In the summer of 2014, following a public call for proposals, Sally Rose and Xavier de Sousa became the first recipients of LADA’s part-time Producer Residency Scheme. The tailored residency programme offers mentoring, desk space, access to office facilities, event invites and opportunities to engage with LADA’s work and other projects as and when they arise over a set period.
Running concurrently, these two residencies also enabled opportunities for collaborations, dialogues and shared experiences between the producers themselves and LADA.
Below Sally and Xavier outline their experiences and outcomes of the residency so far.
by Xavier de Sousa & Sally Rose
We began our residency as Live Art Producers at the Live Art Development Agency in July 2014.
Over the past 18 or so months, we have had regular desk space, access to meeting space and the study room. We have been embedded in the core team and gained an insight into LADA and the way that it operates and supports Live Art. As independent producers who have been taking steps to secure freelance producing practices, being associated with and resident at LADA has given us visibility to artists and industry communities which we may not otherwise have had. Developing long-term relationships with the core team has ensured key support & advice, and also ways of connecting to LADA’s aims and programmes across our own personal projects.
Francis Fay, Lynnette Moran, Amanda Coogan, Vaari Claffey, Niamh McCann, Live Collision Festival, Ireland 2015.
As part of a research project generated during the residency, we began a series of Producer Gatherings across the UK. The research enquiry proposes to connect independent producers, venue-based producers, company producers or those interested in producing, including self-producing artists by way of informal conversation and knowledge sharing. In 2015 the Gatherings have taken place at festivals across the UK with the rationale being to capitalise on the critical mass of people who may be in attendance at these events. So far, we have around 150 people on our network.
These open gatherings provided spaces for discussions around working independently, supporting the work of artists across art-forms, and any current producer-sector issues raised by those present. They also function as spaces to initiate a platform for a collective representation of indie and non-indie producers.
Nic Green, Massive Owl and British Council rep, Live Collision Festival, Ireland 2015.
Informed by these conversations, we aim to create an understanding of the independent arts landscape in the UK, the creation of an online place for open sharing of resources and future training opportunities, and to help to further the idea of co-working and support networks to encourage sustainability in the arts.
Key points that have emerged from the gatherings and have reappeared regularly are:
– Isolation and ways to combat this;
– Working collectively or in shared space. A map of free or collective working spaces across the UK is to be researched; and following on from this the idea of setting up collective studio spaces or other more formal collaborative groups
– Skills sharing, and peer learning/training;
– Shared resources – a blog has been set up which hold information about the gatherings and this project, alongside an open access sharing site for files of resources including: templates for contracts/budgets, documents relating to touring and making performance in the UK and beyond, contact lists of other producers;
– The potential for a more formalised network;
Hosted by ourselves (and occasionally Emma Beverley), previous gatherings have taken place at BUZZCUT Festival (Glasgow), Mayfest (Bristol), DEParture Lounge Festival (Derby), Transform Festival (Leeds), LiveCollision (Dublin, Ireland) and Fringe Central (Edinburgh Fringe festival 2015).
Although the gatherings are regularly fronted and initiated by ourselves, we do encourage other producers to host similar events in their area, specifically if they are outside of London – and know this is something that other people are doing already, this is something that we could look to further and gather information about in 2016/17. The sharing of resources, engaging in dialogue and better connectivity are, in our view, the best way to keep informed about what is going on in the arts sector and to also be a proactive part of the industry. As independent producers and artists, we often find ourselves feeling like we are in this by ourselves, with no network of support or a proper peer group to seek advice or simply to share a beer /social time with after working hours. So we encourage you to run some local gatherings of your own and keep us posted!
Richard & Judy of Live Art picture by Phoebe Patey-Ferguson, Live Collision Festival, Ireland 2015
Alongside the gatherings, we have travelled to Live Collision Festival in Dublin in May 2015 to host a series of curated conversations aiming to shape an understanding of the landscape of the arts in Ireland, and the relevance of the international programme offered by Live Collision. We used three of Live Collision festival strands to inform an active enquiry into the importance of festivals, how artists are reaching out to audiences and each other, and how Live Art can reflect on current social and political issues. These conversations were shared more widely through audio edits and action notes.
This research is ongoing for we plan to host other gatherings across the UK in 2016. Alongside this, we have also been researching ways of extending our initial network activity and begun thinking of ways of reaching a wider range of people, art forms and how this work can be extended as our producing practices develop over time.
It is our motto that if all of us share a little bit more of each of our resources, we could cultivate a arts ecology that functions better and more fluidly. Perhaps we could all be working a little more efficiently if we have resources freely available to access at all times.
For instance, new producers just coming into the industry could extensively benefit from this. At the same time, experienced producers could have access to quicker ways of writing applications or other types of budget templates. Self-producing artists could find new ways of producing their work, ensuring better financial sustainability for their practices.
In order to address this we have started a tentative blog/site that functions as a public-facing portal to share resources that we have found useful in our work, and that other people that have engaged with the group have sent us to share more widely. There you can find Arts Council applications, Budget templates, publications related to producing, etc.
Feel free to download any resources for free (where documents are credited to a specific individual we suggest crediting that person, or contacting them if you are using it more widely), but we would also like to invite you to contribute to it. Do you have a budget template that you think could be useful for others to use on their projects? Share it with us!
Do you know of a venue/organization that has space available for producers to work from? Get in touch with us and we will share this info.
Would you like to write a blog/piece on a particular aspect of producing? We would love to host it..
For more information visit the Producers Gathering tumblr page.
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