panels

The day concluded with two afternoon panels, during which industry professionals discussed some of the key issues raised by the symposium before inviting questions from the floor.

Panel 1 – Approaches to Investment

Chair: Tim Joss
Panelists: Joseph Smith, Pete Staves, Trupti Patel, Gavin Stride, Virginia Buckley

Summary: The first message from the panel discussion, voiced by Stage One’s Chief Executive Joseph Smith, was to ‘just raise the fucking money’. Although this raised a laugh from delegates, the point was clear and continued in the vein of the morning’s presentations and provocations. The most important thing, many of the speakers agreed, is to find the money that will support the art, whether this comes from commercial investment or Arts Council grants. Smith also reiterated the point that ‘no one invests in theatre who doesn’t love theatre passionately’, echoing Julius Green’s provocation.

Elsewhere on the panel, Senior Relationship Manager Peter Staves offered the Arts Council perspective, while Esmée Fairbairn’s Trupti Patel described how the Foundation’s social investment fund helps subsidised venues to achieve commercial transfers of successful productions and then use that income for other projects. There was also much discussion of crowd-funding, which is fast becoming a popular new source of funding for both big and small theatre projects. Virginia Buckley, Co-Founder of CultureCrowd, suggested that crowd-funding occupies the middle ground between commercial and subsidised, but stressed that it should not be a substitute for other forms of funding. Finally, one comment from Farnham Maltings’ Director Gavin Stride resonated particularly with the theme of the day: ‘compete less, collaborate more’.


Panel 2 – Approaches to Producing

Chair: Eleanor Lloyd
Panelists: Mark Rubinstein, Jennifer Sutherland, Richard Jordan, Ed Collier, James Seabright

Summary: There was a note of continuity going into the afternoon’s second panel, as Ed Collier revealed that China Plate are working on their first crowd-funded project. Although the majority of China Plate’s funding has come from the subsidised sector, Collier said that he does not see them as either commercial or subsidised. There was a similar message from Jennifer Sutherland of Scamp Theatre, which tours productions commercially but has often received Arts Council funding for research and development, as has Seabright Productions on occasion.

Mark Rubinstein said that money is actually the least interesting element of what he does; he is more interested in the scale of work. Richard Jordan, meanwhile, explained that his philosophy as a producer is to remain as flexible as possible. It was stressed by both Jordan and chair Eleanor Lloyd that producing is essentially about building relationships, but Rubinstein cautioned that producers should make decisions based on professional instinct, not blind love for a project. As the panel opened up to questions from the floor, they also discussed the importance of sharing knowledge in the industry and how the experience of audiences factors into all of these considerations.