Page 1



October 2012

Train to gain How theatres are investing in the future of theatremakers and supporting young people

Plus: training, advice, opinion


Issue 65 | October 2012

04 | News 09 | Going places Prompt speaks to Michael Ockwell about his new role at The Mayflower.

Welcome …to the October issue of Prompt magazine. This month marks an important date for the TMA as we look forward to the annual Theatre Awards UK. As we prepare to celebrate some of the UK’s most outstanding achievements over the last year, I spoke to the TMA’s Clare Ollerhead about the exciting changes the awards have undergone and offered a taste of what Members can expect later this month when we gather at the historic Guildhall. This issue also explores some of the initiatives taking place across the country to help both encourage a love of theatre in younger audiences and train the theatremakers of tomorrow. From the Lyric Hammersmith’s forthcoming capital project to Belgrade Theatre’s award-winning creative apprenticeship scheme, there are a wealth of innovative training programmes taking place at TMA theatres to be celebrated and inspired by. We’re also pleased to be able to bring you more information about our everincreasing training and events programme, a review of this summer’s industry day to discuss the legacy of A Night Less Ordinary and an introduction to returning TMA Council member Dan Bates. We hope you enjoy the issue. Julian Bird Chief Executive

Train to gain 11 | Shenton says Mark Shenton looks at the importance of communicating better with audiences on and offstage. 12 | Planning capital gains Jo Caird talks to the Lyric Hammersmith about its ambitious capital project and how it is planning to inspire young people through its doors. 17 |Smells like teen (entrepreneurial) spirit Mark Fisher looks at a selection of training opportunities TMA theatres are offering young people looking to gain skills offstage. 22 | Autism Inspiration Day – one year on Charlotte Marshall talks to TMA’s Access Manager Kirsty Hoyle about the progress that has been made following last year’s Autism Inspiration Day. 25 | Course to success Kate Stanbury speaks to Training and Development Manager Wade Choudhuri about the TMA’s growing training and events programme.

TMA events & training 28 | Event A review of the industry day to discuss the legacy of A Night Less Ordinary. 29 | Forward Thinking Sarah Gee offers Prompt a sneak preview into the essentials of fundraising ahead of her training session next month. 31 | Meet & Greet Prompt meets new TMA Council member Dan Bates 32 | Theatre Awards UK A preview ahead of this month’s awards and the full list of nominees. 34 | Sounding Board Three former Theatre Employee/Manager Of The Year Award winners offer advice on how best to establish a vision for your organisation 36 | Research David Brownlee analyses the theatrical north/south divide. 38 | Calendar Your at-a-glance guide to forthcoming events and training courses

Editor: Charlotte Marshall | Design: SOLT digital team | Cover photo by Pamela Raith | Contributors: Dan Bates, David Brownlee, Jo Caird, Mark Fisher, Sarah Gee, Donna Munday, Michael Ockwell, Clare Ollerhead, Mark Shenton, Mark Skipper, Kate Stanbury, John Titcombe Prompt is brought to you by the Theatrical Management Association, 32 Rose Street, London WC2E 9ET. Tel: 020 7557 6700. President: Rachel Tackley. Chief Executive: Julian Bird. General Manager: David Brownlee. Prompt is printed by John Good, Progress Way, Binley, Coventry CV3 2NT. To advertise in Prompt please contact Viv Plumpton on 01993 777726. All views expressed in Prompt are not necessarily those of the TMA or its members. The inclusion of advertising material in Prompt does not imply any form of endorsement by the TMA.

TMA NEWS Equity ‘Invest for Success’ at TUC demonstration


quity will join forces with other TUC unions later this month for mass demonstrations in London, Glasgow and Belfast to call on the government to reassess its controversial and radical cuts to arts funding.

Christine Payne

Marching on 20 October under the banner of ‘A Future That Works’, Equity’s General Secretary Christine Payne explained the importance of the event, saying: “Public investment is vital for our industry, one of the UK’s great international success stories, without it the nation will be poorer in talent, creativity and the economic benefits our business bestows.” Last year’s TUC March for the Alternative, which included speeches from Equity members Samuel West and Tony Robinson, attracted 500,000 people to the London demonstration with Equity hoping for an equally impressive turnout for 2012. This year’s London event will see members march through central London to Hyde Park, where the demonstration will conclude with a rally.

2011’s TUC rally | Photo: Andrew Wiard

Talking to Prompt, Malcolm Sinclair, actor and President of Equity, seconded Payne’s sentiments, saying: “Equity members will be marching under the slogan ‘Invest for Success’. Plays such as The History Boys, War Horse and Jerusalem, and films like The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire, might not have been made at all without public funding, let alone become the internationally celebrated successes they are, bringing in huge earnings for the UK.” For more information about the marches and details of how to get involved, visit Equity’s website.

Samuel West talking at an Equity event



Lyric competes with Olympic Stadium


elfast’s Lyric Theatre is one of just six buildings across the UK to have made the prestigious Stirling Prize shortlist for 2012. The winner of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) prize will be announced on 13 October, with the theatre in excellent company, competing against the likes of the Olympic Stadium.

The Lyric Theatre | Photo: Photo Dennis Gilbert

The Lyric Theatre’s new building, which was designed by architectural firm O’Donnell and Tuomey, opened last May and has subsequently won a string of architectural prizes. Tuomey explained the prestige of the nomination, saying: “The RIBA awards mean a lot to architects because the judges visit every shortlisted building. The award reflects functional and material reality rather than photographic representation and it confers the approval of your peers.”

Rep launches centenary website


s part of Birmingham Rep’s 100 birthday celebrations, the venue has launched REP100, a programme designed to commemorate the theatre’s incredible heritage with specially commissioned activities including exhibitions, guided tours and talks. Alongside the project the theatre is launching, a website which will open up more than 3,000 records from the archive – including photos, letters and documents – for public view. The website’s aim is to tell the stories of everyone who has made the theatre what it is today, from writers to directors, set-builders to critics. The theatre’s General Manager Trina Jones explained the purpose of the website, saying: “Our archives are of local, national and international importance and so the new online digital archive will allow people across the globe to learn about theatre history, Birmingham and British culture.”

Bristol Old Vic reveals refurbishment


ristol Old Vic, the oldest working theatre in the country, has reopened following an 18-month refurbishment. Rescued from bankruptcy four years ago, the theatre has now been given a new lease of life equipped as an intimate 21st century venue inspired by its original 18th century design.

Bristol OLd Vic | Photo: Philip Vile

Improvements include the addition of two new rehearsal rooms to accommodate the theatre’s Outreach and Bristol Ferment programmes, redesigned backstage areas and offices, and a reconfigured seating plan to increase capacity and improve sightlines. Tom Morris, Artistic Director of the venue, said, “This theatre is renowned as the most beautiful playhouse in the country: it’s intimate, steeped in history, yet beautifully flexible to the processes of 21st century theatremakers. Throughout, this refurbishment has felt like a thrilling opportunity, and also a tremendous responsibility.”



Award-winning theatre safety product launched


echnical Stage Services Ltd has announced its award-winning EdgeSafe, a revolutionary piece of safety equipment, will be added to its expanding portfolio of products for the theatre and events industry.

Technical Stage Services Limited’s Daniel Dawson

The winner of the Product of the Year 2011 Award, Edge Safe helps to improve the safety of working on and off the stage by greatly reducing the chance of equipment, crew and performers falling from the stage edge. Speaking about the product, the judges explained their decision, saying “Edge-Safe can make a significant contribution to safety in theatres by providing a low profile barrier to stop wheeled items like flight cases and Tallescopes falling from the front edge of the stage as well as protecting Performers and Crew.” Edge-Safe will be exclusively sold and distributed in the UK and Ireland by Technical Stage Services Ltd.

Everyone for the Everyman


arlier this year the Liverpool Everyman Theatre launched a new fundraising initiative called Everyone For The Everyman, inviting anyone passionate about the theatre to get involved in helping to create its future.

Executive Director Deborah Aydon

Since the launch the staff has got the project off to an inspiring start with Executive Director Deborah Aydon jumping out of a plane at 10,000ft in a bid to raise £2,000. Other feats so far have included nine Everyman and Playhouse staff tackling the Three Peaks Challenge, raising more than £3,000, and more than £2,000 was raised when six members of staff abseiled down Liverpool Cathedral. The Everyone for the Everyman appeal will raise funds towards the remaining amount needed to complete its £28m new building and create a fund to nurture a new generation of Liverpool artists.

Defending artistic freedom of expression in the UK


ndex on Censorship’s conference ‘Defending artistic freedom of expression in the UK’ will be held on Tuesday 29 January at the Southbank Centre. Hosted by Jude Kelly, key speakers will include Sir Hugh Orde (President of Association of Chief Police Officers), Professor Mona Siddiqui (Edinburgh University), Moira Sinclair (ACE) and Sally Tallant (Liverpool Biennial).

Jude Kelly at a previous Index event


This major conference will bring together senior arts managers and policy makers to debate the social, political and legal challenges to artistic freedom of expression. Key debates will ask how the cultural sector balances artists’ rights with the expectations of funders, public authorities and public opinion and how to defend the boundaries of free expression across the arts in the UK, on the international stage and online. To find out more, email


Ride out to the New Wolsey


ast month’s New Wolsey Theatre production Mods And Rox saw the venue undertake a unique audience development strategy to draw in patrons. Working closely with scooter clubs from across its eastern region – from the Sudbury Scooter Club in Colchester to the Clacton Scooter Collective – they encouraged and organised ‘ride outs’ to watch the show.

Photo: Mike Kwasniak

As an added incentive, the venue presented a scooter display on 15 September to run alongside the show with 100 scooters on the theatre’s forecourt, while the Lambretta GP150 and Vespa Rally 200 loaned to the production were on display at the theatre for the entire run.

Oldham Coliseum re-opens after going Out and About


he Oldham Coliseum re-opens this month following its closure in January for essential refurbishment. While the theatre doors may have been shut, the venue continued to programme productions spending almost eight months of this year undertaking the Out and About season, a varied programme of work staged in different settings.

The Hound Of The Baskervilles at Lawrence Batley Theatre | Photo: Andrew Billington

From The Grange Arts Centre, Oldham Colleague and the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle Under Lyme, the Oldham Coliseum took work to other arts spaces, as well as embracing less conventional spaces with a site specific production at Earl Mill, which involved audiences travelling around a space in a train carriage, and a production of Star-Cross’d in the city’s Alexandra Park.

YMT makes West End debut


or the first time in its history, Youth Music Theatre will co-produce a West End production with Loserville The Musical opening at the Garrick Theatre later this month. Originally commissioned and workshopped by the company, West Yorkshire Playhouse staged the Elliot Davis and James Bourne-penned musical this summer to critical acclaim before the production announced its London transfer in August. While this marks the first co-producing West End credit for Youth Music Theatre, it has an impressive history as the UK’s leading national music theatre company for young people aged 11 to 21. With alumni including Ed Sheeran and Lauren Samuels, the group reaches up to an estimated 2,000 a year to help create new musical work and give every participant a unique and valuable experience.



Michael Ockwell Next month Belfast’s Grand Opera House’s Michael Ockwell will take over from Dennis Hall’s 26 tenure as Chief Executive at The Mayflower. Ahead of his new position, Ockwell reflects on his career to date and looks at what is in store for The Mayflower’s future. What was your first big break?

What does it mean to you to be joining The Mayflower?

As an actor joining the Royal Shakespeare Company straight from drama school in 1993 – a great opportunity and I carried my sword with great style for a year!

It is an enormous privilege to be responsible for one of the major theatres in the UK. I am conscious that I will be only the second person to lead the organisation, so I feel a great sense of pleasure and excitement.

When I made the decision to move into theatre management I was very lucky to join Stoll Moss Theatres as Assistant House Manager at the Gielgud Theatre in 1997. I worked for two years in the West End, including as House Manager at the London Palladium, and got a great grounding in commercial theatre.

What are your immediate plans in your new post? To look at what we do really well and to build on the strengths of the theatre and the team, and to look at our role within the community and to assess the impact of our outreach work.

What are your immediate plans in your new post?

What’s been your best career move so far?

Be yourself and you will have a ball!

Taking the job in Belfast – the Grand Opera House is the premier theatre in Northern Ireland and the staff are the most loyal, committed and passionate team that I have ever worked with. I don’t think I would have been in a position to move to Southampton without the experiences I have had in Belfast.

What attracted you to the position?

Best learning experience to date?

What will be your biggest challenge?

Helping to develop HQ Theatres into the second biggest theatre operator in the company taught me a lot about how to operate commercially within a variety of regional venues.

Moving my entire family (plus the cat) from Belfast to Southampton and to find schools and a team for my footballmad boys.

Biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome?

What are you most looking forward to?

I have worked with some very talented people who have ensured that any problem has a potential solution before it gets to my desk.

Developing the education and outreach work of the theatre to support the programme, and to introduce the next generation of performers and theatregoers to the wonders of live theatre. Also, welcoming Julian Clary to The Mayflower for pantomime this year.

Who has influenced you most? Stuart Griffiths, Chief Executive at Birmingham Hippodrome. I was fortunate to work as his General Manager at Wycombe Swan. That gave me the opportunity to learn how to programme a regional theatre and I greatly admire his vision but most importantly his integrity. He also taught me that you should never be afraid to walk away from a deal if it isn’t right for the theatre.

The opportunity to join one of the UK’s most successful regional theatres, to present the very best touring productions and to work with some amazing producers.

Michael Ockwell’s Prime Picks: Most useful website Most useful website:

What are you most proud of?

Must-read publication

My family. I am very lucky to have a wonderful wife whose selflessness allows me to do a job I love with all the long hours the responsibility brings. I am also very proud to have the opportunity to follow Dennis [Hall] in the Mayflower.

The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People

What piece of advice do you live by? ‘To thine own self be true’.

Always listen to/watch: BBC Radio 5 live/Match of the Day

Can’t be without: A book – I am an avid reader.


Train to gain Over the next 18 pages Prompt looks at how TMA theatres are training the next generation of theatremakers, what progress has been made following last year’s Autism Inspiration Day and the new training opportunities TMA has to offer Members.







New connections Theatre is a broad church and all should be welcomed, Mark Shenton tells Prompt as he looks at the importance of reaching out to audiences and offering initiatives that engage with audiences on and offstage. again exceeded all previous records. In times of depression, audiences need the theatre more, not less, and it’s seen as an affordable luxury. Charles Spencer, writing an end-ofyear report to 2011 in the Daily Telegraph, said that one producer told him, “You might think twice about taking your family on a luxury holiday, but an outing to a hit musical seems both possible and permissible.”

Mark Shenton | Photo: Dan Wooller

There’s no more important mission in the theatre than to reach out to audiences and constantly find and embrace new ones. “Art is pointless without an audience,” Soho Theatre’s Artistic Director Steve Marmion recently told The Guardian. “Unless it’s a two-way process and you make work with your audience in mind, it is just an act of masturbation.” But it’s not just that the work onstage that has to engage with the audience; theatres also have to engage with them offstage, too, to maintain, build and expand on relationships with existing audiences, as well as constantly find and embrace new ones. Without that kind of investment, in terms of both money and time, theatre will stagnate and die; without an audience to play to, there’s no point doing it. Nothing, of course, can be taken for granted. The world – and everyone’s lives within it – is changing constantly, but there’s hardly been a bigger period of change in recent history than the last 20 years have brought and wrought, from global economic meltdown, the more extreme acts of terrorism like 9/11 and the London 7/7 bombings, and the very real threats of advancing climate change that is causing a different kind of meltdown entirely. But people also need a break from all the doom and gloom. And theatre has always been there to provide it: no wonder that, despite the dire economic conditions, attendances at the West End last year yet

But theatres also face more challenges than ever before in terms of competition for that audiences’ time, money and attention. This summer, for instance, there was the unprecedented challenge of the Olympics, and even without the sport, there’s the endless lure of the internet and social media, which connects people without having to leave the house. But, as Spencer once again wrote, “People like the communality of theatre going, the sense of being part of a shared experience.” Theatres are, to a greater or lesser extent, catching on to the opportunity, rather than the threat, that the changes in media are providing, and growing not just their websites (a one-sided offering that only provides a shop window for the work they do) but also their interactive possibilities. Audience engagement is a buzzword that’s about reaching them and talking with them, not just at them. That’s created the biggest challenge to the PR and marketing offices, but theatres are also increasingly drawing in audiences – and theatremakers – with offstage opportunities like Leicester’s Curve Young Arts Entrepreneurs scheme and Coventry’s Belgrade Creative Apprentice programme, both of which are explored in a feature in this issue. There are also plenty of new writing and youth theatre programmes around too, and the Lyric Hammersmith is planning to build an extension to house its growing educational work. These aren’t just altruistic acts but a vital pathway to ensure that the theatre remains relevant and alive for the next generation. And an important part of the message is the method by which it is conveyed. That’s

why theatres are having to embrace the new digital possibilities as never before: on the one hand, it’s cheaper (there’s no postage costs to pay) and can be more directly targeted to the particular consumer, but on the other, there’s a lot more ‘white noise’ to struggle to be heard against on the internet. That’s why, alongside offering unparalleled learning opportunities for theatres to educate their audiences, they also need to seize the opportunity to learn from their audiences, too. A technologically savvy audience is one that can be engaged with long before they reach the theatre. There are multiple points of entry and arrival now for a potential audience member: via a website; via a tweet; via a Facebook page; via a trailer on YouTube. And it’s important to be able to capitalise on the interest that’s been registered, not squander it, by leading the potential audience on a journey that leads towards buying a ticket, but isn’t a hard-sell that suggests that is all it is about. Theatres that interact with their audience at every stage of a visit, from the box office to arriving at the theatre, seeing the show and then after they’ve seen the show, will not only be seen to rolling out the welcome carpet, but looking towards keeping it stain-free. Younger audiences understand this new kind of communication better than ever, and they’re the ones that are the audiences of the future. But audiences come in all shapes, sizes, races and disabilities, and the theatre should be seeking them all out. Theatre access initiatives to offer performances that are sign-language interpreted for deaf patrons or audio-described for blind theatregoers are long established, though there could always be more; some theatres have also recently been experimenting with Autism-friendly performances. That’s all to the good; theatre is a broad church, and all should be welcomed. Mark Shenton is theatre critic of the Sunday Express and writes a daily blog for The Stage ( shenton) for whom he also writes regular reviews and features. He is also London correspondent for He is chairman of the drama section of the Critics’ Circle. You can follow him on Twitter @ShentonStage.



Planning capital gains Jo Caird talks to the Lyric Hammersmith about its ambitious capital project that will see the theatre extend onto the roof of a shopping centre and inspire more young people through its already bustling doors. “Before you do a capital project you think, ‘oh, it can’t be that hard’.” When Jessica Hepburn took up the role of Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive of the Lyric Hammersmith six years ago she “inherited the idea” of extending the theatre onto the roof of the shopping centre next door as a means of expanding the organisation’s work with young people. Costing £16.5 million, it is far and away the most significant capital project the west London venue has embarked on since 1979, when the 1895 Frank Matcham playhouse was reconstructed on the site following its demolition to make way for redevelopment of the area. Hepburn has been amazed at how complex the process has been from the very start of the capital development project. Not only are the Executive and her team developing on a site they do not own – the Lyric has a long lease on its premises but does not own its building – they have had to deal with all the issues surrounding development in a city centre where space is at a premium. Added to this, a year ago the building changed hands, meaning a whole new set of negotiations for the theatre’s senior management team. Hepburn also describes the complexities surrounding the fact that the Lyric is sustained by a number of different revenue streams, including the Arts Council, Hammersmith and Fulham Council, trusts and foundations, and private donors. “Keeping all those people motivated and believing in the vision has been really challenging,” she says.


Hepburn and I are sitting in the Executive’s corner office on the fifth floor of the theatre, a rather cramped room that overlooks Lyric Square to the east and King Street to the south. With us is Adam Coleman, who joined the team in 2009 to assist with the initial fundraising for the Lyric’s extension plans and now heads up young people’s strategy at the theatre. The Lyric has had enormous success in recent years, winning Olivier Awards for Spring Awakening in 2009 and Blasted in 2011, seeing Ghost Stories transfer to the West End in 2010 and creating a stir with Simon Stephens’ ambitious trilingual drama Three Kingdoms in spring 2012. Yet the theatre’s professional achievements are only half the picture, explains Hepburn: “We are a producing theatre committed to making exciting, extraordinary, contemporary theatre of the highest quality, but our work with children and young people is absolutely integral to our artistic vision. It sits side-by-side and feeds into the professional work that we do on stage. And that’s at every level.” Coleman leads an extensive programme for children and young people, including the theatre’s youth theatre, the Lyric Young Company, work with the education sector, targeted projects involving vulnerable young people, and schemes seeking to bridge the gap from training to employment in the creative industries. The building, notes Coleman with pride, is “in constant use by young people”, whether that’s


“Keeping all those people motivated and believing in the vision has been really challenging.”

Jessica Hepburn and Adam Coleman | Photo: Rowan Mead

11 to 19-year-olds doing a Making the Band workshop or young people not in education, training or employment working towards a performance over the theatre’s sixweek START programme with the aim of helping them to re-engage with learning. The capital development project, which Hepburn and her team hope will be completed by spring 2014 (they plan to start work this autumn), will extend the Lyric’s existing facilities for children and young people with the addition of a recording studio and editing suite, dance and drama studios, scenic workshop, cinema, ‘digital playspace’, wardrobe workshop and costume store, practice rooms, green room and props store. It will also allow the Lyric to embrace new partnerships with other arts organisations and organisations working with young people. “Partnership working is a massive plan for the future, which we just don’t have the capacity to do at the moment,” says Hepburn.

She gives the examples of Rambert Dance Company and Albert & Friends Instant Circus, who work with young people at the Lyric to deliver dance and circus skills training. This type of scheme will be extended when the project is complete, and the theatre is in discussions with groups such as Hammersmith and Fulham Action for Disability about taking up residency in the building to provide youth projects in-house, which will hopefully then feed young people into the Lyric’s own programmes. The initial plan for the capital development project made it sound like a more or less separate entity that would stand alongside the original building to deliver the Lyric’s young people’s programmes. It soon became clear to the team, however, that such an approach failed to capture the ethos that makes the theatre’s youth offering so unique. “We really realised early on that we weren’t building this ‘teaching theatre’ as it was described in the early days – it

13 Lyric Hammersmith | Photo: Phillip Meech

Members of the Lyric Young Company | Photo: Helen Maybanks

“We treat our project like we’re building our own home.” was [that] we were expanding the Lyric. If you ask people what they love about the Lyric, it’s because it doesn’t feel like a school, it doesn’t feel like a youth theatre, it feels grownup, it feels professional,” explains Hepburn. When the extension is complete, all the organisation’s activities will be run across the entire building. This will have a positive influence on not just the young people who use the theatre, but on its staff and audiences too. The administrative offices, which are currently squeezed into nooks and crannies throughout the building, several of them encroaching upon sacred front-of-house space, will be consolidated into a semi-open plan area across a foyer from some practice rooms and the digital playspace. The project, Hepburn says, “is about the expansion and development of our work dealing with young people, but it is also crucially about making this a 21st century organisation for the next generation”.


Preparing an organisation for the future, however, is not without its challenges. The world is a very different place than it was when the project was first dreamt up six and a half years ago. Hepburn describes how the first tranche of funding secured for the plan was tied to a proposed new qualification that was promptly scrapped when the coalition came to power. Unperturbed, the team found a way to maintain that money by changing tack and refocusing its efforts on the new government’s agenda. Coleman believes that the “entrepreneurial spirit” fostered by Hepburn and Sean Holmes, the Lyric’s Artistic Director since 2009, has been integral to the smooth progress of the capital development project through the change of government, economic crisis and the new funding landscape. “We are a responsive organisation and always looking at ‘does this need to shift?’, ‘does this need to change?’ And that dynamic way of working really does flood throughout the organisation. Nothing is static,” he says. Periodically engaging the young people themselves is a route the team has found helpful in terms of keeping up momentum on the project. “Because the capital project can be very clunky, bringing it back to reality feels really important and whenever we’ve involved young people in


that, that’s been a real breath of fresh air,” explains Coleman. Surveying users and potential users – whether formally or informally – should be part of any capital development project, but you could argue that it’s even more crucial where young people are concerned. Hepburn is aware of the danger here: “Capital projects are run by adults and often people who’ve been working in the profession for years and years and so often they get it completely wrong about what young people want.” While adaptability and a pragmatic approach are essential to such a process, so too is not losing sight of a project’s ultimate aim. Before any planning even begins, says Hepburn, an organisation must have a very clear idea of what it’s attempting to achieve and why. It’s about “really interrogating internally why you’re doing this thing; what it’s going to bring to the organisation in the long term. Then when you’ve really interrogated that, getting the right people around you”. The number of people involved in large-scale projects such as this can be daunting, but it’s important to take your time over assembling a strong team. “Building buildings is not

our day job,” says Hepburn. “Most of us do it once and never do it again because it’s such a challenge and that is a real issue”. Helping the Lyric to navigate the many complex relationships that make up the project is Arts Consultant David Beidas. Working as a client representative, or go-between, he smooths the way between professional teams for whom this project is just another job and a theatre team with a high level of emotional investment in the build. Arts organisations, Hepburn believes, are “different from most clients because we treat our project like we’re building our own home. That level of involvement, the professional teams say, is unprecedented”. And it’s not just at this level of senior management that such attachment is felt to the capital plan. Coleman points out that the project “is owned by the whole building really. It’s where the whole organisation is moving towards...We are making this shift together and the programme is evolving as a whole organisation. And that’s just because what we do is work with young people. That’s what we all do. That is us, the Lyric”.

The Lyric Hammersmith’s recent production Morning starred members of the Lyric Young Company | Photo: Marc Brenner

“If you ask people what they love about the Lyric, it’s because it doesn’t feel like a school… it feels grown-up, it feels professional.”



Smells like teen (entrepreneurial) spirit Theatre training for young people shouldn’t end with acting courses, as Mark Fisher discovered when he spoke to a selection of TMA venues that are offering incredible opportunities off the stage.


n my desk is a handsome booklet called Careers @ the Rep. Pitched at school pupils, it’s a 40-page guide to the jobs you can do at Dundee Rep, giving a clearly laid-out breakdown of what each department does and the kind of people who do the work. There are interviews with key figures, ranging from the Deputy Chief Electrician to the Artistic Director, as well as tips on how to get started and how to write a CV. “We are investing in our staff, training them to be able to share their expertise with you,” says the introduction, signalling that for this theatre at least, getting the next generation involved is not just an optional extra, but a central part of the remit. As well as an annual careers day, in which representatives of universities and colleges join the staff of Dundee Rep and

Scottish Dance Theatre to offer advice and run workshops, the company runs a two-day work experience programme called Enterprise @ the Rep, in which 50 secondary school pupils get a taste of anything from sound design to press and marketing. “We were finding that young people were going to careers advisors saying they were interested in theatre and being told only about acting courses,” says Gemma Nicol, Education, Skills and Training Manager. “But obviously there’s a hugely rich training opportunity in the theatre and other avenues you can go down.” To become one of the 50 participants, students go through the motions of applying for a job, from application through to shortlisting, workshop and interview. As well as being a valuable exercise in itself, this process ensures only the most



Belgrade apprentices with the Creative Apprentice Employer of the Year Award

“I’m massively impressed by who is out there, the ideas they have and the passion they bring to their projects.” committed students will get to work alongside the company. Once selected, the students are given a two-day insight into the work of the department that most interests them. “We use the current show as the framework,” says Nicol. “The designers will be designing a set and making a model box; the actors will be working with the director to look at techniques the actors employ; and the creative learning team will look at facilitation techniques and will go out and run a workshop in a local secondary school.” At the end of the two days, which are supported by Dundee City Council’s education department, the students give a presentation about what they’ve learned before seeing the production they’ve been working on. To dedicate a whole building to a work experience project on this scale requires commitment on all levels. Nicol has been thrilled by her colleagues’ enthusiasm. “There certainly are challenges, but it’s really supported across the theatre,” she says. “Staff really enjoy it. They get a lot out of it. They say it makes us look at what we do in a different way. That’s invigorating.” Although work experience gives you a taste of a job, the next


step on the professional road may not be obvious. That’s why Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre has established a creative apprenticeship scheme in conjunction with Stratford-uponAvon College and Heart of England Training, with a series of 11-month paid posts bringing a new generation of workers into the building. The apprentices, who now make up 15% of the Belgrade’s workforce, have taken up positions in the marketing, sound, wardrobe, lighting and community arts departments. “Our workforce came from quite similar backgrounds,” says General Manager Janthi Mills. “They usually had done some sort of voluntary placement and knew somebody who worked in the theatre. And they were often white with a university degree. We wanted to offer other opportunities to get first-hand experience of what it’s like to work in the arts and a qualification as well.” All the posts are additional to the Belgrade’s existing jobs. That means when one apprentice successfully applied for the full-time Marketing Assistant role recently, the theatre had to set about recruiting a new apprentice to replace her. Funding is in place to keep the scheme going for at least another year. The company started by identifying areas, such as wardrobe and lighting, that seemed hard to get into without qualifications. It prioritised those for the apprenticeships then gradually extended the scheme throughout the organisation, taking care to brief each line manager about what to expect and what would be expected of them. “With people leaving school and moving into the industry, you do get some of those excuses – ‘the dog ate my homework,’ when someone’s late or whatever,” says Mills. “We do a lot of sessions with the young people about what it’s like to work in a theatre and simple things like, ‘If you’re late,


“We were finding that young people were going to careers advisors saying they were interested in theatre and being told only about acting courses.” you have to phone.’ Embedding that in the beginning really works. It’s also about giving the line managers the time. To begin with, they were apprehensive about it, so we talked to them at length. In the initial stages, they didn’t know how it was going to work. Now they’re so positive about it because they’ve learned they’re passing their skills on and they’re skills you can’t necessarily learn in a classroom.” All the apprentices – there are now seven – have their own mentors and meet with their peers every month. Unlike with work experience, it has never been a problem to keep them occupied. “Because they’re an assistant in a department, they’re developing skills all the time,” says Mills. “We feel they come out at the end more experienced and more able to go into that first job. We do a lot of work in their last couple of months on CVs and taking them out to visit other theatres, so they’re well-rounded when they leave us. They’re all getting jobs now that, before, they wouldn’t have got.” Leicester’s Curve Theatre also has a busy work experience and internship programme, and has been making particular inroads with its Young Arts Entrepreneurs project. This three-year programme, funded by £240,000 from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, is designed to give a leg up to a new generation of artists. Each year, the organisation is selecting ten projects proposed by 16 to 25-year-olds and supporting them with a ten-week training programme backed up by mentoring and funding. “I’m massively impressed by who is out there, the ideas they have and the passion they bring to their projects,” says Tim Ford, Curve’s Associate Director, Participation and Learning. The class of 2011 includes Jenna Forbes, exploring the issue of dyslexia with “hard to reach” young people; Aminata Kamara, whose verbatim play I Am Marley looks at trans-racial adoption; and Akshay Sharma, whose The Sex Entercation Show highlights the dangers of sexually transmitted infections. Meanwhile, Emily Bolton and Rachel Eke, aka Movin’2gether, have been leading creative dance sessions for the over 55s and in care homes. Curve Theatre’s Young Arts Entrepreneurs project | Photo: Pamela Raith


Curve Theatre’s Young Arts Entrepreneurs project | Photo: Pamela Raith

“We’ve got to be creative about how we are developing and nurturing the next set of artists. The voice of Leicester is in this building without a doubt and the project is bringing in a whole new audience for us.” “It’s highlighted for us the need out in the community for these projects to exist,” says Ford. “The gaps that are out there are being filled by these people and their ideas. For example, it’s been fascinating to see how massively successful the project in residential care homes has been and it’s inspiring to see these young people leading classes for people at the other end of their lives.” The other projects are equally enterprising – as are the first applications starting to arrive for the 2012 intake. It means that far from being an add-on to the Curve’s artistic programme, this work is taking an increasingly central part


to the life of the building and of the region. “It’s a long-term commitment to these young people and to enrich our artistic community,” says Ford. “We’ve got to be creative about how we are developing and nurturing the next set of artists. It’s a key part of the building and every department has been phenomenal. The voice of Leicester is in this building without a doubt and the project is bringing in a whole new audience for us.” It’s Ford’s responsibility to ensure the artists can develop their craft and have their voices heard without being overwhelmed by the sudden attention. Just as important is the business training from local accountants and other professionals, allowing the artists the opportunity to develop a good head for money from the start. “It means they can see it as a viable business and not just a nice little project that they’re doing,” he says. So successful has the Young Arts Entrepreneurs project been in its first year that Ford has ambitions to keep it going beyond the initial three-year deal and, indeed, to extend the idea to cities across the country. “We’ve seen the impact not just on us as an organisation, but on the young artists and our community,” he says. “The aspiration is to turn it into a national project. It may be that we work with the big 11 major theatres across the UK and find a national launch for it. It has so many positives to it; not just about business, enterprise and developing young artists, but developing the cultural infrastructure in a city and a region. It should be everywhere.” Mark Fisher is a freelance feature writer and the Guardian’s theatre critic in Scotland. He is the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide.


Autism Inspiration Day – one year on This month marks a year since Autism And Theatre, an industry inspiration day. Charlotte Marshall spoke to Kirsty Hoyle, Access Manager at SOLT/TMA and key speaker at the event, to find out what progress has been made. “The day was to bring people from the industry together

Society (NAS), Action for Children’s Arts (ACA), the TMA and SOLT, and hosted by the Unicorn Theatre. Key speakers including actress and President of the NAS Jane Asher and children’s playwright and Chair of ACA David Wood led conversations about the challenges families with autistic children face, while breakout sessions provided an open From Chief Executives to ushers, more than 200 industry forum for sharing concerns and best practice. members came together to discuss the subject of welcoming When I met Hoyle, who is also Access Manager of the people with autism into theatres and how best to deal with Unicorn, to discuss the event one year on, she confidently involuntary noise at the first event of its kind organised by told me that the outlook across the industry is looking Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), the National Autistic considerably healthier today, explaining, “most of the to facilitate an important discussion,” TMA’s Access Manager Kirsty Hoyle tells me when I ask her about the original intent of 2011’s Autism Inspiration Day. “It was to go ‘this is great, there is a whole new group of people that wants to come to the theatre, now how do we do it?’”

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time | Photo: Manuel Harlan



organisations that I come into contact with now are at some point on the journey of being more inclusive for these audiences; not everybody’s at the same place but they are all starting to look at ways of being more accessible.” While some theatres were already on that journey of inclusiveness, programming relaxed and autism-friendly performances long before the event – West Yorkshire Playhouse was a key speaker and wealth of information at the event, talking about its history of programming relaxed performances and providing visual stories – the day has lived up to its name, inspiring numerous relaxed performances as a result. ATG is one such success story. The industry heavyweight is now offering relaxed performances in its Grimsby and Richmond theatres, programming inclusive performances for all pantomimes playing across its countrywide venues this Christmas and even taking visual stories to the next level, planning to produce filmed aids for patrons in advance of their visit. There are dozens of similar success stories from TMA Member theatres across the country, but arguably the most high profile success story of the last year was the one-off relaxed performance of West End show Shrek The Musical, which played to more than 500 families and followed in the pioneering footsteps of last October’s autism-friendly Broadway performance of The Lion King. One father summed up the importance of Shrek’s performance, telling organisers: “You won’t need me to tell you how liberating it is to be able to take a special needs child to an event where his/her challenging behaviour is the norm rather than the exception. It makes their experiences of life a great deal broader than they might otherwise be – and their family’s likewise.” Welcoming autistic audiences into the theatre isn’t limited to relaxed performances, however, and theatres such as Southampton’s Mayflower have been taking extra steps, forming a partnership with the Hampshire Autistic Society and local theatre company Forest Forge this summer to offer two days of theatre workshops designed specifically for autistic children and young people on its main stage. There are too many stories and initiatives now taking place at TMA theatres to mention, but for Hoyle, the main success is that people are now talking about how they can engage with

The relaxed performance of Shrek The Musical

“The main success is that people are now talking about how they can engage with this audience. They’re not as frightened as they used to be.” this audience. “They’re not as frightened as they used to be,” Hoyle explains, “there is a big conversation going on with different venues and different important people who can drive this forward; that happened as a result of everybody being there on that day.” Theatres are now also taking a more holistic approach with their access policy, thinking of it as “a living, breathing, changing document, rather than one to be filed away. So, not only do many theatres provide audio-described, captioned and signed performances, they’re thinking about how they can entice and cater for traditionally excluded audiences.” Because constructing an access policy can be confusing, training is vital for moving forward. Hoyle has considerable experience training everyone from front of house staff to general managers to help organisations gain a better understanding of the needs of autistic audience members and their families. Guildford’s Arnaud Yvonne, Hoyle tells me, held an in-house training session for staff recently, pulling the whole organisation together to “reflect back on how they thought, as an organisation, they were supposed to respond to this new audience,” summarising that this new attention to policy means “that there’s an intent and an attitude shift within organisations; that they are thinking ‘let’s get something in writing about this, let’s think about it together and have a cohesive plan of action for how we a) deal with difficult situations but b) actively invite people in.” Exploring opportunities for different age groups is also another area to be looked at. The overwhelming focal point for the 200 delegates at discussions at the 2011 Autism and

A relaxed performance at West Yorkshire Playhouse

Kirsty Hoyle and Joanna Loveday talking at the Autism Inspiration Day


run groups,” Hoyle stresses, pointing out Theatre event was families with younger “lots of the families that you want to come to children, and the majority of relaxed relaxed performances are quite isolated and performances have up to this point been often won’t be accessing the information geared towards that age group, providing that they need to through the marketing a way for the whole family to enjoy an channels you would usually use, so therefore experience together, something that can you need to tap into social services, you be a rarity for many families dealing need to work with local charities because with disabilities. The National Theatre, they do know the people that you want to however, is currently formulating a come. It’s an audience who traditionally relaxed performance of The Curious don’t come so why would they look at the Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time Jane Asher and David Wood at stuff you’d usually send out?” which is recommended for everyone the Autism Inspiration Day aged 13+ and the first of its kind for this While theatrical offerings for people with age group. “It’s a narrative driven play and you’re working autism may be in an ever increasingly healthy state, there with people who potentially have a low cognitive age or are still conversations to be had, policies to be formed and a different way of looking at the world, so the way that problems to be discussed. With Hoyle’s Unicorn Theatre hat they communicate and use language is not necessarily the on, she will help facilitate one such conversation in January same as someone who is neuro-typical,” Hoyle tells me, as at a two-day Open Space event focusing on disability and she explains the challenges of the project. “If you’ve got a the arts, hosted by the London Bridge venue in partnership panto where there’s loads of light and music and dance, with Improbable Theatre. The unconventional format of then those sensory elements can be enjoyed by that person an Open Space conference is that there is no set agenda, even if the text does not hold interest. If one is holding a anyone can call a meeting and delegates join any group they relaxed performance for a show that’s narrative heavy and are interested in. This unknown can make it a hard sell to primarily text driven and people talking, it can be a harder potential participants, but Hoyle is determined to attract a challenge to adapt the show to be suitable for an audience mix of commercial and smaller practitioners to help gain with varying cognitive and communication abilities.” The a true overview of the issues, and she believes that TMA success of the project remains to be seen, but it marks an Members could play a key role in the progression of these important step in the development of this audience. discussions. “We all know best practice now, we all really One year on and Hoyle believes, “We’re in a good place. What I like is that even if it may not be absolutely perfect, there are now so many venues doing relaxed performances we don’t even know who they all are. I’ll hear subsequently that one has happened, which is great because it’s important people give it a go!” Of course there are theatres that have yet to dip their toes into relaxed performances and training, and for venues looking to begin the process, Hoyle believes they must start by looking outside their normal marketing and audience development channels. “Speak to, talk to, make friends with and ask questions of local people who

“We all know best practice now, but in order to develop that and move on, we need to talk honestly and openly about things.” 24

understand what we’re supposed to be doing,” Hoyle tells me, “but in order to develop that and move on, we need to talk honestly and openly about things like people being frightened about terminology, non-disabled people being unsure of how to talk about disabled people and disability; they’re the kind of conversations that we hope will come out of it.” Her message for theatres that are successfully programming assisted and relaxed performances is to pave the way for others to do so by sending a unified message out to potential audiences that theatres welcome all. “If families don’t know they can come to them, they won’t work. We need to be shouting about them loudly in the beginning so they can become a sustainable part of an assisted performances programme. Relaxed performances are a brilliant way to offer families the chance to experience theatre together and cope with the worry of involuntary noise in your auditorium.”

Charlotte Marshall is Editor of Prompt and


Course to success Following the country’s successful demonstration of how training can reap rewards on the track, the TMA’s Training and Development Manager Wade Choudhuri spoke to Kate Stanbury about the training needed for theatres to succeed in 2012. “Because I’m in the driving seat now,” the TMA’s Training and Development Manager Wade Choudhuri jests in response to my question when I ask him why the TMA has increased the number of training courses it’s offering as part of its training and events programme over the next four months. Since stepping into “the driving seat” in September last year, bringing more than 10 years of experience to the table, Choudhuri has been instrumental – to continue the analogy – in steering the number of TMA training courses and events in this upward direction. Earlier in the year, Choudhuri embarked on something that has never previously been done by the TMA, he conducted a comprehensive training needs analysis (TNA). To those not familiar with the somewhat confusingly similar acronym, he essentially carried out a detailed review of the programme offered to its Members in order to find out what exactly they Wade Choudhuri required in terms of training. “We realised that in order to develop the training we offered to our Members and ensure we continued to offer value for money,” he explains logically, “we needed to understand our Members’ training needs.” Rather than relying on anecdotal evidence and informed predictions of what those needs might be, the TNA made it possible to identify through tangible data and feedback what it was that Members actually wanted. “By doing this,” Choudhuri adds, “we were able to build up a picture of the competencies that participants felt strong in, but, more importantly, identify the areas that needed further development.”

In helping Members to gain more experience where it was needed, Choudhuri devised a new set of courses to fill those training gaps, including Working with Local Government, Governance for a Not-for-Profit Arts Organisation and Making the Most of Database Marketing. As a result, the TMA is running a programme of 27 training and development events from September to December this year, compared with 13 for the same period last year. It was a big leap for TMA but a necessary step for the theatre industry in 2012. With more than 15 new courses put in place for the next four months, TMA’s training and events

“A learning and development programme can get people working to their best and working together, delivering results particularly when an organisation faces financial hardship.” programme has evolved in order to help theatres equip their workforce with the skills needed to cope with changing times and, in particular, the changing economic climate. Following last year’s Arts Council funding cuts, which saw 200 arts organisations affected across the country, Choudhuri believes that despite the instinct of some


organisations to dismiss training as non-essential and economise during financial hardship, there are significant benefits to be drawn from keeping training within a company’s expenditure and that training, in fact, becomes even more vital. “During difficult economic times, like those that we’ve all faced over the past five years, training becomes even more important to the financial viability of an organisation. Yet when purse strings tighten, the first in line to get the cut is the training budget,” Choudhuri says regretfully. By introducing courses such as Essentials of Fundraising in the Arts, developed in collaboration with ABO, and Working with Local Government for the first time, TMA is helping theatres assess the changes in local authorities and determine what they mean in terms of funding, to help examine and overcome the challenges of public funding cuts. “It [the TMA’s new training programme] is reflective of the economic situation that everyone faces today,” reinforces Choudhuri. The current economic problems don’t only have significant financial effects for the companies themselves, they also impact highly on the individuals within them. “During difficult economic times,” Choudhuri explains, “it’s almost inevitable that job satisfaction and morale will take a hit. Both of these things will impact on productivity and consequently make the process of returning to a more stable position harder and longer.” So, what does he suggest? “A learning and development programme can get people working to their best and working together, delivering results particularly when an organisation faces financial hardship.” During his research, Choudhuri discovered that 75% of the individuals he surveyed stated that their training needs were identified through formal or informal reviews with their manager. However, on closer inspection, just 12% actually had regular formal one-to-one reviews and 14% had no review process at all.

“The training we offer is value for money. It’s assessed, monitored, we gain feedback to ensure that whatever we’re delivering, people get value for money, and I think that’s what companies want to see.” 26

“We realised that in order to develop the training we offered to our Members and ensure we continued to offer value for money, we needed to understand our Members’ training needs.” Consequently, new courses have been introduced to help individuals in senior managerial positions to better manage their staff. These include Practical People Management Skills, a programme that offers participants an insight into overseeing staff and developing a vision for their teams, and Conducting Performance Appraisals, a course offering guidance on undertaking staff appraisals and evaluating a team’s performance against pre-set objectives and competencies. In fact, there is a whole range of new courses that have been tailored to middle and senior management, including training on leadership skills, delivering customer upselling and recruitment skills; areas that traditionally the TMA has never previously catered for. “These are courses that haven’t been done by the TMA and there doesn’t seem to be anyone out there doing them either, so it’s great that we have within our remit to fill that gap.” Obviously, the training of staff doesn’t come without its own financial implications, but as Choudhuri reassures, “the investment pays off and the training we offer is value for money. It’s assessed, monitored, we gain feedback to ensure that whatever we’re delivering, people get value for money, and I think that’s what companies want to see, particularly in the theatre industry where those budgets are tight and where taking a day off work to travel down to particular courses can be quite problematic.” But that journey is clearly worthwhile. All of TMA’s London courses are held in a specially built training suite in the capital and run by experienced tutors, many of whom have worked in the theatre industry themselves. “They’re subject experts and that’s key,” adds Choudhuri. As a number of courses on offer this year rapidly approach capacity, it is clear that many organisations are rightly buying into the idea that “making that small investment now in training your team or developing members of your staff will pay dividends later.”

bringing the industry together Established in 1894, the TMA is the leading membership body representing the interests of and providing professional support for the performing arts in the UK. Our Members include theatres, multipurpose venues, arts centres, concert halls, commercial producers, touring theatre, opera and ballet companies, sole traders and suppliers to the performing arts. The TMA provides a collective voice for the management of the UK performing arts. We support our members with the very latest in current thinking and best practice, and our services include specialist legal, financial and employment relations expertise, practical support and guidance. The TMA’s agreements with the trade unions are the benchmark for the employment and engagement of those working in the middle and large scale UK performing arts. We represent the interests of arts organisations from across the UK to central, local and European government, funding and other bodies concerned with the performing arts.

Member benefits A wide range of local and national professional networking opportunities Advice, guidance and support on legal matters, industrial relations, business management and corporate governance Reduced costs through the TMA’s Group Purchasing Scheme Reduced rates and advance booking for our high quality training and events programme To find out how to become a member or how you can get more value from your existing membership, call Gemma Nelson on 020 7557 6706 or visit


Kate Stanbury is Publications Assistant at SOLT/TMA.



Young audiences.Big questions. Any answers? TMA’s David Brownlee attended an industry day to discuss the legacy of A Night Less Ordinary and how theatres should be working to engage young people going forward.

On Thursday 11 June 2012, 64 leaders from the theatre industry gathered at the Unicorn Theatre at an event organised for the TMA by Pam Jarvis of sam-culture to consider the ideas, insights and initiatives to create more young audiences that emerged as a result of A Night Less Ordinary (ANLO). ANLO needs little introduction to most readers: it was the Department for Culture, Media and Sport programme to give away free theatre tickets to young people in England. The scheme didn’t have an easy birth in the sunset days of the last administration at Westminster and it suffered a long slow death under the incoming coalition government.

I confess I have had a long personal association with the initiative: I was the Arts Council England Director responsible for trying to translate the Secretary of State’s desire to deliver Brian McMaster’s notion of a ‘Free Week’ for the arts into something that was realistically deliverable and affordable (and announceable in a very short period of time at the upcoming Party Conference). Anyone who works for a national funder should never expect to win prizes for popularity, but during the many heated meetings and telephone conferences as we tried to shape the scheme, I did wonder whether I would ever be welcome in a theatre again. The successful journey from initial profound scepticism and hostility in the sector to actually receiving applications


from well over 100 individual theatres and consortia was short but dramatic and had a lot to do with the pragmatism and ‘cando’ attitude of some key TMA Members to whom I shall remain forever grateful. Of course the scheme was deeply flawed in design, and suffered from being a political football, so the fact that 64 leaders took a day out to discuss its ‘legacy’ is perhaps surprising. It seems that ANLO gave a local, regional and national platform for dialogue and debate (and not just moaning!) in the theatre sector. It really did also act as a catalyst for many theatres to fundamentally change their practice around giving young people a say in the way they were run. The event was hosted by James MackenzieBlackman, whom is now Executive Director of the charitable-arm of New Adventures. The morning was structured around short ‘think pieces’ from personal perspectives on the key issues about young audiences. Not all speakers were in philosophical agreement. Charlotte Handel explained Theatre Royal Stratford East’s approach to community engagement by handing over programming power to the community through their Open Stage programme, while the Unicorn Theatre’s new Artistic Director Purni Morell stimulated debate by questioning whether everyone really has equally artistically interesting ideas to share. Young people played a leading role throughout the day, and Ellie Taylor gave a personal view to the room of what a transformational effect Arts Award, Trinity College London’s campaign to support young people who want to deepen their engagement in the arts, can have on wellbeing and opening options for later life. Dean Atta shared ways to include youth voices without bringing them into the boardroom and some poetry. After lunch, the focus shifted to round table discussions considering two questions that had emerged from sam-culture’s evaluation of the programme: how can the industry

work together to make a simple standard offer to young audiences countrywide and how can the industry use its creative talents to engage more young people? There was broad agreement that no compromises should be made on the quality of work created for young people: being a high quality production or ‘young and funky’ are not separate issues but integral to each other. It was felt creative teams should ensure work for children and young people meets both criteria and is of the highest standard. Some delegates felt the route to the audience was via participation, sowing seeds with children and young people. Some delegates talked about the enthusiasm and excitement of young people they currently work with and opportunities provided by giving young people ‘a space’ to see, experience and develop their interest and passion. The debate over introducing young audiences via participation or attendance will continue. There was enthusiasm for a national scheme to build young audiences: delegates voted overwhelmingly that a national scheme to present and promote the arts to children and young people would be useful. Details as to how this could be achieved were subject to wide-ranging discussions. It was agreed such a scheme must have a strong, recognisable national brand and be communicated by all departments within an organisation and the wider arts community. Digital technology clearly offers new opportunities and also new challenges in ensuring a new brand effectively engages with young audiences. The next step will be a smaller meeting organised by the TMA in the autumn to thrash out exactly what a new sector-led initiative might look like. But what is clear is that there is no appetite for ‘free ticket schemes’. Delegates were clear that in their experience children and young people will pay (or be paid for) to come to high quality work that excites them.


Fundraising essentials Ahead of her TMA training session in November, Sarah Gee talks to Prompt about the best ways to go about raising funds and tells us why it’s important to remember money always follows a vision, never the other way around. I’ll never forget that phonecall. Very early on in my tenure in my first director-level fundraising job, a somewhat elderly but very sweet and well-meaning board member rang me to say that he had some great new ideas on sponsorship leads. “Wow,” I thought, being somewhat younger and more naïve, “a properly housetrained trustee – how refreshing.” I should have known better. His ‘big ideas’ stemmed from the fact that he’d just popped out for the morning paper and while walking along the high street he’d had an epiphany: Boots The Chemists should be sponsoring the arts! No, he didn’t know the head of marketing, CSR or communications. No, he wasn’t the golf buddy of the chairman. No, he wasn’t a major shareholder. In fact, he didn’t even know where Boots were headquartered, whether they had a track record in sponsorship, or anything about their target customers. He just thought “they should”. I often tell this story on fundraising courses and the room seems to split into two: those who smile and nod knowingly, and those who emit embarrassed laughter and realise that they’re on the same journey, right now. Of course, there are many, many happy and mutually supportive relationships between the corporate and arts sectors, but sponsorship is not always the best route for arts organisations seeking support. There has to be a good reason for a company to support an arts project and – frankly – us being short of money on a budget line is not a good enough one. One of the best fundraising lessons I ever learnt was from Sir Clive Gillinson, former Managing Director of the London Symphony Orchestra and now at Carnegie Hall in New York. He wisely said that money follows vision, never the other way around. In other words, work out what you want to do before where the money is going to come from. Too often development managers are told to “get sponsorship” when a project might be better suited to trusts, individual giving or even support from the public sector away from the usual suspects of the arts funding system. But how do you know which route to take? Well, the short answer is come on the November. The longer answer is that it’s beneficiary/target group, amount being warmth of existing contacts, ‘fit’ with priorities, and so on.

TMA/ABO course in a mix of time-frame, sought, lead-in time, the donor/supporter’s

In general, fundraised income tends to come from one of the five following areas: corporate sector, individual giving, trusts and foundations, public sector, and events and community fundraising.

Sarah Gee

Each of these areas has different patterns. For instance, it can take upwards of 18 months to secure a sponsorship relationship, based on a company’s future plans and financial years, whereas a direct mail or email campaign to existing ticket purchasers could reap rewards in a matter of days, particularly when conducted online. So, which areas offer the best return on investment (ROI) for organisations? Well, again, there isn’t a single answer; sometimes I’ve worked with very small organisations with few resources that have made great in-roads into major donor supporters, but have indulged in little other fundraising. But, in general, my advice would be that if you are a small company with little (wo)man hours available to secure income, and you are a registered charity, it’s very likely that you will get a good ROI on fundraising from trusts and foundations. The estimated 8,800 trusts in the UK are pretty good at laying out the kinds of projects they are able and/or prepared to support and the ways in which they need information from you. The clues are all there, so do follow the instructions; a frightening number of applications are rejected each year simply because fundraisers haven’t done their research. The Association of Charitable Foundations say that their 300 members are receiving 30% fewer applications than in recent years, which flies in the face of received wisdom, but does at least mean that those of us who do conduct proper research and complete the application correctly have a higher than ever chance of success. The other area much talked about at present is individual giving, not least because of the UK Government’s emphasis on philanthropy and Arts Council England’s resultant Catalyst programme. Individual giving can cover everything from bucket collections to legacies, and as such is the largest potential source of income. Those of us lucky enough to have visitor data can do much to refine our approaches to these people, with wealth-screening and other geo-demographic profiling, plus analysis of their box office behaviour, suggesting those who are most likely to support us and at what level. Many non-arts charities eye our sector with great envy, and yet we waste many opportunities through lack of investment and knowledge. But that, as they say, is another story for another day. Come along on 22 November and find out more. Sarah Gee is Managing Partner of Indigo-Ltd, a boutique consultancy working to help arts organisations increase their impact and income. She is also the founder of, the only crowdfunding website created to maximise income for cultural projects through use of Gift Aid. New for 2012: Essentials of Fundraising in the Arts 22 November 2012, TMA, London This course aims to dispel the mystique of fundraising. For more information and to book, go to


Life Support

Season’s Greetings from Earthwatch. All year round, we’re working to preserve our planet’s remarkable wildlife and fragile ecosystems. Give a gift for the world. Please donate today. Call now on +44 (0)1865 318838 or visit 3FHJTUFSFEDIBSJUZOVNCFS*NBHFÂŞ%BMF.PSSJT


Dan Bates As Dan Bates begins a second term on the TMA Council, he spoke to Prompt about the issues he’s looking to tackle, the future of theatre and life as an adopted Yorkshireman. Dan Bates

Why did you want to stand for the TMA Council? The TMA is a vital organisation for anyone in the business of producing or running a theatre. I wanted to stand for the TMA Council to ensure we have an Association which is indispensable and in tune with the industry.

This is your second term on the Council. Did you find your first term a positive experience? I’m really delighted to be back for a second term on the Council. At the end of my first term significant changes were made by the Association to ensure that we gave managers the best possible advice and the right skills and tools for them to succeed. I’m looking forward to continuing that work as these are challenging times for anyone in our industry and the TMA has a crucial role in lobbying on behalf of the sector.

What issues are you most interested in looking at and tackling as a TMA council member? My biggest concern is making sure there are people who want to run theatres in the future and that our future leaders and managers are informed to make the right choices. We all operate in a very traditional environment and work can be done habitually, so it’s easy to forget that we need to pass on our knowledge, skills and experience to the next generation.

Tell us about your current role at Sheffield Theatres. I’m just approaching the end of my third year at Sheffield Theatres and it has been an incredibly exciting period including the re-opening of the Crucible. Working alongside Daniel Evans, our Artistic Director, I think we’ve created a regional theatre that the people of Sheffield are very proud of and we have raised the profile of the city both in the UK and overseas. Looking forward, we’re interested in developing our work beyond Sheffield onto international stages.

What achievement in your career so far are you most proud of? Having worked in three Yorkshire cultural institutions over almost 25 years, I’m very proud to have made Yorkshire my adopted home – even though many would say this still doesn’t make me a Yorkshireman! I’ve always been proud of the people I’ve worked with and I’m particularly proud of the team in

Sheffield because we’ve created something that is exciting and vibrant.

What new risks to the theatre industry do you think will emerge over the next three years? Clearly funding is a big risk, especially local authority funding, and we have to be more creative with less resources. Ensuring that our buildings are maintained and fit for purpose will become a greater challenge as funding is reduced. There’s also the challenge of finding people who want to come into an industry where the hours are long and the work is extremely demanding. We need to make sure we pay people an appropriate living wage to make it an attractive career. Audiences are also becoming more demanding and less willing to take risks, and we have to be even more sophisticated to attract them.

How should Members be looking to address these risks? Collaboration is clearly essential to our success, together with more communication and sharing knowledge and experiences. Engaging with local communities and building loyal audiences will also be crucial to becoming successful.

Dan Bates’ prime picks: Most useful website Apart from the TMA and Sheffield Theatres, it would have to be The Guardian.

Must-read publication Sunday Times Culture magazine.

Always listen to/watch: I’m a great fan of Britain’s Got Talent. I also have something of an obsession with behind the scenes and fly on the wall documentaries, which fascinate me.

Can’t be without: Marks & Spencer’s food hall and my John Lewis partnership card.



Theatre Awards UK With the Theatre Awards UK just around the corner, Prompt talked to Julian Bird, Chief Executive of the TMA, to find out what Members can expect from the organisation’s most important date in its diary. Every organisation has a special date marked in its diary; a date when it has the chance to champion its industry and really show what it does best. For the TMA, this year’s date is Sunday 28 October. The annual Theatre Awards UK, re-launched last year as a lunchtime event, will once again bring together the brightest names in UK theatre to celebrate their achievements over the last 12 months. A change of venue will see the ceremony take place at the impressive Guildhall, a fabulous medieval building located in the heart of the City of London. Julian Bird, Chief Executive of the TMA and the Society of London Theatre, shared his excitement about the new venue and its historical legacy with Prompt, telling us “The main room dates back to 1411 and the vaults, where the drinks reception will be held, are some 100 years older than that. It really is the most amazing historic building.” Bird is also proud that the TMA was specially invited to use the building following the TMA’s work with the organisation over the Olympics. The awards are a hugely exciting event in the UK theatre calendar, rewarding outstanding achievements both on stage and behind the scenes in over 250 TMA Member venues throughout the UK, and representatives from many of these venues will be in attendance at the ceremony alongside some of theatre’s most distinguished names, on hand to present the awards to the deserving winners. Alongside a host of awards for achievements in management, production and performance, chosen by panels of highly respected theatre experts, this year also sees something new: the category of Best Touring Production will be decided by public vote, a first for the awards. Bird is pleased with this important step, seeing it as an important way of making the awards more public and available to the wider theatregoing public of the UK, explaining that the public vote was introduced as a result of seeing the success of a similar award at the Olivier Awards with MasterCard over the last few years. “It’s worked really well in giving a particular focus around one award for the public and that’s what we’re doing here,” Bird said. As well as celebrating regional theatre at its very best, holding the awards at a lunchtime event means that Members from venues across the UK can enjoy chatting to each other, sharing stories and making new contacts during a drinks reception and over lunch, all without the worry of rushing to make the last train home! For the TMA, the awards – which are the only national awards for theatre, opera and dance in the UK – are a


Winners at the 2011 Theatre Awards UK | Photo: Alastair Muir

vital strategic tool, providing a fantastic snapshot of the high standards on show throughout UK theatre. Bird reflected that above all, the TMA is about excellence in theatre and the awards are a “public manifestation of that once a year, recognising certain people and organisations,” but also a great opportunity to go to the media as a collective force to put theatre on the map for the excellence of what we’re doing; an integral part of the strategic goals of the TMA. TMA staff and the SOLT/TMA Awards office have been busy working hard to make sure this year’s awards are bigger and better than ever, building on last year’s success to showcase the continuing diversity and progress of regional theatre across the UK. In his anticipation for the upcoming ceremony, Bird gave Prompt a sneak peek into what Members can expect this year, and production professionals are set to be pleased as this year the theatre awards for acting and production will share equal billing with the management awards, a difference which will be noticed by Members who attended the 2011 awards. Even with the planning for this year’s awards still full steam ahead, thoughts are already turning to next year and beyond. This is only year two of the awards in their new guise, so Bird told us nothing has been decided yet for future awards, however he would personally love to see the awards going outside London, although he admits “this brings with it some limitations in terms of where it would be, whether people could travel there easily and the question of whether we would get talent and famous people to come and join us outside London for such an event.” Whatever is decided in the future regarding location, what is certain is that the TMA is keen to keep developing the awards and Bird assured us that the TMA will take stock again after this year. With the range of sponsors, both returning and new, he’s confident, however, that people are really buying into what the TMA is doing. Bird was careful to keep the mood of anticipation and excitement alive with his determination to keep details of the day to himself, offering only this small teaser: “There will be one or two special things on the day which we’re still working on and we hope to see a number of special guests and presenters who people might know”. Promises, promises! It certainly sounds like there’s plenty to look forward to this year and well into the future, and we hope to see many of you with us on the day to share in the celebrations. Clare Ollerhead is TMA’s Administrative Assistant.

Theatre Awards UK 2012 Nominations BEST NEW PLAY


LUNGS by Duncan MacMillan a Sheffield Theatres and Paines Plough co-production at the Crucible Studio, Sheffield

Joe Harmston for THE FATHER by August Strindberg adapted by Laurie Slade, a Belgrade Theatre production

SOUTH DOWNS by David Hare a Chichester Festival Theatre production

Dominic Hill for KRAPP’S LAST TAPE /FOOTFALLS by Samuel Beckett a Citizens Theatre production

IN THE NEXT ROOM by Sarah Ruhl a Theatre Royal Bath production in the Ustinov Studio

Garry Hynes for DRUIDMURPHY - plays by Tom Murphy - produced by Druid Theatre Company, at Hampstead Theatre and Oxford Playhouse

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A PLAY Leanne Best for THE MATCH BOX a Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse production Henry Goodman for THE RESISTIBLE RISE OF ARTURO UI a Chichester Festival Theatre production Tim Pigott-Smith for KING LEAR a West Yorkshire Playhouse production

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE Stephen Boxer for WRITTEN ON THE HEART by David Edgar a Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon Claire-Louise Caldwell for BEAUTIFUL THING a Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester production Aidan McArdle for DEMOCRACY a Sheffield Theatres production at the Crucible, Sheffield

BEST DESIGN Gary McCann for THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry, music and lyrics by Nicholas Lloyd Webber and James D. Reid, Lyric Theatre Belfast in association with Lamplighter Drama at the Lyric, Belfast Amanda Stoodley for MANCHESTER LINES a Library Theatre Company production Neil Warmington for FURTHER THAN THE FURTHEST THING a Dundee Rep Ensemble production at Dundee Rep

ACHIEVEMENT IN OPERA Glyndebourne Festival Opera for its production of LE NOZZE DI FIGARO Oliver Mears for his inspiring leadership of Northern Ireland Opera Christopher Alden’s production of NORMA for Opera North, a co-production with Theater Chemnitz, with Annemarie Kremer in the title role

BEST MUSICAL PRODUCTION COMPANY directed by Jonathan Munby a Sheffield Theatres production at the Crucible, Sheffield THE GO-BETWEEN directed by Roger Haines a West Yorkshire Playhouse, Royal & Derngate, Northampton and Derby LIVE! production at West Yorkshire Playhouse SWEENEY TODD directed by Jonathan Kent a Chichester Festival Theatre production

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL Michael Ball for SWEENEY TODD a Chichester Festival Theatre production Daniel Evans for COMPANY a Sheffield Theatres production at the Crucible, Sheffield Imelda Staunton for SWEENEY TODD a Chichester Festival Theatre production

BEST SHOW FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE ALICE IN WONDERLAND a New Vic Theatre production at the New Vic, Newcastle-under-Lyme THE CURIOUS SCRAPBOOK OF JOSEPHINE BEAN by Shona Reppe on tour

ACHIEVEMENT IN DANCE DV8 Physical Theatre for their courageous and innovative blend of dance and speech Akram Khan for DESH - the epic scale of a very personal journey Michael Hulls for his brilliant contribution to lighting for dance: in particular for this year’s DESH, TORSION and THE RODIN PROJECT

THEATRE EMPLOYEE/MANAGER OF THE YEAR Ciaran McAuley- Lyric Theatre, Belfast Janthi Mills- Belgrade Theatre Graham Sutherland- Citizens Theatre Erica Whyman- Northern Stage

ACHIEVEMENT IN MARKETING The Marlowe Theatre Shakespeare’s Globe York Theatre Royal

MOST WELCOMING THEATRE Chipping Norton Theatre Curve (Leicester Theatre Trust Ltd.) New Wolsey Theatre

SOMETHING VERY FAR AWAY a Unicorn Theatre production

PROMOTION OF DIVERSITY BEST TOURING PRODUCTION ANNE BOLEYN - English Touring Theatre’s presentation of the Shakespeare’s Globe production THE KING AND I - Music and Lyrics with Curve Theatre, Leicester REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL a Graeae and New Wolsey Theatre production SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS -The Children’s Touring Partnership in association with the National Theatre presenting Bristol Old Vic’s production WE ARE THREE SISTERS a Northern Broadside production

Graeae Theatre Company Oldham Coliseum Theatre Theatre Royal Stratford East

THE RENEE STEPHAM AWARD FOR BEST PRESENTATION OF TOURING THEATRE Graeae/New Wolsey Theatre Hull Truck Theatre Music and Lyrics Limited


Creating a vision With the Theatre Awards UK just a few weeks away, Prompt asked three former Theatre Employee/Manager Of The Year Award winners how best to go about establishing a vision for an organisation or when programming. Donna Munday, Director of Theatre Productions at Working Title Films/Billy Elliot The most important thing is deciding and being able to clearly articulate what you want to achieve, what your aim is, what you want to accomplish. It helps to get started by thinking about where you are now, where you want to be and how you’re going to get there – and ensuring that the journey you want to go on is dynamic and exciting, and will Donna Munday motivate your team. Think about whether the future for the team/ company is going to be fairly stable or if there are circumstances around you that will force change, and adapt your planning accordingly. In the kind of jobs we do on the management side, we are usually facilitating the vision of the Artistic Director, so everything we do needs to support the journey they are taking the company on. Monitoring progress is important – you need to be able to review how delivery to achieve the vision is progressing. I would sit down with the senior team and go through each of the goals you have set for that period so you can report back on very specific targets that will help the company achieve your vision. There needs to be sets of actions and time scales that you use to deliver your targets, and at regular intervals review if you’ve actually done the things that you’d said you would do, and if you did, if they worked and what the result was. In order to motivate staff to buy into and deliver the vision, I think the most important thing is to make the whole company feel that they are part of it and that they’re an essential part of delivering it; from the most senior to the most junior roles. I’ve been involved in very big theatre companies where we’ve developed a new vision for the organisation and we’ve sat down with the entire company and talked to everybody – and then kept on talking to everybody as time goes on. To ensure staff genuinely feel involved, you need to find out what people think the company stands for and what they think it should or could stand for, how they want to feel about working there and how they actually do feel about working there, that sort of thing. When you then review and adapt the vision as you progress through the months and the years, it’s important to feed updates not just upwards to the board, but across the whole organisation with regular company meetings. The ability to engage the team at all levels is crucial.


Mark Skipper, Chief Executive of Northern Ballet

Mark Skipper

Northern Ballet’s vision to “tour narrative classical dance to as wide an audience as possible� has remained constant for many years. The creation of our new building was the ultimate prize and when we moved into our new home in October 2010, the largest centre for dance outside London, our vision extended to become a “powerhouse for inventive dance�, encompassing both our touring work and our aspirations for the building.

A vision should establish standards of excellence for everyone in the organisation to sign up to and be the driving force of the organisation. Everyone must buy in to the vision and to achieve that everyone, from all areas and levels of the organisation, needs to be in some way involved in its creation. A great vision needs to be inspirational to all and should motivate everybody to want to be part of it. Change can be risky however, so it’s important to analyse the impact on all stakeholders before making any decision for change and be sure that you are not changing your vision for changes sake. When establishing a vision you need to be prepared to: t 3FWJFXXIBUZPVEPOPXBOEOPUCFSFTJTUBOUUP throwing out what may no longer be relevant t #FQSFQBSFEUPUIJOLPVUTJEFUIFCPYFWFOJGPOUIF surface financial constraints make ambition seem impossible t 6TFDSPTTEJTDJQMJOBSZJOUFSOBMGPDVTHSPVQTUPHBJO the widest perspective t 5BLFUJNFUPFOTVSFUIBUXIBUZPVDPNFVQXJUIJTSJHIU You don’t want to be constantly changing


John Titcombe, Production Manager at Salisbury Playhouse We try to promote a very inclusive way of working here at the Playhouse, each project throws up new challenges and one of pleasures of working in a producing theatre such as this is the huge array of different knowledge and skills that we have within our various departments. By the time we get to the white card design stage I try and get the whole production team involved, we are a relatively small organisation so it’s probably easier to do here than if we were a bigger company. We encourage director and designer to talk through their visions for the piece so each department has an overview of what we are aiming for. John Titcombe

One of the most rewarding times can be when we start to look at the show in more detail, discussing potential problems, using our collective knowledge of things that have (or haven’t) worked for previous productions and looking for new solutions. Quite often a number of small ideas or observations from various people can lead to a Eureka moment. I invariably have to make some tough choices, resources are limited and sacrifices have to be made, it’s rare we can spend the time or have the money to do everything as we would like, but I hope that the journey we have been on during the early parts of the design process will stand us in good stead to deliver the essential elements of the show. I think most people who work in theatre like to be challenged, and for many of us working through problems and coming up with achievable solutions is a very satisfying part of the job, but I am also very aware of the fine line that exists between a good challenging project and totally overstretching ourselves.

In the next issue: The next edition of Prompt will be the digital issue, exploring new steps theatres are taking in this digital age, issues venues should be looking at and how best to present your organisation online.



October 2012

Get in touch! Comments, questions, suggestions? We would love to hear your views on any of the subjects in this issue of Prompt. To contact us, email If you would like your letter to be considered for publication in a future issue, please mark ‘for publication’.

To request y p your co CALL: 57 020 75Train 6706

to gain

How theatres are investing in the future of theatremakers and supporting young people



The north/south theatrical divide In May this year the TMA re-launched the way it collects

Our first area of analysis was of the average price of tickets and the average price paid by ticket buyers, as shown in graph one.

and reports on sales data from its Members, and is now receiving weekly data from organisations programming 160 auditoria around the UK. Using the first six weeks of data we conducted an analysis to test the proposition that the health of theatre was variable in different parts of the country, and specifically that there was a ‘north/south divide’. To do this we decided to compare overall financial performance, number of ticket sales and the price achieved per ticket.

Looking at graph one, comparing the average Indexes for price asked and price achieved, London, South East, South West and East all score higher on what they achieve than what they ask, whereas Midland and Northern regions score less. The only non-southern region that on average achieves better than the norm for ticket price achieved is the West Midlands. Index for average price asked in London was the second lowest of all regions, yet it achieved an index of over 100 for the prices actually achieved.

While it would be comparatively easy to just compare the average figures for all venues in a region, given that there is a very different mix of theatres in each region we quickly realised this would give a skewed picture. Instead we decided to analyse the comparative performance of touring shows in different regions and nations (using data provided by the venues). Using the returns from the first six weeks, we found there were 40 shows that had played in at least five venues in a minimum of three different nations or regions, both for one off performances and weekly runs. Across these 40 shows there was a significant difference in the number of visits to each region and nation. Therefore we decided to only analyse figures for regions and nations where we had data for 10 or more shows, which means on this occasion we are not able to report reliable figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The next area we looked at was number of tickets sold. We analysed the data in two ways: the number of tickets sold per performance (ignoring the number of tickets available) and the percentage of the available seats sold. The two sets of figures generally diverged considerably (see graph two). When analysing the success of a show, we usually compare the actual achieved against the potential. Looked at in this way, in terms of percentage seats sold, there certainly seems a north/south divide, with Yorkshire bucking the trend positively and the South West ranking alongside the North East and North West at the bottom end of the scale. However, this approach takes no account of the relative size of venues. Tours in our sample were playing to on average larger venues in the North East, North West, West Midlands and East than they were in Yorkshire, London and the South East. When analysed on a basis of simply counting the number of seats sold and ignoring the seats left unsold, these regions appear at the top of the league table (see graph three).

To make figures easy to compare, we created Indexes. An Index gives an indicator of average percentage change in a series of figures where one figure (called the base) is assigned an arbitrary value of 100, and other figures are adjusted in proportion to the base. A figure higher than 100 is therefore above average, below it lower. 130



Average Index of ticket price asked Average Index of yield achieved





















100 90







E = East of England, EM = East Midlands, L = Greater London, NE = North East England, NW = North West England, SE = South East England, SW = South West England, WM = West Midlands, Y = Yorkshire and the Humber



Average Index of numbers of tickets sold per performance Average Index of %age capacity achieved against potential




Index 100 90












Unsurprisingly, the graph comparing the box office income per performance (ignoring the potential box office income) and the percentage of the cash value achieved against the potential looks very similar to the ticket sales graph. Generally, as a percentage of potential, southern venues are outperforming northern venues, but when you ignore the potential and just compare gross box office take, it is the East, West Midlands, North East and North West that achieve Indexes above 100. With just 40 shows analysed over a six week period, this is clearly just an initial snapshot into regional differences and we will repeat this on a larger scale when we have a complete year of data. Even then, the approach will still have its limitations: for example, a region that houses both successful producing houses that neither tour nor present work and less successful presenting venues would always be underreported.





infrastructure as some others, but 16 auditoria are providing us with data on a regular basis. Of these, only four are part of this analysis. The majority of the other 12 are main houses or studios of producing theatres. To tell how they are performing we will plan to commence a number of cluster studies based on average venue data for similar auditoria rather than show data. While we cannot state from this initial analysis that there is a north/south divide, from this initial analysis, it certainly appears that venues are generally fuller in the south and there is a clear divide in pricing sensitivity, although the regional picture of capacity and financial capacity achieved is more complicated. Venues and producers may, however, need to reflect on their pricing strategies for touring shows when presenting in London if the currently large difference between price asked and achieved is to be lowered.

It is worth remembering this when looking at any region’s performance. The East performs extremely well in all three of the charts. It is not a region with as extensive a theatre

To find out more contact




Average Index of Gross value of tickets sold per performance Average Index of %age cash value achieved against potential


Index 100 90

















TMA diary dates Prompt looks at what’s coming up in the next three months in training and events. For further details on all TMA training courses and for location information, visit www.tmauk. org/events or email to receive a full brochure. All events are in London unless stated otherwise.



Wed 10

Working with Local Government

Thu 1

Performance Management

Thu 18

Box Office Conference

Tue 6

IOSH, Managing Safely

Mon 22

Essentials of Marketing, Druidstone, Rugby

Tue 13

Tue 23

Code of Conduct and Risk Management, Birmingham

Practical People Management Skills & Creating a Vision for Your Team

Wed 14

Time and Stress Management

Thu 25

Introduction to Finance

Thu 15

TMA Members’ Meeting

Fri 26

Code of Conduct and Risk Management

Mon 19

Sun 28

Theatre Awards UK

Governance for a Not-for-Profit Arts Organisation

Tue 30

Managing Conflict with Customers

Wed 21

Pricing at the Cutting Edge

Wed 31

Press & PR Conference

Thu 22

Essentials of Fundraising in the Arts

Tue 27

Introduction to Marketing

Wed 28

Personal Effectiveness and Emotional Intelligence Skills

Thu 29

Finance for Non Finance Professionals

December Wed 5

Recruitment and Selection Skills Training

The theatre business is becoming increasingly more complex and it is important that those involved take advantage of professional development and share best practice. That is why Travelers is delighted to support TMA’s training programme, helping theatres to successfully manage their organisations and business risks. To find out more about Travelers visit or talk to your insurance broker.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Is your website good for business? Papertree 123 gives you everything you need to make the most of the web at a price you can afford. With packages from less than 50p per day*, Papertree 123 is perfect if you are: small or medium-sized company, a freelancer or a sole trader • AMissing out on sales because you don’t have a decent website • Keen to work with a professional web agency who will look after you • Focused on keeping your costs down •

For an informal chat about what we can do for you, call us on 024 7660 8019 or go to * Includes domain name registration, professional design, web and email hosting. Indicative cost. Ask for more details.

Prompt Magazine Issue 65 October 2012  

Prompt Magazine Issue 65 October 2012