the strongest signs of a cultural shift in progress”

Play Pieces Arts' current activity includes the Lunchtime Season which the company is best known for, heralded by critic Joyce McMillan in The Scotsman “as one of the most significant cultural shifts” in Scottish Theatre in 2016. In 2011 Creative Director Lindsay Dunbar identified through market research that audiences live rurally and travel into Inverness and other towns during the day, therefore gaining audiences for new work was found to be challenging. However, when work was presented at lunchtime, audiences had accessible performances and artists had access to new audiences. Play Pieces Lunchtime Theatre was a critical and box office success and has innovated rural theatre production.

Joyce McMillan

Calum Beaton performing "The Flagititious Imposter". The Wee Theatre Festival 2016, Isle of Skye. Photo: Mattius Kremer.



BACKGROUND Play Pieces was originally established in 2011 by Creative Director Lindsay Dunbar and from then until 2013 quickly gained momentum in Inverness through the first 6-month lunchtime season at the Ironworks. Due to the success of the project, Play Pieces Arts Ltd was formed in 2013. This was followed by a 7-month season in Inverness and finally expanding into Elgin creating 12 dates by 2014, selling out in both venues for the entire season. A season of plays has been presented for four out of the last five years in partnership with local promoters within rural communities.

Play Pieces In 2015 with support from Highland Council, we also produced the Wee Theatre Festival, a festival of new writing and performance in conjunction with Open Doors Day, which presented six 15-minute site-specific works. Written and performed by local artists, the performances brought the sites around rural Inverness-shire to life, enthralling audiences and delighting the Site Trusts. All the performances were also presented in Inverness in the evening. This model was repeated on the Isle of Skye in 2016, combining four site-specific performances across the Island and working with communities to ensure success. The desire for audiences to have world-class diverse performances on their doorstep has become evident through this festival of theatre and looks to evolve in 2017 into finding new ways to bring rural heritage and design to life through theatre. In partnership with the Playwrights' Studio we have run successful development workshops for Highland-based artists to support the initial phase of script writing. The fact that these workshops were oversubscribed demonstrates evidence of the unmet need to support talent development.

The creation of new Scottish theatre is rare outside the Central Belt, however our efforts have brought 14 new contemporary productions to rural areas, 11 of which were commissions, which is a significant contribution to the area's cultural landscape. We provide small scale, short form but nonetheless professional opportunities for rural Theatre Makers. Audiences and creatives benefit from the small, intimate venues that facilitate informality and openness during the post-show discussions, encouraging audiences to give honest and invaluable feedback.

We have developed strong professional relationships with the Playwrights' Studio, Scotland, Federation of Scottish Theatre, The Touring Network, Creative Scotland's Producers Hub, Horsecross Theatre, Eden Court Theatre, Comar as well as Highlands and Islands Enterprise. It is with their support that we will continue to be responsive to the needs of the creative environment in rural areas and strive to become a key Creative Industry. As a result, we will be the innovators of rural theatre. 6

We believe the success to Play Pieces Arts work is our Place Marketing, Place-making and Investing in people. Place Marketing makes rural venues a desirable destination for cultural events. Place-making allows us to use rural communities and locations as our creative hubs of talent. Investing in people develops the professional quality of the sector as well as nurturing the emerging talent. Creating jobs and new markets for work. These elements contribute to the new Rural Economy of the Highlands and Islands. 7

Play Pieces Arts Ltd seeks to build upon our core activities of the Lunchtime Season and the Wee Theatre Festival and will seek to strengthen our core finance, our trading income, develop our team and Board in order to grow the sustainability of the company and continue to provide much a needed cultural offering to audiences and Theatre Makers in rural areas. After four successful Lunchtime Seasons and two Wee Theatre Festivals, over the next three years we aim to develop and enhance contemporary theatre-making with cultural talent development workshops, more audience engagement at earlier stages and partnerships with other theatre producers.

2011 Lunchtime Theatre Season launches in the Ironworks, Inverness. 2012 Play Pieces launches “Shorts” in Ig:lu, Inverness.

2013 Play Pieces Presents: four theatre performances including children’s theatre and theatre performance for dogs in a park. 2013 Lunchtime Theatre Season returns with seven performances in The Spectrum, Inverness. 2013 “Shorts” in The Village, Inverness.

2015 Play Pieces holds the Wee Theatre Festival in association with Doors Open Day in Inverness-shire. 2014/15 Lunchtime Theatre Season in Inverness and Elgin, 12 SOLD OUT performances.

2016 The Wee Theatre Festival goes to Isle of Skye. 2016 Launch of “Curated Nights”. Four evenings of rehearsed readings across Highland region. 2016/17 Lunchtime Theatre Season returns, expanding into three new areas.


YEAR ONE 2017-18 Will focus on Talent Development, supporting emerging artists through workshops led by industry professionals, helping them maximise the market potential and audiences for their work. The Wee Theatre Festival will take place in partnership with a Heritage site in rural Highland.

YEAR TWO 2018-19 The newly devised work will be showcased in the Lunchtime Theatre season while new emerging writers/artists will go through the Talent Development programme. The Wee Theatre Festival will take place in partnership with young people as part of the Year of Young People.

YEAR THREE 2019-20 Will repeat the previous year, showcasing work and developing a third echelon of emerging artists. Throughout each year, audiences will be encouraged to view the work and give feedback on it. The Wee Theatre Festival will continue to be a responsive celebration of new writing with new partners.

To ensure we continue to develop talent in rural regions, Play Pieces Arts' primary focus will be on areas from which artistic applications for the lunchtime season have not yet been submitted - Skye & Lochalsh, Caithness, Sutherland, Argyll, Badenoch and Highland Perthshire. These regions will receive our support in Year 1 and act as venues in Year 2. During Year 1 we will work in partnership with organisations such as Comar (Mull), Plan B (Evanton), Wireless and The Touring Network as well as Horsecross Arts and Playwrights' Studio Scotland to nurture playwrights, actors, directors and producers through talent development workshops. We will show work in progress across rural areas via our Curated Nights programme, engaging with the public who will feed into the creative process. Through regular events we will build a strong core audiences as well as develop new audiences of theatre, particularly focusing on a younger demographic. We will create part-time work in all of these areas to help promote and run these events, training workers in Event and Technical Management. We will recruit a Producer to ensure quality and consistency for all Play Pieces productions and we will train an individual to take over the responsibilities of the current Creative Director so by year 3 there is a sustainable handover plan in place to ensure the on-going success and vision of the company. 9



Our vision is to see high quality-theatre produced in rural areas, suitable for rural venues and rural audiences, but of a world-class standard, ready to be performed on any stage. Our ambition is to inspire emerging Theatre Makers to be active in rural areas to create work by providing opportunities for new theatre writing where none previously existed, creating innovative rural theatre activity, rebalancing the historic focus of Scotland’s cultural activity and funding in the central belt, creating a fairer, more balanced range of opportunities across Scotland.


The mission of Play Pieces Arts is to nurture new talent within rural regions by creating a unique platform for their work. In doing so we also engage with new audiences by embracing venues that are not traditionally used for theatre - village hall, pubs, shops, art galleries as well as train stations, churches and mausoleums, which have all been used in the past. We also encourage new collaborations between emerging rural artists with established Theatre Makers embedded in the Scottish theatre sector.


Play Pieces Art's key aims are aligned with Creative Scotland's ambitions and can be broken down into the SMART objectives required for delivery. Terry Langdale and Innes Anderson performing "Steam for Life" by Carrie-Anne Wilde. The Wee Theatre Festival 2015, Aviemore. Photo: Mattius Kremer







To develop innovative, high-quality work which explores artistic boundaries

Excellence and experimentation across the arts, screen and creative industries is recognised and valued

1.1 Develop talent through Industry-led workshops 1.2 Encourage more collaborative approaches to working with industry professionals 1.3 Secure a Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland nomination by yr 3

Creative Director Producer

To support emerging Theatre Makers in all rural regions and encourage their creativity and foster confidence in their aspirations in creating new theatre work

Places and quality of life are transformed through imagination, ambition and an understanding of the potential of creativity

2.1 Identify 6 rural areas to create residential workshop or production opportunities where work is not currently being created 2.2 Explore skills and CDP opportunities for writers, actors and directors in rural areas establishing support where needed 2.3 Create a Rural Theatre Development Fund to support small CPD opportunities or membership to wider networks for new companies or artists

Creative Director Producer Board

To expand into new rural areas and communities, in partnership with Promoters, Creative Industries, Third Sector organisations and Theatre Makers to bring accessible new theatre to rural audiences

Everyone can access and enjoy artistic and creative experiences

3.1 Promote opportunities for rural promoters through The Touring Network Gathering and Federation of Scottish Theatre Industry events to expand network of venues annually 3.2 Audience development with third sector organisations to make performances accessible with evaluation process 3.3 Establish rural theatre production networks for peer to peer support and mentoring outwith PPA activities to ensure on-going CPD

Creative Director Board Key partners such as local promoters, The Touring Network, HIE, NEAT, Playwrights' Studio, Third Sector organisations

Develop sustainable business model to enable a strong team to deliver regular projects and generate income

Ideas are brought to life by a diverse, skilled and connected leadership and workforce

4.1 Secure core funding by March 2017 for Year 1 4.2 Secure long-term sponsor for Lunchtime Season, for up to 3 years 4.3 Increased promotion of Pals membership scheme and secure a Professional Industry Patron to advocate the work of Play Pieces Arts

Creative Director Board

Seek platforms for the newly created work and promote the ‘world-class’ standard to international audiences

Scotland is a distinctive creative nation connected to the world

5.1 Promote tour-ready productions at Rural Theatre exhibition/showcases in Scotland and England such as Ed Fringe Industry, FST Emporium and NRTF New Directions 5.2 Attend European Theatre Convention to represent and advocate the work in rural areas 5.3 Join IETM to be part of over 500 members across 50 countries and find opportunities for rural theatre

Creative Director Producer Board





We will achieve our vision by adopting the following strategy and principles: Lunchtime Theatre Season • •

To see increased quality productions year after year which go on to tour (1.1, 5.1) To keep venues, performance times and prices accessible to all (4.1)

To move away from dependency on Public Funding to a sustainable business model (4.1, 4.2, 4.3)

Wee Theatre Festival

Curated Nights •

Self-financing model for rural engagement throughout the year (2.3, 3.3)

Workshops •

Partnerships with organisations such as Moniack Mhor Writing Centre and Playwrights' Studio, Scotland as well as utilising professionals from outwith the region to expand our advocacy in the central belt (1.2, 2.2, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3)

INCOME GENERATION As a social enterprise we aim to generate at least 50% of our income through sales and revenue. By year 3, through our plans for extending into more rural areas, building audiences as well as developing strategic partnerships with other arts organisations, advertising deals as well as sponsorship we believe this is achievable. We do not want to be dependent on public funding. However, the nature of theatre is such that it is generally more expensive to produce than can be generated through box office as there is an economy of scale to consider. Our ongoing to aim is to keep costs within industry regulations, but be realistic and always seek to promote the best of Highland culture. 16

Advertising is currently a great untapped potential. With a season brochure produced every year, being distributed across the Highlands as well as central Scotland for 8 months of the year, there is potentially £3000 worth of income to be made in half page adverts alone. This is incredible value for money and, if we were able to demonstrate the benefits of advertising with us, by year 3 it would be possible to increase this income to £6000.


Use a different regions location every year, working with key partners (2.1, 3.1, 3.3) Engage Local artists to create original site-specific performances (2.1, 3.1) Support emerging artists to gain professional development support to ensure quality (1.2, 2.2, 3.3)


• • •

We established a “Play Pieces Pals” membership scheme to generate unrestricted funds for the company. Currently there are two levels of “Pal” at £25 annually or a “Patron” for £100. These offer a variety of benefits and so far have raised income levels appreciably. All artists and companies are contracted to deliver a production for a development fee. In future, following industry practice, we will retain intellectual property rights in any work commissioned by or created for Play Pieces. An agreed percentage of all income from future performances and versions would be payable to Play Pieces, thus generating income which will be reinvested to create and support more work.

Finance •

In 2018 we will increase our Lunchtime ticket prices from £10 to £12 - still tremendous value for money as audiences now get a drink and a pie included in the ticket price, whereas the first two seasons did not have this offer. This is a potential rise in box office takings of 20%. The long-term ambition is to double the number of performances which will result in income surpassing the expenditure of the productions for the first time.

We would like to be much less dependent on Public Funding to ensure the future of the company as we are taking a sustainable, business approach to the opportunities we can offer partners such as advertising and sponsorship. However the cost of producing theatrical work is higher than possible revenues from box office income alone, especially in year 1. In order to build our audiences and maximise income potential through advertising, sponsorships and box office income, we will be dependent on an amount of public funding. We aim to reduce this by year 3 and operate the Lunchtime Seasons and the Wee Theatre Festival through commercially generated income.

Sponsorship provides an exciting opportunity for an inspirational business to collaborate with us. While sponsorship in the past has included local bakers to provide the pies and local breweries to provide the drink we would like to secure a Sponsor to take ownership of the Season, to create a branded Lunchtime Season just for them (such as Baxter’s Marathon or T in the Park). This would be an innovative long-term partnership which would be mutually beneficial and ensure both companies were associated with the best of contemporary Highland art and culture, engaging with audiences in rural areas as well as young people who are the future markets for not only theatre but industry.


Analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

STRENGTHS Original lunchtime theatre in Highlands Promoting Rural Theatre only Convenient timing of shows Regular core audience Audience interaction Combined offer of ticket & lunch in price Convenient central venues High-quality, contemporary drama Welcomes & reacts to feedback Makes theatre accessible Made in rural areas for a wider audience Director has strong connections

Potential Reach 2017-2020 Current Audience

OPPORTUNITIES Sponsorship opportunity Engage with hard-to-reach, vulnerable groups Free events for the public Site-specific events Online streaming of performances Exploring further education and schools Working with businesses to convey social or environmental messages Longterm partnerships Increased regularity Merchandise Exploring visual arts, dance and music

Only once a month, 6 months a year Tight turnaround for companies Prices too low Administrative costs exceed income Exhaust-ability of Director Competition from other theatres in Scotland Other events – sports, festivals, music No Key sponsor No core funding makes planning ahead difficult


Similar projects by other theatre providers in Scotland Lack of support from public sector Weather Connectivity in rural areas Funding with partnerships withdrawn Audience numbers decrease High expenditure/low sales Bad review affecting reputation Bad food affecting reputation Reduced box office takings





“One of the most communitylinking, audience-developing, venue-building and exciting projects in Scotland.” Duncan MacInnes

MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE, REPORTING AND SUCCESSION PLANNING Lindsay Dunbar is the freelance Creative Director and founder of Play Pieces Arts. It is through her drive and tenacity that the organisation has grown from a sole-trader to a company limited by guarantee, soon to be charity. She recruited the Board of Directors with skills to ensure every need of the organisation was covered within the team and allow her to have support when needed, as well as forming sub-groups for projects. Lindsay works closely with the Board and uses an online project management tool to provide immediate updates and communication. The Board meet every 3 months to discuss and plan ahead for the next quarter. Once core funding is in place, meetings can become more frequent to lead the long-term strategy. Currently the Board has not undertaken any formal Board training, although everyone on the Board has many years of experience. However, with core funding in place, the organisation is keen to become members of Arts & Business Scotland to take advantage of the training available to them. Current Board members skills include: • • • • • • •

Finance and business management Consultancy and Government report writing Arts project delivery Communications and marketing Teaching and workshop development IT and Rural/Urban Planning Arts and regeneration

We also invite key associate Board members for specific tasks, such as specific applications for European funding to oo-production support from someone with more than 20 years' professional industry experience. Over the years, the role of the Creative Director has been evolving and now involves specific responsibilities demarcated from a Producer role which is now needed to ensure quality and consistency across the work that Play Pieces Arts creates. This provides clarity for future recruitment into the organisation for these two posts - posts that will be adequately supported through core funding. It is feasible that a Producer role would be suitable preparation for the Creative Director role, training a new Producer to succeed them or by year 2 have a new Creative Director waiting in the wings, being mentored by the current one. Jack Jenkins performing "The Witch Project". The Wee Theatre Festival 2015, Kirkhill. Photo: Mattius Kremer





Play Pieces Arts currently operates with: • • • •

Gaelic Policy Audience Development Plan Equal Opportunities Policy Environmental Policy

These are available through our website. As we do not work directly with young children or vulnerable adults currently we will be working on a new policy to reflect our ambitions to work with these groups should funding be secured.

PARTNERSHIP WORKING Play Pieces Arts has endeavoured to ensure that we are working with key strategic creative industry partners to raise the profile of theatre productions in rural areas, as well as encouraging artists working with us gain CPD which will ensure increased quality year after year. We also are dedicated to supporting social enterprises working with hard-toreach or vulnerable adults. Through our partnerships with them we are addressing issues of loneliness and social isolation, which is affecting many people living in rural areas.

As Rural Theatre Innovators, technology will play a crucial role in how we make theatre accessible. Utilising live streaming means we can access audiences from around with world. Working with established TV, film, media and video production company Inner Ear, we are exploring options for donation-based views of the Lunchtime Theatre Season and the Wee Theatre Festival. As well as opening up new audiences the potential for sponsorship and advertising revenue is greatly increased. Social Media has also been a powerful tool in raising the profile of Play Pieces as well as engaging with new artists. We are keen to explore the use of the “Live” function for performances, workshops and discussions to ensure that a rural theatre performance is accessible to anyone in the world. A new project, working title #snapchattheatre, is being developed to find ways to encourage young people to create theatre and share it online through social media channels which would be an innovative way of producing theatre as well as engage a new generation of Theatre Makers and audiences. This project will start in 2017 and evolve to take the Wee Theatre Festival online in 2018, curated by young people as part of the Year of Young People.

Partners we are currently talking to about future delivery include: • • • • • • • •


Playwrights' Studio, Scotland Moniack Mhor Writing Centre Comar Perth Theatre Federation of Scottish Theatre Befrienders Highland Alzheimers Scotland Generations Working Together






Play Pieces Lunchtime Theatre Season is an innovation. Created five years ago, it was the first lunchtime theatre serving the Highlands and therefore is the market leader. It has now reached 100% capacity, growing from 67%; however it has taken 3 years to build up to this level and now the venues need to develop in order to sell more tickets. Play Pieces Arts’ undifferentiated marketing mix covers all segments - an approach which caters for existing customers but does not appear to reach or motivate the younger generation, often referred to as Millennials, who are adept with digital and online technology.

• • • • • • • •

DEVELOPING NEW AUDIENCES Appealing to Millennials is pertinent to Play Pieces’s vision and business objectives as well as potential market growth in years to come. The Highlands is a huge area with a small population. Travel is an issue for customers. Working with Third Sector organisations and particularly charities we can develop new ways to make theatre accessible to audiences suffering from social isolation and loneliness. Working with Alzheimer Scotland will allow us to create an environment suitable for families attending with friend or family member affected dementia. We can also ensure that the venues we use are accessible to all physical abilities and explore theatre productions which engage other hard-to-reach audience members. Social media is easy to monitor and efforts can focus on below-the-line activity. However traditional media and print promotions remain a successful way to engage older audience members in rural areas. All marketing elements must provide consistent messages to effectively position Play Pieces Arts' brand in customers' minds. The four C's approach is more in keeping with Play Pieces Arts social purpose as it embraces the customers' needs above the marketing needs. These are: • • • •


• •

Increased audience capacities from 66% in 2013/14 to 100% in 2014/15 Increased geographical spread of audience by 10% 63 play applications submitted for 27 lunchtime slots Strengthened relationships with A Play, A Pie & A Pint, Inverness College, The Touring Network and Playwrights Studio Scotland Creation of 7 new companies New creative partnerships such as Andy Cannon, Wee Stories (Edinburgh) with Bob Pegg (Strathpeffer) Selling out the season finale a month in advance Supported emerging artist Emma Anderson from Tomatin who is now Engagement Artist at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre Promoted Hallaig, a Gaelic Theatre production, to develop a new audience for Gaelic theatre which was a huge success with 92% of the audience saying they wanted to find out more about Gaelic language and culture as a result The total population of the Highlands is slightly over half that of Edinburgh, and around a third of Glasgow's. Elgin's population is 5.5% that of Edinburgh; to equate a sold out audience of 45 at the Drouthy Cobbler, an Edinburgh theatre would have to sell over 800 tickets (the Lyceum seats 658). To achieve the equivalent of Play Pieces' projected Highland audience of 1500 across the season, an Edinburgh promoter would need to sell 250,000 tickets

To achieve the equivalent of Play Pieces' projected Highland audience of 1500 across the season, an Edinburgh promoter would need to sell 250,000 tickets.

Customer Solutions: Accessible quality cultural event Customer Cost: Value for money and supports local economy Convenience: Local venue, during the day, only an hour long Communications: Post-show discussion, feedback forms, via social media and newsletter








107,217 9,255

89,495 76,885

78,978 97,825

Funding & Grants Total Own Income Total

£ £

Percentage Funded Percentage Own Income Percentage Increase Year on Year

% % %

92.1 7.9 -

53.8 46.2 38.3

44.7 55.3 9.1

Total Percentage Increase since Year 2018-2019





A full breakdown of our 3 year budget is available on request and contains a detailed breakdown project by project with explanatory notes for each costing. These figures summarise the cost of running Play Pieces Arts Ltd as well as the two core projects - the Lunchtime Season and Wee Theatre Festival. The Wee Theatre Festival is currently planned for 2017, with a break planned in 2018 to concentrate on the new Lunchtime Season launch. The significance of the income shift demonstrates our ambition to move away from public funding and increase our income generation to 50%. However, investment is still needed in year 1 to enable us to achieve this.

*While the annual budget increases our reliance on public funding decreased,




Public Funding Sponsorship & Advertising Pals, Funding & Donations Project Management Income Online Streaming Box Office Workshop Income Co-Production Agreement Box Office Promoter "Buy In"

£ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £

107,217 4,000 500 3,600 0 350 0 805 o

89,495 6,000 1,000 5,400 1,000 350 32,535 21,600 9,000

78,978 15,000 1,500 7,200 2,000 350 32,535 30,240 9,000










Staffing General Lunchtime Season Artists Lunchtime Season Production Wee Theatre Festival Artists Wee Theatre Festival Production Technical/Digital Contingency

£ £ £ £ £ £ £ £

40,713 12,412 31,752 10,349 3,580 12,112 500 5,054

40,713 9,833 63,663 41,060 0 0 4,048 7,063

40,713 12,983 63,663 47,900 0 0 4,048 7,496






increasing our self-generated income by 47% due to the investment in Year 2018-2019





ACHIEVEMENTS OF PLAY PIECES ALUMNI Emma Anderson has participated in three lunchtime theatre seasons, creating Working Holiday with SkinnyDip Theatre, The Beautiful House with Gunshow Theatre in collaboration with Wildbird which went on to tour rural venues, and finally The Gamekeeper with Gunshow Theatre, the company Play Pieces Arts inspired her to establish. Emma continues to stage a lot of her work in the North although now based in Edinburgh. She is currently the Engagement Artist for The Kings and Festival Theatres in Edinburgh. Phil Baarda established Mangonel Theatre as a result of Play Pieces support and aims to present exciting new theatre that entertains and inspires audiences, and be a springboard for emerging writers and actors. Collaboration and skills sharing is at the heart of the company. They have enjoyed several successes with Play Pieces Shorts and the lunchtime programme (Gerry and the Glasshouse – August 2013, and The Rhum Plants – Sept 2014). The Rhum Plants performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015 for a full run at Sweet venue on the Grassmarket, followed by a short tour of the Highlands and Islands. Phil has received mentoring support from Sandy Thomson of Poorboy Theatre and Douglas Maxwell through the Playwrights Studio, Scotland. John Burns proposed Mallory: Beyond Everest for the Lunchtime Theatre Season and before it featured in the third season it was presented to audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe, receiving 4 star reviews, which raised the profile of the work before finally being seen in the Highlands for the first time. As a result of the sell-out performance at Play Pieces it was booked for Eden Court Theatre, the first Play Pieces performance to be programmed in the largest theatre in Scotland. Since then John has taken his innovative rural theatre production to Kendal Mountain Festival and Findhorn Bay Arts Festival. Nicholas Ralph took part in the first-ever Play Pieces Shorts in 2012 before attending the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow, after which he performed alongside Siobhan Redmond in National Theatre of Scotland’s Dunsinane Scottish tour in 2013. Returning to the Lunchtime Season with Gerry and the Glasshouse in 2013, he then performed in the Eden Court and Play Pieces Co-Production for NTS Five Minute Theatre in 2014 before returning to the Lunchtime Theatre season again with his own theatre company Northern Heights with Beyond the Trenches. He is very much a talent to watch. Andrew Rothney is most recently known for his performance in The James Plays by National Theatre of Scotland. In 2013 he performed with Skraelings Theatre Company’s The Sea Between Us and was due to return to the season in 2016 (lack of funding meant this season did not proceed). He would have been a notable addition to the creative team.


“When Play Pieces first started I thought it was too good to be true. You had the freedom to create a production, to pick your team, to perform in spaces outwith a theatre setting and it had a budget for you to manage and therefore to be paid. Play Pieces took chances on long-time professionals and graduates, it included anyone and it was down simply to your idea and execution of your project. This allowed many new thirsty and passionate creatives that very crucial first step into professional work.” Emma Anderson “The Lunchtime Theatre Season… was ground-breaking and proved that there is an audience outside of conventional venues and has led lot of people to experimenting with different places to perform.” John Burns 29

BOARD MEMBERS CVs Jennifer MacRae (Chair) is a native of Inverness and a graduate of RCS. Her first play was critiqued by The Scotsman as a highlight of the West End Festival when it was performed in Bar Brel, Ashton Lane, Glasgow in 2005. Since returning to her home town, she has been a champion of the arts in the Highlands and graduated with a first class honours degree in Culture Studies of the Highlands & Islands from UHI while continuing to develop her playwriting and directing skills in her local community. Jennifer brings years of experience as an actor and teacher of drama to the role of Chair on the Play Pieces Board of Directors. Isla O'Reilly (Treasurer) lives and works on her family's organic farm and is co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party. With a background in the medical device industry she now teaches pilates. Her three children attend Bun-Sgoil Ghaidhlig Inbhir Nis and she has been involved in local amateur dramatic productions as well. David Newman has been a member of dance/theatre company plan B Board for six years and currently holds the position of Vice Chair. However, his day job centres around managing Plexus Media, a web software development company based in Cromarty near Inverness. He has sat on various arts-based organisation Boards including the Cromarty Film Festival and Inverness Old Town Art. In his spare time he enjoys writing short stories and plays. Katyana Kozikowska is the Creative Manager for Eden Court Theatre, responsible for Eden Court’s Creative Learning programme in-house and across the Highland region. Katyana also develops and delivers Eden Court Creative’s events programme, and creative consultancy for the business sector. She trained in TV, Film and Theatre studies at Arts International, York, and previously worked as the Eden Court Theatre Arts Worker for Skye and Lochalsh for 8 years, developing the theatre arts within the community. Neville Rigby is an international strategy consultant, NGO advocate, specialist in health policy, campaigner, journalist and author with more than 20 widely-cited papers to his name. He is a former director of policy and public affairs at the International Obesity Task Force and coordinates the International Obesity Forum. A champion of the arts with a passion for great theatre, he has worked behind the scenes with theatre companies for more than two decades. Ilona Munro is the founder of Bright Productions, a performance based company in Lochaber working with a great team of associates, who have a range of creative skills both live and studio based. She is experienced in education, entertainment, radio and theatre productions. Current partnerships include Abbeyfield Care Home, Mental Health work in schools and Creative PE Pilot Project with Highland Council. Bright Productions staged Fort William’s first ever outdoor panto and have been part of training through role play. In 2017 the company will be premiering three new shows: Lament: The Massacre of Glencoe, The Recovery Version (Edinburgh Fringe) and Scrooge, and will also be touring an intergenerational show that was part of the Luminate Festival: Wan Fur The Weans.

STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT Dear Lindsay Thank you for sharing, with HIE, Play Pieces’ future plans to evolve the current delivery model for providing community theatre - aiming to expand the reach of theatre productions into new communities, whilst simultaneously generating company business growth through contracting with new venues to provide theatre-going activities. As you’re aware and discussed, HIE fully recognises community-based cultural activities as significantly contributing to Scotland’s Economic strategy – in particular culture activities, such as community theatre, increase the attractiveness of our communities to residents, visitors and investors. As well as supporting wider social and economic benefits such as growing community confidence, and creating local jobs etc. Collectively these benefits support the conditions for population growth, which in turn lead to enhancing the resilience of our local communities – particularly in the region’s very remote and rural areas. I wish you every success in taking forward the new delivery model proposed, and please do keep me up-to-date as to how it progresses. As discussed, once you reach the stage of implementing the new model, and have a clearer idea of the potential growth projections, then get back in touch and I’ll action a referral to our Inner Moray Firth Area Team for Play Pieces to be considered for account management support. Should you have any queries in respect of the above then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I look forward to hearing back from you in due course. Kind regards, Ann Marie Reid Senior Social Cultural Enterprise Manager Highlands & Islands Enterprise Play Pieces has given an opportunity for aspiring Highland-based Theatre Makers and playwrights to have their work seen by an audience. Over a similar time period Eden Court has also started to produce work and our aim is to support artists who either live in, or are from the Highlands. The work of Play Pieces and Eden Court are complimentary as both organisations are dedicated to increasing production capacity in the area and making it possible for people from the Highlands to have a career pathway which does not, necessarily, involve leaving the area. However, on the whole Play Pieces is working with a cohort of talent who are not yet established enough to benefit from a full production and in that sense there is little prospect of duplication. Eden Court has been able to offer some support to Play Pieces through the provision of rehearsal space and will continue to support in that manner. We will also work closely with Play Pieces to look for joint development opportunities – including the future promotion or development of successful Play Pieces projects. Colin Marr, Eden Court Theatre



“We are programming a significant amount of daytime theatre activity on Mull this summer. We already have some scheduled workshops and performance events at both Mull Theatre and An Tobar. It's a bit of a departure for us, but one we're keen on exploring. We would love to have the benefit of your experience in this area of programming to help us. We are committed to supporting professional new writing for theatre and in particular that with a connection to the Highlands and Islands, so this is clearly an area in which there is much of mutual interest and benefit. We commission at least one new play script each year from a wide range of writers and we would love to have an ongoing connection to an organisation which has been doing so much to support and develop new writing in the region. We are keen to learn from you and to support you and your writers. This being so, we would welcome the opportunity to host the Play Pieces lunchtime season. Looking further ahead, we have had several co-productions and co-commissions with Oran Mor/A Play, A Pie and a Pint which has enabled the work originally produced at the Glasgow venue to have a longer life and to be seen by audiences across Scotland. We believe there is much to be gained by all parties if Comar/Mull Theatre was to have some sort of similar relationship with Play Pieces, particularly given our experience in touring throughout the Highlands and Islands.” Alasdair McCrone Comar SEALL is delighted to offer support for the expansion of Play Pieces to rural venues in the Highlands. We have seen this project grow in Inverness and have been hopeful to be able to make links on Skye. We understand this is to be a pilot project in new venues on a monthly basis. We believe this to be a model project in widening the reach of quality theatre; creating opportunities for new partnerships across the Highlands; and sharing skills between those partners. This would fit very well with our own aims and aspirations of: • Developing new daytime audiences, particularly those who cannot easily attend evening events because of night-time lack of public transport, evening driving in the dark, age or other family issues. • Developing links with other Highland theatre providers and venues. • Creating a sense unity across a wide area in theatrical development and marketing. • Learning and sharing with others over a short period about new ways to extend audiences. • Building on this in our wider programming in the future. Our own programming funding ceases at the end of October and this would be outwith our current funding remit. Any future funding applications from SEALL would be to build on this project, not duplicate funding for it. Duncan MacInnes Director SEALL 32

You are a cultural oasis in a very arid region. The experience of going to a Play Pieces play, and the 'liveness' that happens there, may ignite an interest in theatre that can only be a tremendous cultural benefit to the Highlands and beyond. I feel it's great how this has gone from strength to strength and it has also been instrumental in bringing Highland Theatre practitioners, who would normally be working with each other, together. It is extremely important to have an outlet locally for writers, actors and directors to experiment, show new work, get direct feedback from the audience in an informal atmosphere. There is no one else doing this in the area and there needs to be more support for nurturing theatrical talent on and off stage. Makes me want to know more about the culture that I don’t already know and I am a fluent Gaelic speaker. Show was great but also really enjoyed the post-show chat and the pie! Please can we have more, it was super! An inexpensive way to showcase new talent in accessible surroundings...let there be many more, brava! Great to have the opportunity to attend theatre during the day. You need bigger venues. Most of the shows I wanted to see were sold out. Chord e rum gu mòr. AUDIENCE FEEDBACK

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Play pieces business plan 2017 2020  

Play pieces business plan 2017 2020