Devoted & Disgruntled: What are we going to do about the gap between commercial and subsidised theatre?
I’m Miranda Debenham and I’m a small scale subsidised producer and marketer. I’m at the start of my career and I’m already frustrated by the gap I see between the commercial and subsidised sectors. It seems to me that there is a giant chasm between the two groups, but that if they could work together both sides could improve their work, and improve our whole industry! Maybe I could even stop referring to them as sides.
It often feels like commercial producers simply don’t understand the challenges and shortages in the subsidised sector, especially for emerging producers. I’ve had conversations where I’ve asked for advice on funding productions, and been told I can surely find £5000 amongst my friends and family and work from there! Of course, I can’t do that. Many of us in the subsidised sector don’t have access to that kind of money, and nor do our friends – this is doubly true for young and emerging producers. But it seems like commercial producers don’t grasp that, and don’t have experience of working with ACE and Grants for the Arts. Likewise, the subsidised sector doesn’t do enough to learn from the commercial sector, and often assumes they care less about theatre. I’ve done it myself, but working professionally for a commercial company has taught me a huge amount about marketing and budgeting for theatre, and about using data to find audiences.
It does no one any good for the two theatre sectors to ignore each other, fail to understand each other, and therefore fail to learn from each other. If the subsidised sector doesn’t learn to work with data to maximise their revenue, they will fall apart as arts funding keeps being cut – we must all learn to be more focussed, and less afraid to quantify our work. And if the commercial sector doesn’t try to understand whats happening, to help grassroots producers and theatre-makers, they will find themselves without a new generation of producers to hand things over to.
Does this ring a bell for you? Do you want to fix this/ Maybe you know of existing models for commercial and subsidised producers to work together? Do you want to understand where private investment comes from? Are you a commercial producer frustrated by the lack of data in the subsidised sector?
Whoever you are, you are invited to join this open space event to start a conversation, make connections and bring the two halves of our industry together. I’m looking forward to meeting you!
This event is wheelchair-accessible. For any other Access queries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7240 4556.
Supported using public funding by Arts Council England
Improbable creates theatre and facilitates Open Spaces, which tour around the UK and internationally.