Outdated systems blocking creativity growth - CIF

Outdated systems blocking creativity growth - CIF

Growth in the creative industries is being stymied by government and policy bodies working by out-dated definitions, according to a report published today by the Cultural Industries Federation (CIF).

Pitzhanger to re-open after £12m restoration

Pitzhanger to re-open after £12m restoration

Pitzhanger Manor, the dream country home created for himself and his family by Sir John Soane, in his time England’s most celebrated architect, is to reopen in March after major restoration.  

TAITMAIL    Art, Larry, and how another Christmas saved the world

TAITMAIL Art, Larry, and how another Christmas saved the world

By Simon Tait

I’ll spare you another Brexit sermon, that can wait at least a week. Instead I can take advantage of the fact that today is December 7, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, and make a connection with the extraordinary polymath Larry Holofcener, who died last year aged 91, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. 

‘Purity’ of boys’ voices – it’s Garrett v Bach Choir

‘Purity’ of boys’ voices – it’s Garrett v Bach Choir

Opera soprano Lesley Garrett’s call for an end to male-only choirs has been rebuffed by the head of one of the leading ensembles in the world, the Bach Choir.

New CEO for FACT

New CEO for FACT

FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) chooses Arts Catalyst's Nicola Triscott and new CEO

DEA BIRKETT Fifteen years ago, a museum visit changed my life

DEA BIRKETT Fifteen years ago, a museum visit changed my life

Last week we reported on the reopening of the V&A’s Cast Courts. Here, Dea Birkett recounts her own especial memory of them

Friends buy Burnley Empire for £1

Friends buy Burnley Empire for £1

The Victorian Burnley Empire has been saved by a friends group, days before it was due to go for auction.

Fitzwilliam’s gift of the Great Belzoni

Fitzwilliam’s gift of the Great Belzoni

The larger than life archaeologist, explorer and circus strong man known as the Great Belzoni is to adorn Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum.

The smartphone Turner Prize

The smartphone Turner Prize

Charlotte Prodger has won this year’s Turner Prize for visual art with a 32-minute film shot on her smartphone.

Rogers to leave Birmingham REP

Rogers to leave Birmingham REP

Executive director steps down after 17 years

To all Dome-loving humans…

To all Dome-loving humans…

David Shrigley has created this limited edition print with proceeds from sales going towards the Build Brighton Dome community appeal.

How WWI enriched contemporary art

How WWI enriched contemporary art

More than 35m people, half the population, have engaged with the 14-18 NOW commemorations of the First World War, which has now ended after five years.

Ally Pally theatre reopens after 80 years

Ally Pally theatre reopens after 80 years

Alexandra Palace’s theatre and East Court reopened at the weekend after a £27m, three-year restoration project.

What's up in… Bristol

What's up in… Bristol

AI looks at what's coming up around the country – this week, the arts in Bristol. 

Bid to save Turner’s Thames view

Bid to save Turner’s Thames view

The government has mounted a campaign to save J M W Turner’s painting Walton Bridgesfor the nation by placing an export stop on it.

Victorian art world – recast by the V&A

Victorian art world – recast by the V&A

The Cast Courts at the V&A, two of the museum’s original 1850s galleries, have reopened after a seven year programme, restored and refurbished as they were 160 years ago.

Brexit: May's deal and the arts

Brexit: May's deal and the arts

The Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement still leaves the arts and cultural industries in doubt about the future.

Rhian Harris takes over in Lakes

Rhian Harris takes over in Lakes

Rhian Harris, director of the V&A Museum of Childhood since 2008, is to be the new chief executive of Lakeland Arts.

What's Up In... Manchester & Salford

What's Up In... Manchester & Salford

In a new weekly feature AI looks at what's coming up around the country - starting with what's up in the arts in Manchester and Salford. 

Arts centre opens in Edinburgh observatory

Arts centre opens in Edinburgh observatory

A new contemporary arts centre, Collective, opens tomorrow, November 24, in one of Edinburgh’s most recognisable historic buildings.

All change at top of Oily Cart

All change at top of Oily Cart

Iconic children's theatre company Oily Cart has appointed Ellie Griffiths (right) as its new artistic director and Zoe Lally as its first executive director.

 Fight against climate change helps arts prosper

Fight against climate change helps arts prosper

Arts organisations are leading the way in sustaining the environment, according to a new report or Arts Council England, and benefitting financially as a result.

Silbert switch to Hampstead

Silbert switch to Hampstead

Birmingham Rep’s artistic director Roxana Silbert is moving to London’s Hampstead Theatre next year

Lost young Dickens found – in a trinket box

Lost young Dickens found – in a trinket box

A lost portrait of Charles Dickens at the age of 31 has been found, in a South African trinket box.

THE WORD Partnership and Risk: a balancing act for creativity

It’s time to look at a different approach to partnership in the theatre, says Damian Cruden, artistic director of York Theatre Royal

In common with many artistic di- rectors I am entering into the next NPO period in search of what might be called strong and stable partnerships. The call to co-production as an integral part of our programme of work is loud and clear. We are all on the lookout for the right combination of partner, title and star.

When we get it right the value is clear. We start to climb out of the “four hander” into casts of six or even eight and this opens up a wider range of titles, many not seen on our stages in the last 10 years. The work is fully exploited and reaches a wider audience and there may be slightly greater re- source available to make the piece.

Co-production with commercial producers of varying scales and their support in the project, sometimes even a third partner, can grow possibilities even further. However, with this type of partnership, certain challenges need to be confronted, if there is to be commercial FInance mixed with public investment or the mix of subsidised touring risk with building only risk.

For example, the typical model of co-production is to split the origination costs, with the participating houses paying the wages and keeping their own box office. The touring partner (whether commercial or not) then takes the risk on the road. This model can be tricky. The loss of perhaps three to five weeks’ worth of income means taking the work to houses with established audiences and a good reputation on deals, a combination that can be difficult to secure. For a commercial producer, particularly at midscale, the time left to recoup can be far too marginal to be safe.

Neither does this approach help with either ACE’s or the industry’s desire to build drama audiences in communities that are currently low at- tenders. It also means that any investors don’t get a cut in the co-producing houses, often houses with good drama audiences that would bring recoupment sooner.

With this in mind, some of us in the regional theatre world are having conversations about spreading risk in a different way. The idea is to see each project as a stand-alone, and to create a very clear and transparent budget that shows all the costs, setting agreed rates between the partners for the roles and tasks which will deliver the project. Each partner invests an appropriate portion in the project and then shares in the income over the whole duration of the life of the work.
The pluses are that it opens the work to investment from other sources because all partners will share in the total income against the project, and all the partners retain an interest in the project throughout. By using existing resources that the given partners may have will be paid in their entirety by the project, nothing would be given in kind. All partners would be able to exploit future income from the project if it continues to tour beyond the initial run.

The minuses are that building based producing theatres would be taking risk out on the road alongside the touring company/commercial producer and they don’t get to exploit their own house for themselves alone. Persuading a theatre board that this risk is acceptable will be difficult. Of course, some projects will carry acceptable risks, others less so and some will be financially foolhardy even if they are creatively wonderful. The latter are not really suitable for this new kind of partnership. While the box office certainties, if such a thing exists, should be easy to argue, it’s those that are difficult to call that are the problem and as any theatre director will tell you, these are the most common type of project.

ACE is currently engaging in a series of conversations with commercial and funded producers to talk about how touring can be supported into the future. It is keen to experiment with a variety of different models. Under- writing against loss is one of the areas it is keen to explore. There are various nuances and at the discussion I at- tended there were a variety of different suggestions and concerns around the concept.

One size never fits all when it comes to cultural investment. There will always be a need to invest in work that has to be made because it says difficult things and speaks to smaller groups, or work that needs to be taken to places that will struggle to find audiences. Projects that take this on need support in a very direct way. Other work, created and managed well, might stand a chance of washing its face and it is these that could benefit from loss underwriting. To qualify for loss underwriting there must be a good financial case that the project can break even and possibly bring a return greater than the investment. It is these marginal projects that often fail to get started because of a very understand- able nervousness to take risk. If risk were to be removed, we might be able to commit earlier to work and truly share in the whole project. This would in turn increase the amount of quality touring work available on realistic terms to theatre managements.

 

 

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